Messi eager to exert more influence

Lionel Messi is looking to exert more influence in the opposition half when Argentina meet Iran at the FIFA World Cup on Saturday.

The Barcelona star has come in for criticism at times for not reproducing his sensational domestic form at a major international tournament.

Messi silenced his doubters to an extent with a brilliant goal in Argentina's 2-1 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina in their Group F opener.

However, the 26-year-old produced a somewhat lacklustre first-half display, and the Argentina captain admits he needs to play higher up the pitch in order to put his stamp on the game.

"In the first half I found it difficult to get a hold of the ball and when I did I was very far from goal," Messi said.

"The truth is when I did have the ball I lost it a number of times and at other times I was playing it backwards.

"I was annoyed at not being able to play the game I had planned."

Messi's club and international team-mate Javier Mascherano is set to earn his 100th cap in the fixture, and the 30-year-old remains eager to succeed with Argentina.

"What is my secret? I live for this," he said. "I am not one of those players that makes the difference on the pitch, but more a player that sacrifices myself for the team."