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Argentina must abandon Barcelona plan

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Tim Vickery | 19:10 UK time, Sunday, 10 July 2011

If the Titanic had reached New York it would have been just another ship ride. The fascination lies in the failure.

The thought kept running through my mind last Wednesday night as I watched Argentina ride their luck to hold Colombia to a 0-0 draw in the Copa America. The game was like an iceberg - an appropriate image given the Arctic conditions - that left the big idea of Argentina coach Sergio Batista holed below the waterline. The project to mould the national side in the shape of Barcelona will surely have to be abandoned. The slavish copy of the 4-3-3 with Lionel Messi in that false number nine position has not been a success - and the players know it.

Watching Argentina was a lot like seeing the air removed from one of those inflatable men. The team took the field swelling with hope, fanatical provincial crowd behind them, ready to show that the debut draw against Bolivia was nothing but a case of opening-night nerves. And then during the course of the 90 minutes they visibly deflated, shrinking in front of our eyes as their faith in what they were doing seeped away.

In part this is a story of the contemporary primacy of European club football, of how the outstanding teams in the Champions League are now a global reference, setting standards throughout the game.

Argentina and Messi have struggled in the Copa America so far. Photo: AP

Argentina and Messi have struggled in the Copa America so far. Photo: AP

And to be fair, Batista was perfectly entitled to attempt an imitation Barcelona. It seemed to supply an off-the-peg solution to a vital question - that of how to get the best out of Messi at international level.

There was some promising evidence in friendlies - especially the first 45 minutes away to the USA at the end of March, when Argentina looked worthy of the comparison they had set themselves.

Friendlies, though, can be unreliable witnesses. After two ineffective Copa America matches, one of Winston Churchill's pithy observations seems appropriate - however beautiful the strategy, one should occasionally stop to have a look at the results.

That time has clearly come for the Copa hosts, who, almost incredibly, are going into their final group game still scrambling around for points in order to qualify for the quarter finals - and this in a tournament where only four of the 12 teams fail to make it out of the group stage.

Tournaments are like time speeded up. Some teams fall apart, others suddenly come together, making a year's progress in half a week as the elements reform and come back together in a more effective combination. By far the biggest test of Batista's coaching career is coming up. Can he find a new formula and convince his players that he has found the way forward?

The first tactical change is obvious - the introduction of Gonzalo Higuain up front. Very, very few teams can play attacking football without a penalty-area presence. Barcelona can do it. Holland could do it in 1974.

Almost everyone else benefits from the capacity to take defenders out of the game by playing up to some sort of target man. Without such a figure there is a constant obligation to play perfect football, to have slick passing and moving in restricted spaces plus the occasional touch of genius in one-against-one situations.

Some presence in the box can also bring out the best in skilful players coming from deep, either by dragging defenders away or simply by offering a strong option for a pass - Brazil have also suffered from the absence in their starting line up of a genuine number nine.

One of the most inspired balls that playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso gave against Paraguay on Saturday was the little slip that set up substitute Fred, the only centre forward in the squad, for the last-minute equaliser in the 2-2 draw.

So Higuain will have to come in for Argentina. So too will Angel Di Maria.
I found it difficult to understand the one change that Batista made for the Colombia game - left back Marcos Rojo dropping out, Pablo Zabaleta coming in at right back, and Javier Zanetti crossing over to the other flank.

With no Rojo and no Di Maria, Argentina were without a naturally left-footed player down that flank. Instead of creating space they played into the hands of the Colombian marking. So, to open out the field, Di Maria goes wide left, Higuain is central and Sergio Aguero can cut in from the right, with Messi free to wander behind them. Carlos Tevez is left on the bench, behind Javier Pastore as the first attacking option.

All this armchair generalship, of course, totally ignores the emotional aspect, which is so important at a time like this. Do Argentina's players and coaching staff really believe they can win the Copa with a revamped line-up - and could their faith survive some missed chances or a goal conceded?

Normally such questions would not even be raised against an experimental young Costa Rica side. But these are not normal conditions. The pressure is cranking up.

And to add spice to the occasion, the opposing coach is Ricardo La Volpe, he of the big moustache and even bigger ego. An Argentine who has done much of his coaching in Mexico, La Volpe feels something like a prophet without much prestige in the land of his birth. He would thoroughly enjoy putting one over Sergio Batista - and in explosive striker Joel Campbell he might feel that he has a potent secret weapon.

On paper, of course, Argentina should walk into the quarter finals - they were placed in Group A for precisely this reason. And they could still go on to win the Copa. But if an early goal does not come, it could be a nervy 90 minutes on a bumpy pitch in Cordoba. And should Argentina fail to make the quarter finals then Batista's immediate job prospects will be as sunk as the Titanic.

Please leave comments on this piece in the space provided. Send questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

Q) Tim, I hardly ever read any comments about football in Chile. Based on what Argentina and Brazil have done (or haven't) in the Copa America don't you think Chile has a chance? I know Claudio Borghi is no Marcelo Bielsa, but the players are amazing and CAN make the difference, dont you find?
Eric Gamboa

A) They certainly have an exciting team - the only ones in the Copa to score three goals in their first two games. The tournament already owes them a debt! It's also something of an anomaly that they have never won the Copa - Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia all have.

