Argentina’s Coach Edgardo Bauza has denied that his captain’s importance to the team should be considered cause for concern. “I do not think the team is Messi-dependent,”he said after last night’s win. “For me, the team played a great game that contained a great team like Chile. We won against a great rival.”

His coach may downplay Messi’s importance but, in the Barcelona star’s absence, Argentina lost on that visit to Paraguay and could only draw with Peru and Venezuela.  The only defeat Messi has figured in during Bauza’s reign came in last November’s clásico against a Brazil side featuring his club-mate Neymar, a defeat that can perhaps be explained by the fact that he failed to get on the scoresheet.

The Argentinian icon has now scored 18 goals in World Cup qualifying matches, the first of them coming against Venezuela in October 2007. With the exception of the meeting with Colombia that same year, his side has won every qualifier in which he has found the net, the latest being the one in which he single-handedly exorcised the ghosts of Copa America shootouts past.