Messi, Sabella 'rift' bad news - Basile

ByDermot Corrigan ESPN logo
Sunday, June 22, 2014

The rumoured rift between Argentina captain Lionel Messi and manager Alejandro Sabella is bad for the Albiceleste, former national coach Alfio Basile has said.

- Baier: Messi prefers 4-3-3 formation

- Marcotti: Sabella's tactics need a rethink

Before the World Cup, the relationship between Sabella and Messi was thought to be excellent, with the coach putting in place the players and system for him to perform at his best.

However, the Argentine and Spanish press have both carried stories of disharmony in recent days, with a suggestion that Messi had "ordered" a change of tactics in the 2-1 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Argentina started the game with a 5-3-2 formation before switching to 4-3-3 with a double substitution at the break, a move Messi welcomed after the match while saying that "Sabella himself realised" that Fernando Gago and Gonzalo Higuain had to come on.

Basile, who was in charge of the national side from 1990-94 and 2006-08, told Ole that he thought it likely Sabella would have been irritated by a public debate over his authority.

"For me it is bad," he added. "The coach must be the one in charge. [Such things] should be kept in the dressing-room. Sabella will be annoyed, although he will not say anything. It will not have an effect."

Some pundits have argued that Sabella leaving Messi's friend Ever Banega out of the final squad for the World Cup had become an issue.

But Manchester City centre-back Martin Demichelis told TYC Sports Banega's exclusion showed that the coach was the one who made the calls.

"The only one who takes decisions here is Sabella, and he has our backing," he said. "They are blaming Leo. When the coach gives a list of 23, it is clear that Messi does not put in or take out anyone, because he was surprised by the exclusion of Banega."

Argentina are expected to line up in a 4-3-3 formation when they face Iran in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.

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