This is probably Chile's finest ever generation, and there is plenty of time ahead for them to achieve things. But I do worry about that defence - I fear that they give away too many soft goals to be real title contenders - but I'd be happy to be proved wrong.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    The Barcelona 4-3-3 system works because of the players like Iniesta and Xavi not Messi. If Argentina do not have players in the same mould then there is no point in trying to replicate Barcelona

  • Comment number 2.

    A pretty disappointing tournament so far, especially from the top guns. If anything, I though Brazil were even worse than Argentina - they're lucky they didn't lose to Peru yesterday. Agree with Tim's main point and comment #1 - tactics need to change, Argentina simply do not have the midfield maestros to pull off a Barcelona. In any event, Messi was far worse than Tevez, Higuain, and Aguero against Colombia. Tevez at least could be seen trying - Messi looked like somebody had eaten his breakfast.

    Colombia seem the most organised team so far - currently leading 2:0 against Bolivia and cruising to the group's top stop. Chile also look good. In general, though, the 07 Copa was much more entertaining.

  • Comment number 3.

    ^ It was Paraguay not Peru, but yes Brazil were shocking yesterday - as someone who doesn't really watch international football alot, it was probably the worst Brazil performance I've ever seen.

  • Comment number 4.

    My mistake, thanks for pointing that out. Agree on Brazil.

  • Comment number 5.

    Great blog as always Tim. Interesting to see the highly regarded teams flailing so undramatically. I did think Brazil seemed slightly on the downturn in South Africa; do you think the pressure of 2014 may already be building in the back of the players' minds if they continue as they have done so far in this tournament?

    I know this isn't really the place to ask, but does anyone know of anywhere online to get extended Copa America highlights? - I'm struggling to catch the matches.

  • Comment number 6.

    Oh, ok.. I found decent highlights on youtube.

  • Comment number 7.

    Tim, its in pretty bad taste to link a sporting event to one which cost the lives of over 1500 people.

  • Comment number 8.

    The 4-3-3 system for Argentina doesnt work because the players arent used to it. Barca have played that system for years now, the players all know their roles and are accustomed to playing that way. You can't just play a system and then hope the players adapt to it!

  • Comment number 9.

    Very easy to play the 'Messi' card, I mean... I think he's not as influential into a side as Ronaldo is.. (face it, he's done it in two countries). I think there's a lot of the Argentine side who need to buck up their ideas however.

    A lot of players will be moving this summer, but there's too much rumours disrupting players. Too many tabloids labelling themselves as fact. For good speculation see; http://wp.me/p1z74j-1j - all 4 are a good read.

    I think Argentina need to go 4-4-1-1. Need more balance and structure.

  • Comment number 10.

    I really dont have much respect for copa america as few teams participate in it and to make it worse,the same teams without qualifiers,
    Argetina should have no reason to fail to qualify for the quaters(only four teams wont)even if I was the coach and the reason I think 4-3-3 isnt working for the albiceleste is the fact that Batista is using barca's formation wrongly. In barca,it isnt all about messi but 3-4 key technical players which argentina obviously lack so the best thing is to move messi to the left of that attack and lavezzi to the centre

  • Comment number 11.

    I think both Brazil & Argentina are suffering from throwing everything on a couple of "press-made" players. I am talking of people like Ganso, Lavezzi, Banega, just to name those. Batista is desperately trying to turn Banega into Xavi & Lavezzi into Pedro,. News flash: They are not! They don't have the quality to be! Adopt a simple variation of the 4-4-2 & watch Argentina turn it on...but I bet u, he will come out again on Mon with the same tactical output!

  • Comment number 12.

    steve smith,a lot of people would argue with you over the efficiency of ronaldo and messi but i really agree with you.Ronaldo would have performed much better even if the formation or his role affects his team mates

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    #1

    Eeeexactly.

  • Comment number 15.

    IMO Messi is without a doubt the greatest trequartista of his generation, at Barca he is allowed to saunter around the field and find space then unleash his energy in bursts to devestating effect. For Argentina he is pretty much expected to win every match single-handedly (much like Rooney for England) and it seems like this burden is affecting his game. At Barca Messi is fortunate to have Xavi and Iniesta (the best MF partnership in world football) supplying him the ammunition and constantly tiring other teams with their stranglehold on the midfield. Is it really a surprise that Banega and an aged Cambiasso can't get the best out of him? If only Veron and Riquelme were 10 years younger... for all the attacking talent they have at their disposal (Higuain, Aguero, Messi, Lavezzi, Tevez) they seem to lack a genuine playmaker to set the tempo and switch up the angles of attack.

    I honestly don't understand how Aguero can be left on the bench for any team.. IMO he's up there with Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney as one of the best attackers in the business. Is there really nobody better (or with greater potential) than Zabaleta in the Argentina squad pool? With the next World Cup in 3 years I'd have thought Argentina would have been looking to the future.. trying to develop a new system with younger players. I'd love to have seen Argentina really go for it and perhaps experimented with a 3-4-3 diamond in midfield.


  • Comment number 16.

    The system was working fine until Tevez was allowed to spoil things, as he did at the WC for Maradona. With Di Maria, Messi and a right-sided attacker, Rojo at left back Argentina were playing very well before this tournament.

