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Copa America: Argentina thrilled to escape embarrassment but is their crisis over?

Argentina escaped what would have been a humiliating elimination from the group stage of the Copa America, with a convincing 3-0 victory over Costa Rica in front of a 54,000 strong crowd.

A double from Atletico Madrid’s Juventus targets Sergio Aguero, as well as another from Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria was enough for the competition hosts, who will now await results to see which nation they will face in the quarter finals.

Chile, Uruguay, or Peru await Sergio Batista’s men, however for the time being, the Argentinean’s are simply relieved to have avoided what would have been their first elimination in the opening round of the tournament since 1983.

Real tonic

“This was a real tonic, just what we needed,” the hero of the night Aguero told reporters immediately after the game.

“We played very well and got the goals, but the main thing was we gelled as a team. Now we have to keep it up.”

The home side came into the match knowing that failure to defeat their Central American opponents would all but end their quest to win their 15th ever Copa, and first since 1993.

Aguero’s highly rated team-mate, Javier Pastore, echoed his comments, insisting that the victory was crucial for the nation, and a credit to the attitude and efforts of the players.

Attitude

“That was a really important win and a good team performance. Our attitude was spot on,” Palermo’s Pastore satisfyingly declared.

“We understood that we were playing a final, and luckily the goals came. We also saw the quality of football we have been looking for.

“We played a big game, played with everything and we managed to push forward in a game which was closed in the first half.”

Following the harsh criticism received following their disappointing draws with Colombia and Bolivia, Batista simply had to ring the changes for their latest clash, four of which he decided to make.

As a direct result, the under fire coach felt that the urgency and mentality of his players increased, which ultimately brought out the best in his squad.

Penetration

“We sought more penetration and bodies in attack,” Batista affirmed.

“There was a change of mentality here and we kept the ball without confusion, we did not let ourselves become disorganized.

“I have always had a strong view on how football should be played, but I am not too proud to change. We are always looking for the best for this team.”

Under immense pressure however, Batista’s move did pay off, and Argentina secured the crucial win, that now gives them every chance of going on to win the tournament.

Despite their lack of consistency, the signs are there for everyone to see, in that they are capable of achieving great things in the future.

Magical Messi

After dropping two of his front three, the magical Lionel Messi was the sole survivor of Batista’s attacking trident, with Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero in alongside him. Having also been heavily criticized for his own individual performances in the opening two fixtures, the Barcelona superstar simply had to excel in order to get his team over the line – and that he did.

Involved in almost every forward movement, Messi was at the centre of everything on the night, and tore the opposing defence to shreds. With the world on his shoulders, the 23-year-old was able to orchestrate the second and third goals, gaining deserved recognition and praise from his boss at the completion of the contest.

“He played a fantastic game,” Batista added, in regards to his side’s driving force on the night.

“We talked a lot about the emotional and individual state of the team before the match. We needed to regain our confidence. Lionel knows how to overcome these situations. He has great character.”

Ongoing problems

Despite Messi’s dominance on the night, he and his team-mates have failed to perform consistently for some time now, and this remains the ongoing issue for Batista to contend with. Nevertheless, the promising signs are there, however it is important that they do build on this performance in their next fixture.

For a country of such significance in the football world, to have not won a major piece of silverware for almost two decades is simply unheard of, and they must call upon all of their talent and experience in order to change that this time around.

Replicating their latest performance against the stronger sides remaining in the tournament will not be an easy task, however if they can maintain this level of confidence and their self-belief belief, then perhaps their mini crisis may be over.

Can Argentina win the 2011 Copa America?

Tue 12 July, 2011
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