"I think the best teams in the in first games were the Netherlands and Germany," Messi said Monday. Argentina must do better after narrow Bosnia win: Sabella (JPN/Agencies)
"But I think there are still teams that haven't shown what they can do and it's difficult to draw conclusions from a single match. I think as the tournament goes on they will improve," he said.
The Netherlands stunned defending champion Spain 5-1 – a result Messi said no one expected -- while Germany thrashed Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal 4-0 in their opening games.
Messi stopped short of criticizing coach Alejandro Sabella but said he hopes Argentina will stick with the three-man attack it used in the second half against Bosnia â€” even against stronger opponents.
"We are Argentina and I think we have to focus on ourselves and not on who we're facing," Messi said.
"Of course depending on the result of a game we can change to another system. But personally I think we need to look at ourselves first and not focus on the rival," the captain said.
Sabella started the match with Messi as a one of two attackers in a 5-3-2 formation that the Barcelona star said left him and Sergio Aguero cut off from the game. Argentina played poorly and was lucky to be ahead 1-0 at half-time after an own-goal.
In the second half Sabella let Messi drop behind Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain in 4-3-3 formation, a switch that paid dividends as Messi scored a brilliant goal following a 1-2 with Higuain.
"That's how we're used to playing. That's how we played in most of the friendlies and qualifiers," Messi said. Asked why he thought Sabella chose to start the game with a more cautious lineup, he said: "You have to ask Alejandro. He makes the decisions and decided that we should go out to play that way ... Maybe he was thinking he didn't want to let the three points slip away."
Attacking midfielder Angel Di Maria said he also preferred the three-man attack.
"Playing with three up front is much easier. For Leo too, because he always has two players to pass to. And when I join up he has a third," Di Maria said after the match Sunday.
Sabella admitted his initial game plan didn't work and that the half-time change allowed Messi to get more involved in the game. Argentina plays Iran in its second match on Saturday.
Argentina must improve on Sunday's unconvincing 2-1 win over World Cup debutants Bosnia if they are to make a serious mark on the tournament, coach Alejandro Sabella said.
The twice world champions struggled to live up to their billing as one of the favourites, especially in the first half of their opening Group F match when they looked unadventurous with five defenders on the field.
They were helped by an early own goal from Sead Kolasinac before Lionel Messi lit up the game in the second half with a signature goal in front of thousands of Argentina fans in the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Sabella said he took heart from Argentina's more creative play once he scrapped his ultra-cautious starting selection at halftime and brought on striker Gonzalo Higuain and midfielder Fernando Gago to give the team more firepower.
"Obviously we need to improve and some of that improvement falls to me," he told reporters, saying he rated Argentina's performance as a six-out-of-10.
"In the first half, I think we controlled the Bosnians well but beyond that we didn't create the kind of depth that we managed in second half," he said.
Sabella told his players at halftime to pass more to Messi and to give him more options when he was on the ball. The advice paid off in the 65th minute when Messi exchanged passes with Higuain and unleashed a crisp shot that went in off the post.
"I think Messi is the best player in world, regardless of what happens in this World Cup, and he's among the best ever players in the history of football, regardless of what happens at this World Cup too," Sabella said.
The diminutive striker agreed that Argentina's performance was not good enough and voiced his frustration at not getting enough of the ball.
"In the first half, it was difficult, because we were playing deep and we let them play. I was alone and it was very difficult," Messi told reporters.
"We need to improve but the best thing is the result. It is not easy to play the first match at the World Cup with all the nerves and the pressure," he said.
"I think the best teams in the in first games were the Netherlands and Germany," Messi said Monday.
Argentina must do better after narrow Bosnia win: Sabella