    Notice that they've yet to start any games in the Copa with this lineup.

  • Comment number 17.

    I assume then that all the England fans that slate Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard et al as 'rubbish' because their performances for England aren't always as good for country as for club and they can't be 'world class' until they do it for country think the same about Messi?

  • Comment number 18.

    Re the question on Chile. Having watched all the games, they have undoubtedly been the most entertaining side so far. Thier movement is excellent but the lack something at both ends of the pitch to be real contenders I fear. More here http://tikitakatalk.blogspot.com/2011/07/chile-add-style-to-copa-america.html

  • Comment number 19.

    I am at a loss to understand (if you can believe half the stories) why Neymar,Tevez and Aguero are worth so much money. In reality Falcoa and some of the lesser lights are showing these prima donna's up. Neymar in particular is 19 and hardly a world beater and if I was Real Madrid or Chelsea or Barca I would let him develop a bit more before shelling out the stupid money. As for Argentina or Brazil.. they have been left to look very ordinary because of poor selections and underestimating the opposition. In truth they are both lucky they still have a chance.

  • Comment number 20.

    StevieSmith99 wrote:
    Very easy to play the 'Messi' card, I mean... I think he's not as influential into a side as Ronaldo is.. (face it, he's done it in two countries). I think there's a lot of the Argentine side who need to buck up their ideas however.
    --------------------------------------------------------

    Agree with you there. I don't feel Ronaldo gets enough credit when never in his life has he had the kind of support that Messi has had. Yet he's managed to be almost as successful. It's quite apparent now that a Messi without Iniesta and Xavi isn't quite a complete Messi.

    It's quite an interesting situation, Spain are almost Barcelona minus Messi but they're still an impressive team. Yet take Messi's support from him and he has trouble even though the Argentinian side is quite good. It'll be interesting to see what type of combination Sergio Batista pulls out to get the most out of the world's best player.

  • Comment number 21.

    Everyone needs to settle down. Brazil look undercooked as a unit, but four of this team are under twenty two and will be the foundation of the Olympic team.

    Argentina and Uruguay both look like teams exhausted by a long season, whose coaches are picking unrealistic formations. The introduction of Coates and Lodeiro mark a generational change for Uruguay, and it is disappointing that Batista has brought back a fading Cambiasso and Zanetti.

    Argentina's failure to reach the Olympics suggests that the future may be less bright than for a decade. Maradona as a motivator may have been more useful than Batista!

  • Comment number 22.

    I have read your article and while I will agree with you on a number of issues it sad that you used the Titanic reference. As for Argentina football it is in shambles not because of Messi but because of their coaches since recently. In the WC the only thing lacking in Diego’s squad was good defense and to get a midfielder like Pastore and get Aguero a permanent spot.
    Batista came he spoil the formation the style and the new additions I don’t get. Fix the defense.
    As for Messi vs Ronaldo argument it doesn’t even qualify (only if it’s Brazil’s Ronaldo) face it I have never seen Ronaldo play good or excellent for Portugal. He is always a cry baby after the game. And all other completion Messi and Ronaldo has competed in only one Ronaldo ever won. Think about it…

  • Comment number 23.

    Tim, Argentina undoubtedly have world class talent, however do you think there is such a thing as too much talent? Argentina are blessed with forwards such as Messi, Tevez, Higuain, Aguero, Milito and Lavezzi, but are Argentina's problems down to these players... poor formations and tactics the result of trying to accommodate as many of them as possible into the starting 11?
    David

  • Comment number 24.

    @Selecao.

    I believe that is because Spain also replicate similar football to Barcelona, not as fluid as Barcelona but possesion orientated, in reality, Iniesta/Busquets/Xavi's role all rarely ever change from Club to International level role wise. Messi goes into a team that can't play the same way, he's been ingrained into a system, it such a unique possesion style and so dominating that I think changing isn't easy. Learning how to dominate the ball every game 60-70% possesion is almost unheard off. Another problem is, Argentina try and replicate it and they simply don't have the players. It seems they tell Messi to simply do the same but it isn't that easy. Firstly, he needs the service, you can't be a great player without the service and that also applies to Xavi, luckily plays in two teams that dominate the ball so heavily and look for the ball. Xavi is the best central midfielder in the world but there is no way he'd be so effective if he was put into a team that wasn't possesion oriented or didn't have the players to do it. For Spain and Barcelona, it's easy to adapt because it's very similar. It's his game. It's Iniesta's game.

    Messi for Barcelona drifts around the pitch, picks up the ball, plays it short very regularly, looks for another one and picks and chosses the right moments to suddenly burst, creating a chance for himself or others. I watch every Barca game and I always find myself screaming at the TV thinking "just turn and dribble" because I want to see him go past players for fun but in reality, it's not that simple and for Barcelona, he is allowed to get the ball on so many occasions and pick up the ball in great areas there is always good moments to do what he's shown he can do. For Argentina, It's very different. He has to drop deeper and deeper to get the ball, the other players aren't really on the same wavelength. When they give him the ball, you can see players behind him or in deeper positions almost stand still and expect him to turn, dribble and create. It's as if they give him the ball and let him get on with it. That's not how he plays, he keeps the ball just like the others in Barca, requires movement from all the players regularly, keeping the ball and then Messi bursts to life at the right time. For Argentina, he's almost forced to burst to life ALL the time. It doesn't work. Barcelona attack and defend as a team, also crucial. Argentina look like 'parts' ....when the ball goes to Messi, suddenly it's the front 3 vs the opposition and very little else. There is no system to the play, no structure.

