How Not to Start the Copa America

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A country in depression. That was what the national team looked like, that’s what the crowd felt like. Hardly heard. Maybe it was just sound trouble that the TV technicians need to work on. The problems with the Argentina side, deciding to build everything on Lionel and try to emulate a Barcelona formation and a-la style, are harder to fix.

The game itself – One Bolivian side, one fighting a unit. A side that hasn’t won a Copa America match in ages, a side with only two players doing their thing in Europe. A side that’s never beaten Argentina away from La Paz. That same Bolivia side were the more dangerous team until the final 20 minutes. Crowding the midfield and easily disrupting any attempt of a passing game from Argentina led to a few counter attack chances, all thwarted by Romero.

Lack of concentration from Ever Banega and a neat touch from Edivaldo Rojas Hermoza made life impossible for the Argentinian side, already looking tense before the goal. It was every man for himself from that moment on, with Lavezzi and Di Maria trying to slalom their way into the goal. That didn’t work obviously. The moment Batista did the thing he should have done before the match, put Aguero on, things looked better – Argentina finally scored from a fine Aguero strike.

It’s bad enough that the fans didn’t really seem into it – maybe it’s the fact the River Plate and Gimnasia La Plata were relegated this week. Maybe it’s just the way they are with the national team. The national side didn’t give them any reason to cheer. Three defensive midfielders, a shaky and panicky defense. One Lionel Messi everyone expects to carry this team on his narrow shoulders.

This isn’t Barcelona. Their 4-3-3 works because of Xavi and Iniesta. They both have the ability to move the entire team forward, keep the ball for hours (it looks like that sometimes) while the chess pieces move around.
There’s no reason to play with Mascherano, Cambiasso and Banega against sides that have no intention of holding the ball. Why not give Pastore center stage, someone who can do stuff with the ball and just hoist it forward, hoping Messi and Tevez do something with it.

About Carlos Tevez – He and Batista don’t like each other, it’s a known fact. He doesn’t seem happy on the pitch, not for a while now. Why play him, and as a winger? Di Maria was wonderful this season with Real Madrid, and he should start. Messi should be on the right wing, with Aguero in the middle. I think that things will look a lot better with that kind of lineup. About the pressure, the expectations, the tension? I hope these don’t burden Argentina too much the rest of the way.