sport

Argentina v Iran preview

Argentina can secure their place in the 2014 FIFA World Cup round of 16 with victory over Iran at the Estadio Mineirao on Saturday.

Argentina's coach Alejandro Sabella has accepted he made a mistake in their opening match of the World Cup and will play with Lionel Messi's favoured formation.

Messi was critical of Sabella choosing to play with five defenders against Bosnia and Herzegovina and it was only at half-time, after the coach reverted to the usual 4-3-3 formation, that Argentina began to look impressive.

Argentina face Iran in Belo Horizonte in their second Group F game and Sabella insisted that Messi had been right to speak out.

Sabella told a news conference: "I was not hurt by Leo's comment and he has said that before. He likes to play 4-3-3 with Di Maria up front.

"He was asked him how he likes to play and he answered what he thinks in a respectful way. We respect each other, we have a very strong team spirit. It is good to have an open dialogue with my players.

"Sometimes players learn from the coaches and sometimes we learn from them.

"We can all make mistakes you know. Tomorrow we will start with a 4-3-3 formation and we will take it from there. We may have to change the formation or not."

It was only after the change against Bosnia that Argentina started playing fluently, culminating in an excellent individual goal by Messi, who said a 4-3-3 formation makes it much easier for him and fellow striker Sergio Aguero.

Messi said: "As strikers we prefer that system as it gives us more attacking opportunities and if we don't use that system we suffer a bit.

"We as strikers favour that line-up. In the first half I was often on my own and so was Kun [Aguero] and it was very difficult, so there are things to be improved on."

Sabella said he had no issue with Messi going public over this concerns.

"I am the one who encouraged Messi to [say that] and I fully trust all my players from a human and professional standpoint," he said.

"We have a two-way street in our dialogue because if you don't let them say what they want to say then you won't get the best out of them."

Iran drew 0-0 against Nigeria in their opening game but coach Carlos Queiroz admitted they were up against it.

He said: "It will require a miracle since Argentina are one of the best teams in the world and also they have one day of rest more than we do."