    Messi is also great because he's not the person who's the key in the Barcelona team, Xavi is the engine, Messi is just the special player. Barcelona get Xavi on the ball and Xavi looks to pick the right option, not just Messi. Argentina always seem to look for Messi. He starts picking the ball up in positions you don't need him in and again then the problem, the players still seem to expect him to it there and then. Give him the ball on the half way line, let him create...etc..etc....all the same.

    The thing what is frustrating is that they have so many talented players on display that they don't need to constantly go to Messi and that would help Argentina and Messi. Use other players and suddenly the game opens up. Teams in La Liga can't man mark Messi because other players will hurt them, Barcelona don't revolve around Messi, nor should Argentina. One player doesn't make a team, even if that player is the best in the world. Suddenly you start bringing more players into the game regularly, start attacking with a strategy, with fluidity, as a team, then only naturally space will open up for the likes of Messi to then get on the ball in good areas. You could even argue in Tevez/Di Maria/Aguero etc...they have better 1 on 1 players than Barcelona that can do more damage.

    In my opinion, Argentina should just revert to a 4-2-3-1 with Messi as the playmaker. I'd love to see Argentina replicate Barcelona but It's simply years of work, you also need brilliant midfielder, something Argentina isn't blessed with. Argentina could be great though. I'd suggest Pastore and Mascherano in central midfield, Messi in front, Higuain up top and Tevez/Aguero with Di Maria on the flanks. They won't dominate possesion like Barcelona but it shouldn't be about Barca but Argentina's system, they can keep the ball, work hard as a unit but be more direct in their attacking play. Suddenly Messi dropping deeper doesn't matter as much as there will be plenty options in front of him but also players with ability alongside or behind him in Mascherano who understand Messi more than most now he has played at Argentina and Pastore, again simply who has the ability to go forward, create as well, supply Messi and co.

    my opinion anyway :)

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm somewhat mystified why any team, other than Barcelona, having the services of Messi on their team, wouldn't make him the focal point of their play.

    We've seen in the past, even for Barcelona, how Messi goes missing when not involved, so why not send everything through him. Your opponents are sure to put two men on him and that leaves space for others.

    I still believe that both Brazil and Argentina will both get it right eventually, but has anyone thought that maybe, some of the European-based players on these teams would prefer to be somewhere other than in Copa America right now ?

    http://www.soccerlimeyinamerica.com

  • Comment number 26.

    Argentina could, of course, just re-use their 2008 Olympic set-up, with Pastore a straight swap for Riquelme in midfield.

    Aguero as the centre-forward, Messi playing deep behind him, Pastore as playmaker, Di Maria left midfielder and Gago and Mascherano as defensive midfielders, with Zabaleta as right-wing back. It's lopsided, but it worked in Beijing against very strong Brazil and Nigeria teams - stronger than any opposition at this Copa America!

  • Comment number 27.

    Tim, any chance of you getting on Twitter?

  • Comment number 28.

    I read the article and all the comments. Seems like one cannot mention Messi without mentioning Barcelona.

    Bottom line: Messi cannot play for Argentina, without having Xavi and Iniesta. What Argentinians are saying is that Messi can only play for Barca. Take him out and he's neutralized, invisible. The great striker who never scored a goal for his own country.

    When Pele played for the Brazilian team nobody mentioned Santos FC. He could play anywhere, anytime. Take that.

  • Comment number 29.

    Looks like Batista has read your blog Tim and post #26, since he's gonna play with Higuain up top and seven starters in total from the Olympic final in Beijing.

    All the same, I'm not sure Batista has the pefdigree and the players have the team mentality to go very far in the tournament. The defence is very average and a lot of the better players (they're not all as world class as some would have us believe) are not playing as well as they can...

  • Comment number 30.

    Mr. Vickery, good article. I hope you're feeling better. You sounded lousy on WFD last week. I follow Chile, and think they're playing well but as you say they are vulnerable on defense and they need to improve their finishing. The Uruguay game should have ended up something like 5-4 in our favor. As far as Argentina and Brazil are concerned, we all know the talent is abundant, however, they are not playing as a cohesive unit yet and that is in large part what this tournament affords each coach. The real prize begins in three summer's time. They'll sort themselves out, hopefully not before La Roja get there. Hoping you feel better and looking forward to your next article/conversation on the BBC/WFD. Chao.

  • Comment number 31.

    Why has the BBC, Tim Vickery aside, chosen to ignore the Copa America?

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Personally I feel the biggest flaw in the plan to copy Barcelona's style of play is the difference in full-backs. Abidal/Maxwell and Alves give Barca almost all their width so that Pedro and Villa can play as inside forwards but the defence is still stretched. Against Colombia, not only on the left where as Tim points out there were two right-footed players but also with Lavezzi on the right there was very little width, Zabaleta got to the by-line once in the first-half but that was it. I raise the point in more detail here http://tikitakatalk.blogspot.com/2011/07/no-width-and-no-wins-for-argentina-on.html but with no attacking full-backs to count on the burden will probably have to fall on Di Maria to provide some much needed width.

