Lionel Messi claims Argentina will improve despite unconvincing FIFA World Cup performances in the two victories which have secured qualification for the knock-out rounds.
Messi came to the rescue again against Iran on Saturday, scoring in injury time to clinch a 1-0 win. That followed another Messi trademark goal to ensure a 2-1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Argentina’s opening match.
The Barcelona forward said: “If we analyse both matches we might say we can play better but as we progress in the tournament we will improve and reach our full potential. We know we are not playing as well as we are expected. But we have qualified for the next round and that was our first objective.”
Messi, who called his goal “a wonderful moment”, admitted it had been difficult to overcome the challenge posed by a determined Iran side. “It was difficult to break down their defence and find space,” added Messi. “It’s tough to play against teams that close up like they did.
“We have to correct our mistakes and we are the first to realise that we aren’t playing at the level we want to. We were at least able to get the three points which means we don’t have to suffer in the last match.”
Argentina’s manager Alejandro Sabella, not for the first time, paid tribute to Messi’s influence. He said: “All the players contributed to the victory but of course we have a genius who is called Messi. Fortunately he is Argentine – everyone would like to have Messi but it is us who have him.”
Argentina will meet the runner-up from Group E – likely to be either Ecuador or Switzerland – in Sao Paulo if they top Group F.