Zabaleta lauds Messi impact

2014-07-03 08:51
Lionel Messi (Supplied)
Lionel Messi (Supplied)
Cape Town - Pablo Zabaleta believes Argentina are lucky to have Lionel Messi, "the best player in the world", representing them at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The Barcelona striker has long carried the hopes of the nation on his shoulders, and although he has previously struggled to cope with that pressure, his form at Brazil 2014 has helped lead the side into the quarter-finals.

And, ahead of Saturday's crunch last-eight clash, Zabaleta has spoken of his delight at having a player of Messi's calibre representing the team.

"We know he is our main player, our captain, the best player in the world," Zabaleta said. "This team is playing for him as we know how important Messi is. We are so lucky to have Messi.

"He has won four man of the match awards in a row. That is what we expect from him, always that the best player in the world will make the difference in every game, and even more so when you see he is enjoying himself.

"Every time we recover the ball we try to pass to him as he is the best player we have in the team and he will score goals.

"Messi has been one of the best players in the world for many years and you always expect a lot of things from them, like Maradona many years ago.

"That is why we need to keep working hard. This team is doing well in the World Cup. We try always to keep a clean sheet as we know we have quality enough to score goals.

"What we try to do is defend well as we know in front we have a lot of quality - Messi, Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi. All of them are quick, fast players. They always produce something and this is very important for the team."

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