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Copa America 2011: Argentina in a 'Do or Die' Situation Against Costa Rica

Messi: The Focus Will be on Him Once Again

Argentina tonight takes on Costa Rica in their final group match of the Copa America 2011 at Cordoba. Coming into the match after two initial draws where they were the favorites, Argentina failed to show character and didn’t live up to expectation. Perhaps, Sergio Batista’s side would have never imagined that their last group match could be so crucial in deciding their tournament’s progress.

With Columbia already through to the Quarter Final with a win against Bolivia and Costa Rica and drawing with the host, Bolivia on the other hand is out of contention after two loses though they manage to hold Messi and Co. So the second spot is still up for grasp.

As for Argentina, they have two points from two matches and a win will only take them through to the next round while Costa Rica, with three points, after defeating Bolivia will be through even if they can just manage a draw. This put Argentina on the back foot who have sorely disappointed till now.

Despite two draws, Coach Batista is still confident of playing the Copa America final, when he spoke about a high in preparation for tonight’s match.  “For the next game we will have many talks with the players to get up in the soul, it will be essential. Although we also know we have to improve in all three lines. Now we have four finals to go, and the first is Monday against Costa Rica. I see myself playing the final of the Copa America … is a title we need,” said the coach.

Finally, he referred to the level of the star of the team: “Messi is the best player in the world and it is going to win the pampering of the people. We must take advantage of the best. The applause will come when it has to go. is mature and will overcome all pressures. He loves the national team, Messi cannot do enough to have this shirt, beyond that sometimes things can go or not. “

Meanwhile Batista have announced four changes in the squad with the aim to free Messi from close marking in the middle. “We needed more ball movement and Fernando (Gago) does that very well,” Batista told a news conference, referring to using the Real Madrid midfielder in place of Ever Banega.

“And now we’re going to have a number nine high up, even two,” he added referring to bringing in Gonzalo Higuain andSergio Aguero in place of the ineffective Carlos Tevez and Ezequiel Lavezzi. The other change is Angel Di Maria on the left of midfield instead of Esteban Cambiasso, a winger in place of a defensive midfielder.

Messi, as a roaming centre forward, suffered the close attentions of the markers. Perhaps a free roaming Messi on the right would rather draw markers away from the Argentine creative hub.

Answering queries’ about plan to drop Messi, the 2008 Beijing Olympic winning team Coach said, “The idea is always to build a team around Messi … It’s very hard to drop him because, for me, he is a 90-minute player. He can play badly a while, but he can always show you something,”

Team: Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Nicolas Burdisso, Gabriel Milito, Javier Zanetti; Fernando Gago, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero.


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