Two games into the 2011 Copa América, and things aren’t looking good for the host country. An astonishing one-one draw with Bolivia (Bolivia!) was followed by a nil-nil result against Colombia (Colombia!). Eek.
The stadium in which the game was played proved woefully prescient – ‘Cementerio de Elefantes’. The arena in Santa Fe is so-called because of the difficulty the big national teams (Boca Juniors, San Lorenzo, Independiente, Racing and River Plate, who were recently relegated) have in winning against Club Atlético Colón. It was boos that soundtracked the end of the game. This was an appalling show, only Romero the goalkeeper saving Argentina from a more humiliating display.
Argentina vs. Bolivia – Photo by LGEPR on Flickr
For the La Albiceleste (the Blue and Whites), their initial display in the Copa América 2011 follows a disappointing show in the World Cup. Maradona is no longer at the helm (unceremoniously forced out by the Argentine Football Association [AFA]), having given way to Sergio Batista; a popular figure, who guided the Olympic team to gold in Beijing, but is relatively green when it comes to managing a national side. And with the latest results, especially lined up against a couple of defeats in preliminary friendlies (they lost to Japan, for Dios’s sake), it looks as though his tenure may be severely limited. But let’s have a look at the team. It is mind bogglingly good. And mind boggling that it hasn’t done better.
Pablo Zabaleta and Carlos Tévez, both at Manchester City, one of the three wealthiest teams in the world, Cambiasso and Zanetti at Inter, Burdisso at Roma and then Javier Mascherano, Gabriel Milito and Lionel Messi all starting in the first team for Barcelona, indisputably the finest team in the world right now.
Messi, who I will stick my neck out for and say will go down in history as the greatest player who ever lived, can’t help but score at Barcelona – 53 goals in the 2010-2011 season. For the national team his record is poor, not scoring any goals in the World Cup or since. Check out some footage on YouTube of Messi’s performance in the Bolivia game below:
So what next?
For Argentina, the group stages continue with a game against Costa Rica on July 11 (plenty of time to figure out what is going wrong) and it looks likely with two draws they’ll make it to the quarter finals which begin on July 16. If Argentina finish in second place they’ll probably play Chile or Uruguay. And then? The semi-finals on July 19-20, followed by the final on July 24. If Argentina get their act together, then a game against Brazil, the arch-enemy, is on the agenda.
And any game between these two behemoths is a prospect to behold.
2011 Copa America Schedule: Groups & Fixtures
Finals table courtesy Wikipedia
- Costa Rica
Do you think Argentina’s form will pick up? Who is your pick for the final? Will Messi really shine on the international stage at last? Leave me a comment below and let me know.
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