Javier Mascherano says Argentina must learn to look after its idols as he dismissed concerns that Lionel Messi missing this week's friendly in Germany meant he was no longer as committed to his national team.
The Albiceleste gained a modicum of revenge for July's World Cup final defeat to Germany with an Angel Di Maria-inspired 4-2 friendly win in Dusseldorf on Wednesday night, but national captain Messi was missing having pulled out of the squad as a precaution with a minor adductor muscle problem.
That decision had led some Argentine pundits to suggest that the Barcelona player had reconsidered his commitment to the national cause, something his Camp Nou clubmate told Ole was nonsense.
"We Argentines must learn to look after our idols," Mascherano said. "Players like Messi come along every 50 years. If we do not know how to enjoy it, that is a pity. Messi was always the first to come with the national team and it will stay like that.
"I spoke with Leo. He did not come as he has a small injury. Maybe if the game was in three or four days he would have played it. A friendly was not worth taking a risk for. He is very committed, we cannot apologise for something which has not happened."
Argentina had impressed in the first game of new national manager Gerardo 'Tata' Martino, and Mascherano said he expected further progress as the players got used to the tactics and methods of the former Barcelona coach.
"We want to have a scheme which is the same in attack, and when we lose the ball," he said. "We must change, but the style can be maintained. You could see [Tata's] intention, there were some turnovers, but that is because we have only had a few training sessions. With work that can be done.
"You can see a certain continuity [from former coach Alejandro Sabella], the team is on the path forward. I hope we can keep going like this. Many times not winning a trophy gives you motivation for other things. We have won the affection of the fans and that is very important."