Sabella: My job is to make Messi 'feel respected' with Argentina

The Albiceleste coach also dismisses 'favourites' tag and is yet to decide on his system for his side's World Cup Group F opener against Bosnia at the Maracana on Sunday
By Greg Stobart in Rio de Janeiro

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella says his job is to make star man Lionel Messi "feel respected" ahead of their World Cup opener against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday.

The South Americans start their campaign in Rio de Janeiro, with all eyes on Messi as the Barcelona striker looks to repeat Diego Maradona’s achievements in 1986 by guiding Argentina to glory.

“Any coach with a player like Messi must do everything he can to make him feel respected so he can show his amazing ability,” said Sabella in his pre-match press conference at the Maracana. “Leo is playing really well.”

Sabella also admitted he is yet to decide whether to revert to a five-man defence for the Bosnia clash, and dismissed Argentina’s position as one of the favourites to win the World Cup.

“I’ll have to consider what I’m going to do – I have one more night to think about my system,” he added.

“I’m not trying to hide something, I just haven’t decided yet. If we make a mistake and lose a match, it’s the coach’s responsibility. I just pray and hope I make the right decisions.

“It’s really difficult to decide who will win a championship so the word ‘favourite’ means nothing.”