Argentina trying to solve Messi, Tevez puzzle
Updated: 2011-07-07 10:59
Argentina's Carlos Tevez (11), Lionel Messi (10) and Javier Zanetti walk off the field after drawing against Bolivia in the opening match of the Copa America Argentina 2011 soccer tournament in La Plata July 1, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
Batista can't bench Messi. Tevez, the most popular player in Argentina, is also untouchable. That puts Batista under non-stop scrutiny, with Argentina hosting the Copa America and expected to win the tournament for its first major title in 18 years.
"Pay attention to Argentina because it's a sleeping giant that can wake up at any minute," Colombia star forward Falcao Garcia said.
Everyone has an opinion why Messi hasn't produced for Argentina. Many believe it's because Messi has often been forced to drop into midfield to receive the ball. That happened often against Bolivia.
"Messi played too far back and this can't happen again," Batista said. "Everyone can't be in front of Messi."
Sergio Aguero scored Argentina's goal in the opener, coming off the bench to replace Lavezzi. Angel Di Maria, Batista's first choice until Tevez rejoined the team, came on for Esteban Cambiasso.
"Leo (Messi) is relaxed," Aguero said. "People expect he can win the game by himself. But there are 11 of us on the field."
Tevez was left out of the Argentina team after he declined to play against Brazil in a friendly late last year in Doha, Qatar. He rejoined last month when Batista, under public pressure, called him up again and gave him a starting role in place of Di Maria.
Colombia leads Group A with three points after defeating Costa Rica 1-0 in its opener. No matter what the outcome is Wednesday in Santa Fe, both Colombia and Argentina will still be expected to make the quarterfinals, which is where the action starts.
Costa Rica is fielding a youth team, and few expect it to reach the knockout stage.
Costa Rica plays Bolivia on Thursday in Jujuy.
Uruguay faces Chile on Friday in Group C, with Peru facing Mexico the same day. On Saturday, Brazil plays Paraguay in Group B and Venezuela goes against Ecuador.