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The former Paris Saint-Germain striker thought about tailoring his tactics to meet the challenge of the Argentina striker - but decided it was unfair on his players

By Liam Twomey at Estadio Maracana

Bosnia-Herzegovina coach Safet Susic admitted he pondered man-marking Lionel Messi in Sunday's clash with Argentina but opted against it after deciding it was an "impossible" job.

Susic's decision to stick with his trusted 4-5-1 formation appeared to be working, with his side still in the contest against one of the tournament favourites for much of the evening.

Sead Kolasinac's unfortunate own goal after just three minutes seperated the sides at the break with Messi a peripheral figure.

But Susic's counterpart Alejandro Sabella's tactical tweak at half-time changed the contest, the Argentina boss dumping his conservative 5-3-2 for a 4-3-3 which released the shackles on the Barcelona star.

Messi duly added a wonderful second to render Vedad Ibisevic's late goal a mere consolation and make Susic wonder what might have been.

"It is difficult to play Messi or a player like him," he said. "Initially I thought of man-marking him but it’s impossible for anyone to do that. I didn’t want to force a player to be booked once or twice.

"I gave him some freedom but I instructed my players to press the ball and try not to foul him because if he doesn’t dribble the ball, he seeks to assist his colleagues. We all know times when he has scored three or four goals in a match."

Despite the defeat there was plenty for Susic to take from the game at a packed Estadio Maracana.

He added: "We have still two games to play. I told my players this was not the key match. We could afford to lose but not by a large margin. This is what we achieved.

"Our competitors for second in the group are Iran and Nigeria. Maybe we need six points from those games, but if Argentina wins all three games maybe four will be enough."

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