Some individuals are making a fuss about the truth that Lionel Messi has 76 targets for Argentina, only one fewer than Pele’s complete for Brazil, which is the report for South American male gamers. Others are making a fuss concerning the prospect of Copa America glory propelling Messi to a different world participant of the 12 months award. The person himself, nonetheless, is unlikely to be involved with both matter.
Messi has solely ever seen particular person awards because the consequence of profitable work in a collective context. It’s all concerning the group and now, greater than at some other time in his profession, the group is Argentina (and never simply because, strictly talking, he doesn’t have a membership after his Barcelona contract expired).
He may have been forgiven for dropping by the wayside on worldwide soccer after the shambles that was Argentina’s 2018 World Cup marketing campaign, which ended on the round-of-16 stage. As a substitute, he has gone all in.
For years there was an air of aloofness round Messi, along with his self-contained nature mentioned to intimidate different Argentina gamers. However starting with the 2019 Copa, he has been totally different; a vocal, encouraging captain and chief, built-in into the group each as a human being and as a footballer.
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Messi dovetails with midfielders Giovani Lo Celso and Rodrigo De Paul and is growing a relationship with centre-forward Lautaro Martinez. Argentina are a greater group than at any time because the 2016 Copa America Centenario and, having reached the most recent version’s semifinals, are two video games away from a primary senior title since 1993. Messi, in the meantime, is 2 video games away from his first senior worldwide title.
Each video games might be very tough, nonetheless. Argentina should first get previous Colombia on Tuesday and in the event that they do, except there’s a main shock within the different semifinal, will tackle Brazil 4 days later in Rio. In that state of affairs, the Albiceleste must beat the final two groups to have crushed them: Two years in the past, Colombia and Brazil earned 2-0 wins within the Copa group stage and semifinals respectively.
Towards Colombia, Messi and Co. are in for an epic battle with defensive midfielder Wilmar Barrios, probably the greatest man markers within the recreation. There’s something of the younger Javier Mascherano within the 27-year-old, who’s fast throughout the bottom, robust within the deal with, crisp in his passing and loves nothing greater than a battle.
The 2 nations met in a World Cup qualifier in Colombia simply earlier than the Copa started. Amazingly, Barrios began on the bench and Colombia shortly caved, conceding two targets within the opening eight minutes. They needed to chase the sport, and risked leaving themselves open to the counter, however Barrios got here on at half-time.
Whereas he handled the hazard by to organizing issues in entrance of his centre-backs, Colombia may consider assault and levelled the scores with the final assault of the sport, claiming a significant level on the street to Qatar 2022. Argentina’s defence buckled ultimately, and Colombia are arrange for a repeat efficiency on Tuesday.
Coach Reinaldo Rueda seems to have given up on having a playmaker, with one of the best that Edwin Cardona can hope for is a run off the bench if Colombia are chasing the sport. As such, Barrios might be joined within the center by one other defensive midfielder, whereas Juan Guillermo Cuadrado will return after suspension to hold out his double function on the appropriate, coming inside to mark and going outdoors as a winger.
Luis Diaz will assault from the left and Duvan Zapata will lead a two man entrance line, looking for to bully an defence that regarded at risk of leaking towards Ecuador within the quarterfinals, when a 3-0 Argentina win was barely misleading. They’ve solely scored thrice in 5 video games, however Colombia might be fast, direct and bodily.
Within the different last-four recreation, on Monday, host nation Brazil will count on to have fewer obstacles towards a Peru facet missing the excellent Andre Carrillo, who was considerably harshly despatched off within the quarterfinal after enjoying a heroic function towards Paraguay.
There may be appreciable latest historical past between Brazil and Peru. 5 years in the past in Foxborough, Mass., a 1-0 win for Peru within the Copa Centenario group stage 5 years in the past condemned Brazil to a humiliating elimination and introduced down the curtain on the second reign as coach of Dunga, paving the best way for Tite to take cost,
Peru have since gained once more on American soil — a 1-0 September 2019 pleasant triumph in Los Angeles — however the spoils in aggressive video games have gone to Brazil, who gained two World Cup qualifiers in Lima and have three wins in Copa America play: 5-0 within the group section and 3-1 within the last two years in the past, in addition to — most just lately — a 4-0 mauling on this event’s first spherical.
Within the absence of Carrillo, it’s onerous to see how the Peruvians can cease that run of defeats, not least as a result of Brazil are on the bounce from a disappointing quarterfinal show, the place Tite clearly picked the flawed group towards Chile.
His 4-4-2, with Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison broad and Neymar and Roberto Firmino central, left the group outnumbered in midfield — the formation is extra suited to attacking video games — however the coach’s half-time introduction of an additional attacking midfielder instantly solved the issue when the substitute, Lucas Paqueta, scored the sport’s solely objective.
Moments later, Gabriel Jesus was despatched off and his absence by suspension ought to make it simpler to accommodate Paqueta from the kickoff on Monday night time, when Peru’s largest ally would appear to be the deplorable state of the pitch at Rio de Janeiro’s Nilton Santos stadium.
Tite pleaded that one other venue be discovered for the semifinal, to no avail. CONMEBOL have been spooked by the poor enjoying surfaces, although, and the Maracana has been relaid forward of Saturday’s last, within the hope of manufacturing a pitch worthy of a fantastic event that includes Neymar and Messi, or perhaps even Zapata.