  • Comment number 34.

    #12
    At the risk of sounding like a Ronaldophobic, Messi is more of a team player and operates as well (or as badly) as the team. Ronaldo on the other hand is the 'prima donna' and would struggle just as much as messi in a struggling team. How well does the Portuguese national team play? Maybe that will be answered on another day.

  • Comment number 35.

    garygi wrote:As for Messi vs Ronaldo
    argument it doesn’t even
    qualify (only if it’s Brazil’s
    Ronaldo) face it I have never
    seen Ronaldo play good or
    excellent for Portugal. He is
    always a cry baby after the
    game. And all other
    completion Messi and Ronaldo
    has competed in only one
    Ronaldo ever won. Think
    about it…
    That is exactly the point.Do you think Messi would have won more than one if it was CR7 who plays for Barca?Ronaldo can single handedly lift a team irrespective of the formation.Messi cant

  • Comment number 36.

    holy- 'epically tldr essay' joeman!

    @makelele6

    I totally agree, they do not have that source of creativity in midfield. Cambiasso, Benega and Mascherano are predominantly defensive. I want a start for Pastore and then we can see if he's worth the £50ish mill his club think he demands.

  • Comment number 37.

    Red lion
    The portuguese national team has one 80mil pounds player and other average players but would not struggle in a copa america group with costa and bolivia(falcao has given colombia some prestige).It's like you don't know that portugal(since ronaldo joined the team)like germany ,have perfomed above expectations in major tournaments since 2006

  • Comment number 38.

    Some of you need to get over yourselves; the Titanic sank 99 years ago. So I doubt any of you were directly involved! And, in any case, where's the harm in making a jokey reference to it? Like I said, get over yourselves.



  • Comment number 39.

    Pele - Brazil & Santos - amazing.
    Maradona - Single handly got Argentina to 2 WC finals winning one of them.
    Messi - Barcelona (appears to be the best player in the world) Argentina (rubbish).

    It is quite simple really - at Barcelona he has Iniesta & Xavi, not to mention the rest of the team, helping him and making him the star player of the best team in the world. People must remember as well that the Sapnish league is a joke - Real Madrid & Barca are always miles clear of everyone else as they have the two best teams in club football and the rest of the league is so much in debt they do not have anywhere near the same quality of players. This league helps messi look better than he actually is because of the poor oppositon.

    This is not his fault - you can only play against the oppostion you are given, but when he play for Argentina is looks like an average PL player to me. Do not get me wrong - he is a extrmely talented footballer, but the best ever that has been discussed over the last 6 months - no chance !!! It is the same as saying Rooney is world class - no chance !!!

    Pele & Maradona are still the 2 by along way for me. At the moment, Messi for me is not as good as Ronaldo and I am a Barca fan.

    Brazil or Argentina will not win the Copa Amercia, if I was going to put money on it I would put it on Uruguary.

  • Comment number 40.

    Good Argentina's lacklustre performances actually be down to something as simple as fatigue? Messi has not had a break for years and has just come off the back of a long (and very succesfull) season. Tevez was injured near the end of last season and has personal/transfer issues. There are a lot of European based players in the Argentinian line-up and maybe that is part of the problem?

    I would like to see Pastore in the Argentinian line-up. With regards to Fred (despite his last gasp equaliser the other day) I think his ship has sailed and Brazil need to look to the future. I would echo the comments of those who say that Brazil and Argentina will both still qualify. One thing that has been proved is the competiveness of teams such as Columbia, Chile etc.

    I suspect that little can be concluded with regards to 2014. Both Brazil and Argentina are (rightly) treating the Copa America as very important in its own right (Hence the inclusions of Zanetti, Cambiasso and Fred). I also strongly suspect that both nations will be under different management by the time that the 2014 World Cup begins.

  • Comment number 41.

    Complain about this comment (Comment number 38)
    Comment number 39.At 09:17 11th Jul 2011, David Rolls wrote:
    Pele - Brazil & Santos - amazing.
    Maradona - Single handly got Argentina to 2 WC finals winning one of them.
    Messi - Barcelona (appears to be the best player in the world) Argentina (rubbish).

    It is quite simple really - at Barcelona he has Iniesta & Xavi, not to mention the rest of the team, helping him and making him the star player of the best team in the world. People must remember as well that the Sapnish league is a joke - Real Madrid & Barca are always miles clear of everyone else as they have the two best teams in club football and the rest of the league is so much in debt they do not have anywhere near the same quality of players. This league helps messi look better than he actually is because of the poor oppositon.

    This is not his fault - you can only play against the oppostion you are given, but when he play for Argentina is looks like an average PL player to me. Do not get me wrong - he is a extrmely talented footballer, but the best ever that has been discussed over the last 6 months - no chance !!! It is the same as saying Rooney is world class - no chance !!!

    Pele & Maradona are still the 2 by along way for me. At the moment, Messi for me is not as good as Ronaldo and I am a Barca fan.

