Plan Messi - or plan B - for Argentina
Argentina have an apparent embarrassment of attacking riches as they embark on the Copa America next month, starting with their opening fixture against makeweights Bolivia on July 1.
Buenos Aires: Argentina have an apparent embarrassment of attacking riches as they embark on the Copa America next month, starting with their opening fixture against makeweights Bolivia on July 1.
Their 2008 Olympics-winning coach Sergio Batista can call on the ultimate ace card in Lionel Messi - even though the Barcelona man has rarely shown his club form in sky blue and white at international level.
But Batista can also turn to Carlos Tevez of Manchester City, Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid and Sergio Aguero of Atletico Madrid, hence scoring goals ought on paper to be the least of the hosts` problems.
Then again, there is a school of thought which feels that Tevez and Messi do not comprise a tandem made in heaven – even if Batista insists that "Carlitos is a key man" while Messi "feels totally at ease with how he fits into the scheme of things."
"You have to pick the best players," says Batista, who seemingly has yet to make up his mind 100 percent.
Referring to Messi, he told broadcaster TN yesterday that "we will try to set up a team in which he feels comfortable beyond having a plan B for when he is not there.”
"But we have the best player in the world and we have to take advantage of that in sending out players who feel football in a similar manner to him," says Batista.
Against a weaker side such as Albania thrashed on 4-0 in a Monday friendly Argentina were able to keep everybody happy as Napoli`s Ezequiel Lavezzi scored the opener, Messi added the second, Atletico Madrid`s Sergio Aguero netted a third and substitute Tevez completed the rout in injury time.
But against the likes of Brazil, the albiceleste will be unlikely to afford such space to go on the offensive to such a degree.
As Tevez admitted afterwards: "We can`t take that game as indicative of the ones to come - which will be very tough."
Yet Messi says if Argentina, beaten by Brazil in the last two Latin American showpiece finals, go for the jugular they can hope to lift their first major trophy since their 1993 Copa success.
"We have to keep playing in this same vein as we did today (Monday) whoever we are up against," insisted the Barcelona magacian.