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New Argentina coach aims for collective approach with Messi

Associated Press logo Associated Press 8/06/2017

MELBOURNE, Australia — Jorge Sampaoli's main aim when he makes his debut as Argentina coach revolves around playing Lionel Messi "collectively" as part of the team in a friendly against Brazil at the sold-out Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday.

Sampaoli, the former Chile and Sevilla manager, has outlined his long-term plan to build a more cohesive unit that plays to Messi's strengths.

"I believe Messi has been playing collectively in Barcelona as part of a team," Sampaoli said on Thursday. "That's the type of synergy we want to create in the Argentina team."

Sampaoli said he didn't want his star playmaker working in an isolated manner, so "we're going to push for the team to play collectively with Messi to get the best out of him."

"The comparison between Messi playing for Barcelona and Messi playing for Argentina is clear because of that."

Messi was expected to start on Friday, as well as the Juventus pair of Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain and Paris Saint-Germain's Angel Di Maria.

Brazil is playing two friendlies in Australia without star forward Neymar.

Sampaoli said he hasn't made a final decision on how to set up against a Brazil side still featuring Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, David Luiz, Douglas Costa and Thiago Silva.

"There's a style we want to follow, however there are certain nuances that will allow us to be unpredictable," Sampaoli said. "Neymar is a very important player, definitely one of the best in the world, so Brazil is going to feel his loss. However, Brazil has really good players able to pick up the team's performance without him."

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