    Brazil or Argentina will not win the Copa Amercia, if I was going to put money on it I would put it on Uruguary.
    --------------------------------------------------
    I think you are been very unfair here.

    Please don't forget that Pele (great player that he was) played for (perhaps) the greatest international team ever. Maradona (greatest player the world has ever seen) did not single handedly win anything! Football is a team game! Maradona (read his autobiography)is always the first to heap praises on his teamates.

    The Spanish league is not a joke. It is not the rest of the leagues fault that Barcelona and Real Madrid are currently the two best teams on the planet. English league for the last 6 years has been dominated by Man Utd and Chelsea. Serie A hasn't left Milan in roughly the same period! To say the spannish league helps Messi look better than he is, is to ignore Messi's record in the Champions League and in El Clasico for the last 3 seasons!

    Rooney not world class. I agree with this of course he isn't! But please remember England needs to overhype its players to try and ignore the truth that the league is completely dominated by money, that

  • Comment number 42.

    Complain about this comment (Comment number 38)
    Comment number 39.At 09:17 11th Jul 2011, David Rolls wrote:
    Pele - Brazil & Santos - amazing.
    Maradona - Single handly got Argentina to 2 WC finals winning one of them.
    Messi - Barcelona (appears to be the best player in the world) Argentina (rubbish).

    It is quite simple really - at Barcelona he has Iniesta & Xavi, not to mention the rest of the team, helping him and making him the star player of the best team in the world. People must remember as well that the Sapnish league is a joke - Real Madrid & Barca are always miles clear of everyone else as they have the two best teams in club football and the rest of the league is so much in debt they do not have anywhere near the same quality of players. This league helps messi look better than he actually is because of the poor oppositon.

    This is not his fault - you can only play against the oppostion you are given, but when he play for Argentina is looks like an average PL player to me. Do not get me wrong - he is a extrmely talented footballer, but the best ever that has been discussed over the last 6 months - no chance !!! It is the same as saying Rooney is world class - no chance !!!

    Pele & Maradona are still the 2 by along way for me. At the moment, Messi for me is not as good as Ronaldo and I am a Barca fan.

    Brazil or Argentina will not win the Copa Amercia, if I was going to put money on it I would put it on Uruguary.
    --------------------------------------------------
    I think you are been very unfair here.

    Please don't forget that Pele (great player that he was) played for (perhaps) the greatest international team ever. Maradona (greatest player the world has ever seen) did not single handedly win anything! Football is a team game! Maradona (read his autobiography)is always the first to heap praises on his teamates.

    The Spanish league is not a joke. It is not the rest of the leagues fault that Barcelona and Real Madrid are currently the two best teams on the planet. English league for the last 6 years has been dominated by Man Utd and Chelsea. Serie A hasn't left Milan in roughly the same period! To say the spannish league helps Messi look better than he is, is to ignore Messi's record in the Champions League and in El Clasico for the last 3 seasons!

    Rooney not world class. I agree with this of course he isn't! But please remember England needs to overhype its players to try and ignore the truth that the league is completely dominated by money,%

  • Comment number 43.

    Brazil have been beyond poor by their high standards.

  • Comment number 44.

    I maintain that Messi is a very, very good player but not a great one. The midfield at Barcelona make him look better than he is and are a key part of his performances. Playing for Argentina he looks a lot more human and ordinary. Yes he has scored some great solo goals for Barcelona but plenty of players have done the same for their clubs too and we don't label them as great.

  • Comment number 45.

    I don't understand the mentality of those who critiscise Messi.

    A player who is supremely talented. A player who was MOM in the last Champions League final. A player who has broken all sorts of records. A player who has scored in his last 2 Champions League finals. Champions League top scorer in last 2/3 seasons. Multiple winner of World player of the year. A humble, polite individual who plays with a smile on his face.

    A 24 YEAR OLD!

    You can't compare him with the greatest ever (Maradona) because this is unfair. Messi is only 24 and has many years ahead of him! To compare him with Maradona is disrespectful as you can't compare fairly until Messi retires. Even then comparing different generations is always difficult.

    Why can't people just enjoy and appreciate the fact that we are watching the Worlds best current player and enjoy the magical performances that he produces.

    Lets just hope that 2014 is his tournament in much the same way that 1986 was Maradona's.

  • Comment number 46.

    If this was the world cup, we'd expect Brazil and Argentina to struggle through to the later stages in spite of their form, just by the big match experience they have. Fortunately, the history of the Copa America (last two aside) show a more democratic distribution of titles around the continent.

    It really depends on Uruguay and Chile, and maybe Colombia, to be ruthless when they're on top of the big two in the later stages. Both Paraguay and Chile failed in this at the World Cup, both outplaying Spain and Brazil respectively but not taking all their chances in front of goal. And it sounds like Paraguay should have beaten Brazil the other night. Uruguay are now the team in danger in Group C, but if Peru can beat the junior Mexico team, hopefully Uruguay can too and kickstart their form at the right time.

    I think Argentina should be playing at least one if not two of Aguero, Tevez, Pastore and Di Maria with Messi. Play to all their strengths, rather than imposing a system that is only recognisable to one of them. If they were liberated from trying to understand the Barca system, they would might all reconnect in attack and most likely score enough goals to offset their terrible defence. I think they're just too confused in their roles and it is stifling their natural game.

