Sabella: Messi is irreplaceable

The Argentina boss has stressed that his side is a different team without the star player, but he was happy with Wednesday's display in a win over Italy.

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has admitted that Lionel Messi is irreplaceable, but he was pleased with his side's overall performance without the Barcelona star in Wednesday's 2-1 international friendly win over Italy.

Messi was forced to withdraw from the Argentina squad for the match in Rome due to a muscular problem, yet even though Sabella has highlighted the attacker's importance, the South American side put in a superb performance to beat the Euro 2012 finalist.

"When a team is used to playing with Messi, you can see the difference when he is not there," Sabella commented to reporters after Argentina's win. "Messi is irreplaceable, but the character and desire we showed really pleased me."

Argentina, which tops the South American qualifying table for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, is now unbeaten in its last seven matches.