Argentina coach Gerardo Martino believes the huge demands placed on his players during their domestic seasons is affecting their Copa America displays.
Martino’s men led 2-0 in their opening Copa America fixture against Paraguay only to falter late on and draw 2-2, while their 1-0 victory over Uruguay which followed included a nervy final 20 minutes.
And the 52-year-old, whose side face Jamaica in their final Group B clash on Saturday, says the lethargy late in games comes from having played so much football prior to the tournament in Chile.
“It is very possible that we are lacking a bit of fitness and that is why we have been unable to complete matches,” Martino told a news conference in Vina del Mar.
“The players arrived having played with 50 to 70 matches under their belts and we had only a week to prepare for the tournament. We can do little more than just take care of them.
“Also, when your intention is to always play with the ball as we do, with a high pressing approach and mobile attitude, this requires significant energy.”
Argentina have already qualified for the quarter-finals and currently top Group B, but Martino is eager for them to end the phase with a convincing performance and a victory in order to clinch top spot.
“I would like us to play as we did for the first 60 minutes against Paraguay and the first 70 against Uruguay,” he said. “The cycle has just begun and we need to display a certain hunger since a win alone might not be enough.”
Martino said Sergio Aguero was unlikely to play any part in the match at the Estadio Sausalito due to a sprained shoulder, but he was also questioned about a couple of the tournament’s other big names in light of Arturo Vidal’s recent car crash and Neymar’s competition-ending four-match ban.
“It’s hard to give an opinion in the case of Neymar since we didn’t see what happened in the tunnel, but I can say that the first yellow card should not have been given as it was a casual, involuntary reaction,” he said.
“On Vidal, I know what decision I would have taken but I would not like to say because you may then make a different choice when you are actually in that situation.”
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