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For Sabella, the brain comes first

Sao Paulo: With two World Cup matches already decided in shoot-outs, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella says his team have been practising penalties ahead of their game against Switzerland.

“We have been practising penalties. We know pretty well that practising penalties in training is very different from doing it in front of tens of thousands of spectators with the team’s World Cup survival at stake. But we need to prepare well. The mental strength and character will be crucial to advancing… For me, a gram of brains weighs more than a kilogram of muscle.”

Argentina won all three of their group matches with captain Lionel Messi scoring four of the team’s six goals.

Sabella hailed Lionel Messi’s “amazing” form and compared him to Diego Maradona during the team’s winning run in 1986.

Sabella said he never had any doubts that Messi, who has not always produced his best at international level, would star at the tournament.

“Messi’s playing an amazing World Cup, that’s what everybody expected,” Sabella said. “I expected him to lead from the front, so did his colleagues and so did all Argentines in general. So we’re happy for the team and for him as well. Maradona was a very important player for us during that time and Messi is important as well.”