Argentina coach denies rift with Messi, hails 'perfect' atmosphere

Brushing off speculation over a power struggle with star player Lionel Messi, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has insisted the atmosphere in the squad is ''perfect'' ahead of Saturday's World Cup match against Iran.

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil --

Brushing off speculation over a power struggle with star player Lionel Messi, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has insisted the atmosphere in the squad is ''perfect'' ahead of Saturday's World Cup match against Iran.

Messi appeared to question the coach's tactics in a news conference this week when he strongly advocated playing with a more offensive formation than the one Sabella used in the first game against Bosnia-Herzegovina, which Argentina struggled to win 2-1.

Dismissing speculation in Argentine media that Messi had demanded to talk publicly about the issue, Sabella said Friday that it was he who asked the Barcelona forward to speak to reporters.

Sabella said Messi's views on how Argentina should play are nothing new and ''didn't bother me at all. The atmosphere in the group is perfect.''

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