Goals will come says Messi
World footballer of the year Lionel Messi is not worried he has so far failed to score at the World Cup as long as Argentina keep winning.
The Barcelona star hit the post and forced two good saves from Greece goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas last night, the second of which provided the rebound for veteran striker Martin Palermo to wrap up a 2-0 victory at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
Diego Maradona's side coasted through Group B with maximum points and seven goals - none of which have yet come from the mercurial feet of Messi.
That is a combination of bad luck and the close attention he is receiving - Sokratis Papastathopoulos rarely left his side in last night's game - but the knock-on effect is that team-mates are benefiting.
"I know I still haven't scored but I'm not bothered about that," said Messi, who two days short of his 23rd birthday was made Argentina's youngest captain for the Greece game.
"Obviously I'd like to get a goal but it's only a question of time before it comes.
"The way Greece played made it tough for us. All they did was defend.
"Luckily we managed to impose ourselves again and we got another win, and that's what matters."
Maradona, who has been canny enough to give Messi a free role behind the two strikers as opposed to stationing him on the right wing where he occupies most of his time for Barcelona, is desperate for the number 10 to score.
"I was sorry Messi didn't get a goal," he said after the Greece victory.
"I dived on the ground when his shot hit the post and if there'd been a swimming pool around I'd have jumped in head first."
Midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, who made his comeback from a calf injury as one of seven changes as Maradona rotated his side, has warned opponents they may find a way to nullify the threat of Messi but they will not stop Argentina scoring.
Maradona has brought six forwards to the World Cup with Liverpool midfielder Maxi Rodriguez and Benfica's Angel di Maria providing the attacking options from midfield.
Greece's plan to frustrate Messi by crowding him out was successful for long periods but Otto Rehhagel's side still found it was impossible to defend for 90 minutes without allowing Argentina a chance.
That the first goal went, fortuitously, to defender Martin Demichelis when he headed Messi's corner against team-mate Diego Milito and then smashed home the rebound is somewhat irrelevant.
If anything it proved that for all their attractive football Argentina pose as much of a threat from set-pieces and so defending in numbers from open play cannot guarantee a clean sheet.
"We realised what we had to do when we saw Greece did not propose anything other than defending," said the former Manchester United and Chelsea midfielder.
"Definitely the result was fair as any other ending would have been really unfair as Argentina were the only team who created anything and were always at the forefront.
"They marked Leo (Messi) very closely to try to cut off the flow of the game but we always find space by changing positions.
"It took a lot of work but the goal came when we needed it. From there it opened up a little and it finished better.
"I'm happy for the goals of Micho (Demichelis) and Martin because they deserve it.
"It is also very good not to always depend on the same scorers. It is an option we have and others do not."
Argentina now face Mexico at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday in a repeat of their last-16 clash four years ago in Germany.
Then it took a wonder-goal from Rodriguez to settle the issue so Argentina will not take Javier Aguirre's free-flowing side for granted.
"We are driven by our dreams and desires but we know this is a long tournament and if we do not have a cool head at any time we will stumble," said the 35-year-old Estudiantes midfielder.
"Now it is inevitable we will meet good teams. We play Mexico and we must be prepared for whatever comes.
"We are going very well and we are all on the same wavelength, a factor that is key in a World Cup."
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more