The Argentina coach is wary of the threat posed by the Bayern Munich winger, who he says is as key for Oranje is as the 27-year-old is for the South Americans.
The two stars will come head to head in Sao Paulo in the World Cup semifinals on Wednesday night as their respective nations battle it out to meet Germany in Sunday’s final.
And Sabella insists that Messi remains the better player, but says the Dutch could be just as buoyed by the form of Robben as his own side will be by the four-time Ballon d’Or winner.
“He is a very dangerous player when one against one, so we have to pay special attention to him. When he gets a bit of speed up, it is more difficult to take away the ball from him,” Sabella told a press conference on Tuesday. “I think he is a great player, very important for Netherlands, like Neymar is to Brazil or Messi for Argentina. But Messi is the best of them all.”
Wednesday’s fixture will represent Argentina’s first World Cup semifinal appearance in 24 years, but Sabella claims there will be no greater pressure on his side than usual.
“The pressure is always there. [Getting to the semifinals] was an extra pressure, I have no doubt. Now it’s a different kind of pressure.
“We enjoyed the quarterfinal win over Belgium for a short moment, but we have to save energy, the celebrations have to be modest and we have to think about recovering strength because this goes on and it becomes more difficult.”
Some have painted the match as an opportunity for Argentina to gain revenge for the quarterfinal loss to Netherlands in 1998, but the coach insists there will be no such talk from him.
“Those are ugly words, revenge and vengeance, especially vengeance. This is football and those words are not in my dictionary.”