My dish connection doesn't have Neo Sports, the channel which telecasts Copa America in India. I actually watch it in a friends shop, Rajab - my dvd guy, after taking lot of pains like waking up very early in the morning and so on. To watch football, and especially Messi, I dont care going to any limits. But today, I felt sad, terribly sad. Even when Argentina lost to Germany in the WC quarters, I wasn't this sad. I knew it was going to happen any time, with Deigo as their coach, as the previous match against Mexico was a prelude to it. But Batista, the current Argentine coach is making Deigo look like a wizard on tactics, like a Guardiola or a Del Bosque.
After the world cup defeat, Grondona the man who leads Argentine football since '79, had some good options but chose Batista to be the new coach, as he won the Olympic gold at Beijing. Grondona ignored that Batista had taken Argentina to a 6th position amongst 10 qualifiers for the U-20 WC in Latin America. Anyways, here comes the new coach, announces his love for Barcelona football and wants to play the team around Messi. (These days every coach in the world dreams to play like Barcelona, but nobody tries that system in a tournament with only 20 days of preparation). Good. He wins few meaningless friendlies and recently played 3 friendly match with Argentina C team, the result Argentina went down to no.10, from 5 in the FIFA rankings. Anyways, all what matters is the Copa America, which is like a prelude to the next WC in Brazil.
From team selection to on field tactics, he has been horrible, exactly following the path of Deigo, that Deigo the worst coach in the last WC is looking better actually now.
He chose Gabi Milito for the centre back, who hasnt started even 10 matches for Barca this season. Whenever Milito played at the CB, Barca always conceded a goal actually. He completely ignores Otamandi, who won everything with FC Porto last season, ignores Ansaldi a decent full back. He plays Zanetti, 38 now, and Rojo who is yet to understand that a full back has to perform some attacking duties. Result: Argentina's backline is a shame, neither can they defend decently, nor can the full backs be of any assistance in attack.
In the midfield, he has 3 defensive midfielders, Mascherrano and Cambiasso who at Barcelona and Inter are considered among the best D M's in the world. In fact Masche was playing Centre back for most of the last games in Barca and he excelled there. He would be a better Centre back than Milito actually. Plus there is Banega, who too is a defensive mid fielder, who actually doesnt start all the games at Valencia. Result: There is no centre midfielder, a creative player like Xavi or Requelme or an attacking midfielder like Iniesta. The space between midfield and the attacking line is too huge that balls will not reach the forward line easily. His substitute today, for Banega, was Gago, who started less than 5 games for Real Madrid last season.
In the attack, he prefers Tevez and Lavezzi to partner Messi. Both these players are extremely individualistic players. Along with Aguero and D.Milito, all these 4 players looks better when they play as lone strikers. Out of the lot, it might be Aguero and De Maria who could make a better partnership with Messi. Result: The forward line is in shambles. Tevez and Lavezzi's sole aim looks like proving they are even better than Messi.
Because there is no offensive midfielder, Messi has to come deep down for the ball. In the Bolivia match, we could see Messi picking up the ball even from Argentine penalty box. Messi is a team player. We can see him changing a game all by himself many times, but he believes in team play. Some Barca player mentioned that Messi is neither a striker, nor a winger nor an attacking midfield player. He is all in one. He likes and excels playing in all these parts in the same game and he excells there. In a Barca game Messi actively participate in the passing game between Xavi and Iniesta in the midfield and creates goals as much as he scores. He had 25 assists last season (some of them can even embarass Xavi), a huge number for a forward who scored 53 goals in a season. But it looks like none of the Barca attack lines, Tevez, Lavezzi and Banega who is asked to play the offensive MF role here, seems to understand the passing game of Messi. In the Bolivia match, we saw even Zanetti trying to dribble, taking things to own hands. Except for Messi, nobody in that match wanted to pass, making Argentine attack very direct. And Messi was often seen in the centre of the pitch, even Cambiasso playing ahead of him. Messi created at least 4 passes in that match, which Tevez and Lavezzi wasted. Batista, at the end had to say, he did not want to see Messi in the midfield. Messi is a player, who even without the ball, can create spaces for his team mates with his positioning and runs. None of Messi's Argentine mates are interested in using these spaces or they are not instructed to do so.
Against Columbia, it seemed Messi was strictly asked to be on the penalty box. And we could see the best player in the world, the 24 year old player who is on the edge of being crowned, the only FIFA Balon d'Or winner, consecutively for 3 years in December 2011, waiting in the opposition box, with the ball never reaching him. And even if it did, it was easy for Columbia to crowd him out. Once again, two brilliant passes by Messi was wasted by Lavezzi and Aguero. (In the last two games, I havent seen one single time when Tevez or Lavezzi making a good pass around the box).
As the game progressed, it was for sure that there is something seriously wrong with Argentina. They were all some individuals, no team. Towards 83-84 minutes, the TV camera was on Messi and you could see he is just about to burst in tears. We saw the same face during the Germany match, when Deigo Maradona said, Messi cried like a child in the dressing room. I am sure Messi cried today as well.
It requires enormous effort to play like this with some of the best footballers in the world. In the Castrol rankings (however stupid it may be) Argentina is only behind Spain in the no. of players it have in the first 100. And to make the No.1 look so ordinary is a sin, a grave sin committed by the coach. Batista before the Copa had announced that he didnt want Tevez in the team as he was sure he will not be good together with Messi. It is surprising that he made a u turn and took Tevez in and has started both the matches.
At least, why doesn't he use Pastore as offensive midfielder, who started 80% of Palermo games in Serie A and is now valued above 50 Million by most clubs. May be Pastore is too young to play such an important role. Considering that he has so many players like Tevez, Higuain, Aguero, Milito who can be sole strikers, why cant he ask Messi to play in the mid field. Messi is a brilliant creator of goals.
I dont understand this coach. After the disappointing Bolivia match his words were, Lets see after the next match. Argentina has only one more match now, against Costa Rica, and what is he waiting for. His after the match comments only ensures that he is the only person who is not seeing what football fans and writers from around the world see. Most probably he will play the same failed system against Costa Rica too. He cannot play Barca football with players who are ultra individualistic. Except Messi and Masche nobody in Argentine team seems to put team above self.
For the first time in my life, I am following Argentina since 1982 - even before I was 10 years, I wish Argentina go out of this tournament. That would be the only way to get Batista's bags packed. Hopefully, Grondona then will not go back to Deigo and get some good coach, so that Argentina can have some hope for the next World Cup.
Having some of the world's best footballers at disposal, if one doesn't know how to use the worlds most amazing player ever, it is a grave sin. He makes Messi look like a national player coming back to play with his school team. This is a disgrace for the beautiful game. Batista, please leave.
Or dear Leo, please do not play for Argentina, until they find a good coach. You are solely responsible for Argentina earning millions from the unnecessary friendly matches, so you could take a stand here. For Argentine people seems to cherish you, when you do wonders at Barcelona. But when you play for an Argentina elleven, surrounded by 10 other stars, they blame you for everything, making you just a Catalan.
Knowing how much you want to win something with the Albiceleste, it is terrible that the majority Argentine public and some stupid journalists make you the scapegoat that you did not dribble out the fifth defender and score.