Argentina are more than just me - Messi

The Barcelona star has underlined the importance of his team-mates and is eagerly anticipating the clash with Netherlands
Lionel Messi has insisted that Argentina would remain a force to be reckoned with at the World Cup even in his absence.

The 27-year-old has been in sublime form so far this tournament, netting four goals in five appearances as well as creating a single assist, leading to criticism that Argentina are too reliant on their star man.

However, Messi has stressed that there's more to the Albiceleste than just his match-winning abilities.

"I absolutely do not agree that Argentina are nothing without me," Messi was quoted as saying by Times of India.

"Football is a team game, so whoever says that does not portray the actual scenario.

"Yes, I scored a few important goals which have helped our team, but there are 10 other members of the team who helped us reach where we are now.

"Gonzalo Higuain scored the all-important winner against Belgium and we all were happy to defend the lead for the remaining part of the game. Everybody had to fight for everything."

The Barcelona forward then went on to discuss the role of Angel Di Maria, who will miss Wednesday's semi-final against Netherlands due to injury after picking up a knock versus Belgium in the quarter-finals.

"Angel has been an integral part of the side on and off the field. He has played really well before he had to leave the ground. It was shocking.

"His decisive runs inside the opponent's defensive third helped us create space for the strikers as well. We'll miss him but Argentina will play at their best."

Messi was full of respect for Netherlands ahead of Wednesday's World Cup semi-final and made it clear that it will be vital for Argentina to keep a clean sheet.

"They have reached the semi-finals for the second consecutive time and they will be looking to add something to their performances which can take them to the final. They are just a step away from achieving such a wonderful target.  

"As an opponent, they deserve what they've achieved and on Wednesday, they will be even more eager on the field. We have to concentrate more on not conceding goals."