Messi has found the net four times in Argentina's five games in Brazil, and Zabaleta claims that the team's plan will always be to use the Barcelona forward as much as possible in matches.
"We know he is our main player, our captain, the best player in the world," the Manchester City defender told reporters.
"This team is playing for him as we know how important Messi is for this team. We are so lucky to have Messi in Argentina.
"He has won four man of the match awards in a row. That is what we expect from him, always that the best player in the world will make the difference in every game, and even more so when you see he is enjoying himself."
Argentina meet Belgium in the quarter-finals in Brasilia on Saturday.