  • Comment number 47.

    Tim, aren't the hosts always given an easy group in any tournament? You made it sound though like they didn't even draw the teams in a ballot, is that the case? For 10 teams (plus the two invitees), it doesn't sound necessary to have continental rankings and seeding pots, so how do they do it?

  • Comment number 48.

    The two favourites have performed way below par,my opinion is that its probably hte influence of european football,what with it being so popular all over the world and south american teams effectively acting as feeders to these big european giants,i mean you dont see stuff like joga bonito anymore,any takers?
    Apart from that,is it just me or has everyone noticed that Freddy Guarin of Colombia seems to be an amazing player,very athletic,good passer and only 20(i think)how come no one has mentioned him?

  • Comment number 49.

    Freddy Guarin who plays for porto? He is 24, but a solid and talented midfielder. Combines well at club level with Moutinho - maybe Chelsea can buy him for £30m if he plays well for a couple of more games :)

    As a chelsea fan myself, please please please can we buy M'Vila !!! Essien has proven once and for all he is just as injury prone as Owen Hargreaves. Go to Real Madrid and buy Ramos, Albiol, Ozil, Higuain & Benzema and give them drogba, torres, lampard and some cash !!!

  • Comment number 50.

    Tim after a great world cup uruguay have been another team to struggle at the Copa. I fancied them as an outside bet to win the Cope this year, but do you think their form from South Africa has completely deserted them and the World Cup in 2010 was just a one off from them?

  • Comment number 51.

    I am a true Brazilian fan but I cant agree with the style they played against Paraguay. In that match,Brazil was very very low..Their defense was some what good except D Alves.I think his mind was for Barca not for Brazil.It was his mistake that caused the second goal for Paraguay.How many chances or cross he made or created for the team? Also lot of mispasses ...What happened to Brazil team???No creativity or flow in the play. How a player like Patto can miss a golden oppertunity? is he a world top finisher? I dond think so. can we compare with legend Ronaldo??(Ex Brazil hero).L Fabiano was better than Patto..Then new hero Neymar also missed a good chance..Is he worth 40 million for chelsea or R Madrid?? Never...He is only an ordinary player not a tricky one.

  • Comment number 52.

    Tim, you've actually focussed too much on our lack of a target man aspect.

    Do Barcelona play with two Busquets? No. But that's what we are doing. Mascherano and Cambiasso are pretty much, on balance, just that. The pair of them together is simply too defensive. Both of them just want to sit and not venture forward, whereas if we replaced one of them with Pastore (obviously the Non-Mascherano one), we might have a bit more success.

    You highlighted the Full-Back problems well, but in truth we haven't had a quality reliable left sided one since the likes of Sorin and Arruabarrena, the latter whom, rather comically, was hardly used anyway.

    But the most glaring error of all for me has been the choice of Central Defenders. On the surface, being that we've only conceded one goal so far, not the most pressing issue, people might think (Fact is without Sergio Romero we'd have lost both games.)

    But we look so scared at the back, short of confidence and belief, our full-backs are too scared to contribute to the attack. If we choose to select someone like Gabriel Milito who never has, nor ever will, merit inclusion, then it can hardly be a surprise. I am yet to see a worst centre back play in our shirt, and to put so much faith in someone that played so little this season was always a disaster waiting to happen. Nicolas Otamendi is the future of our defence and had a stunning season with Porto; he not making the squad shows the general incompetence in the whole party.

    We won't win the Copa, and Batista has to go. He has not got the ability to execute, nor the know-how of selection, to take us to glory in anything.

  • Comment number 53.

    Xavi, Iniesta, busquets, alves and Pedro.

    That is all.

  • Comment number 54.

    Higuain, Aguero, Tevez, Messi, Di Maria, Pastore. There shouldnt be a problem with attacking flair looking at this talent

  • Comment number 55.

    Hopefully the BBC pays more attention to the Copa now that England's women's team is out of that sham of a tournament. Back to real business.

    Women's football should have been put in a different part of the website - it's not even a real sport.

    Disliking that the copa is on past my bedtime but loving watching the highlights and reading about it!

  • Comment number 56.

    Tim,
    Why are the BBC ignoring this tournament? Unless I'm being more dim than usual I can find no results, group tables etc on the sport webpage. Your input is all there is. When you compare this to the coverage African football gets its a bit odd.

  • Comment number 57.

    It's easy to see why Messi doesn't perform to the same standard as he does for Barcelona. Barca play as team and they all work for each other and it's not about individuals.

    Argentina don't play as a team.

    Argentina are very much like England, some genuine world class players but fail to gel as a team. The reason being both sides pick their 11 best players rather than the best player for each position.

    Neither team has any balance or cohesion and it's all about trying to get all the best players on the pitch at once.

  • Comment number 58.

    Phill why on earth Hernanes can't get anywhere near the brazil squad? He had a fantastic season at lazio, is the standard of the brazillian squad really that high?

  • Comment number 59.

    This summer the copa is the only event where you have a chance to watch great football. so it's a shame that this event doesn't receive the recognition it has earned. for those who speak german, there are always some interesting news
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 60.

