Lionel Messi doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. The best player in the world doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Still, he had to win over the Argentinians again. Well, winning 3-0 against Costa Rica, securing their spot in the quarter final of the Copa America with Messi setting up two goals is a start. Not nearly the perfection that’s expected from the home nation and their no.10, but it’s a start.
The pressure that was on Messi before the win over Costa Rica yesterday was ridiculous. With all the arrows and bullets Messi was taking from the media and fans, the general feeling was that it’s a bit too much. After all, putting down the most important player on the squad and pretty much telling him he’s worth Sh&^ wasn’t going to aid Sergio Batista and Argentina . Messages of support on youtube from fans of all ages and a lighter tone across the web and papers gave a better vibe heading into the match. The changes Batista made in the lineup were probably even a bigger cause for Argentina, and Messi, finally playing well.
Sergio Aguero on the left, Gonzalo Higuain in the middle and finally, Messi on the right. Finally giving up on the three defensive midfielders in the middle, giving much more freedom to Angel Di Maria to show how good he’s been for Real Madrid this year and can be for Argentina if he’s just used the right way. The newly found Fernando Gago, who seems to have almost been forgotten this last season, wasn’t a bad inclusion as well.
The biggest thing was Argentina finally creating chances, something they struggled with during the first two matches. Granted, Costa Rica are the weakest team in the group, but three goals in one match with 17 shots at goal after scoring only once during the first two matches – no one can complain.
In the second half, Messi finally felt free and relaxed, just like with Barcelona. The passes, the vision, the dribbling. The goal didn’t come, but two fantastic assists and the overall happiness he finally showed meant a great deal to Batista and his side.
As Batista put it after the match – We played very, very well. We scored the goal we had needed in the previous match, but the most important thing is that we played great football tonight. Aguero and Di Maria were brilliant, allowing Messi to take a load off. Not playing in the middle was probably even a bigger adjustment for Leo, who struggled at playmaking and being the main finisher while an entire defense rode his back. Good thing are just ahead, it seems. And still, the pessimistic side must ask – Three games and no goals from Messi? The defense, which wasn’t tested against Costa Rica, is still a huge question mark.