    Complain about this comment (Comment number 54)
    Comment number 55.At 12:24 11th Jul 2011, Joan_Burton wrote:
    Hopefully the BBC pays more attention to the Copa now that England's women's team is out of that sham of a tournament. Back to real business.

    Women's football should have been put in a different part of the website - it's not even a real sport.

    Disliking that the copa is on past my bedtime but loving watching the highlights and reading about it!
    ----------------------------
    Good point. Why the BBC has been highlighting the Women's World Cup (which is not even local Sunday League standard) at the expense of the Copa America is beyond me. Unfortunately yet another example of political correctness and equality gone mad. But I should stop there or else I will be ranting about Wimbledon the Olympics and other events where we are subjected to coverage of sub-standard events purely because of the gender of the competitors.

    Thanks must go to Tim Vickery for covering the Copa and once again been head and shoulders above his peers.

  • Comment number 61.

    I don't understand how can Batista use the CB pairing of Burdisso and "Calamity" Milito? It's an accident waiting to happen.. well actually it did happen many times, but the forwards who were gifted with passes in the Bolivia and Colombia game weren't competent enough to score in a 1v1 with Romero.

    I think its a no brainer to use Mascherano as a CB, and just use a plain 4-2-3-1. With left footed players on the left, right footed players on the right, a solid striker in the box and Messi behind him.. It's pretty crystal clear to me. My team would be : Romero, Rojo, Mascherano, Burdisso, Zanetti. Cambiasso, Banega. Di Maria, Messi, Lavezzi. Higuain (Aguero). Di Maria and Lavezzi should play since they are tracker-backers and play in a more midfielder role, giving more balance and width to the team.

  • Comment number 62.

    Gosh how ordinary and bad were Brazil against Paraguay? Though i am a Brazil fan, i wanted them to lose against Paraguay in order for the CBF to wake up. Brazil were shoddy, laboured and dis-interested in the match. They need to change the management. Mano Menezes is out of his depth at this level. He is choosing the wrong players. Alves, Neymar, Ganso and Santos need to be dropped. Where are Kaka, Hulk, Fabiano, Juan and Maicon? They need urgency, hunger and fight in the team. If anything, the Brazilians have gone backwards under Menezes. Bring back Dunga or even Ramalho i say. Under Dunga they have never played this badly. What do you think Tim?

  • Comment number 63.

    In regard to Ronaldo. I think those saying he effectively can lift a team by himself forget two things: 1) Rooney, Tevez, Giggs, Scholes etc created a lot of space for Ronaldo to do the business. Ronaldo was the main man, but without them would he and Man Utd have been so successful during his time there. And 2) If Ronaldo can lift a team to the next level on his own, why has Portugal (and Ronaldo himself) struggled at international level in recent years? Remember Ronaldo scored 1 solitary goal at the last world cup in a 7-0 battering of minnows North Korea (and he nearly nade a mess of that one).

    I think the pro-Ronaldo camp are overplaying their hand here. When the fact is that Ronaldo is also failing at international level.

  • Comment number 64.

    @JogoBonito: you are insane if you think the problem with Brazil is the players selected. Alves, Neymar and Ganso must be dropped? Thats nonsense. Ganso was one of the best players last saturday, EVEN if he did not play everything he can. And Neymar sucked its true, but he has done well in other matches (USA and Scotland for example).

    I think the problem here is the SAME as with Argentina. Mano is trying to create a joga bonito Brazil team somewhat replicating what Spain has done. That will simply be impossible.


    You are right about Alves however. He is TERRIBLE at the national team. Which is somewhat ironic, that Messi and Alves SUCK outside of Barcelona. So, after one more Argentina and Brazil game, we come again to the same point I made in the past two blogs: Messi is NOT one of the best players ever. In fact, no Barcelona player is THAT good. Barcelona is an incredibly well oiled machine, where average players look like they are awesome and good players look like they are godlike.

    Take those players out of Barcelona, and they masks fall out. The godlike Messi becomes a good player. The awesome Daniel Alves becomes an average player.

    And the spanish national team? Well... they play like Barcelona, with a squad that has a majority of Barcelona players. Well, that makes sense.

  • Comment number 65.

    62.At 12:48 11th Jul 2011, Jogo_Bonito wrote:

    You r right...
    It is true Brazil (some members) were not interested in that match or even in copa America2011.D alves,Patto,Neymer not deserves the starting 11 of Brazil Team. Bring back LF Scholary.Current style will not suite for Brazil.

  • Comment number 66.

    Tim,

    What I like about your analysis is that it stands relatively independent from the fierce warring of the various opposing trends within current footballing ideology. For evidence of the conflicting dogmas of which I speak, look no further than the preceding comments.

    Of course your views do not stand outside of a particular social context, but I guess writing from your base in Brazil for a predominantly British audience does offer you a healthily distanced perspective, while at the same time granting you a sufficient authority regarding the subjects on which you write, so that people do (albeit to varying degrees) take notice.

    I myself am a serious Liverpool supporter, and so I am as partizan as the next person, and yet what I've been coming to understand is that as much as I'd like to think I do, I don't know what the future holds for my club or football in general. We're all just observing real phenomena, and then twisting them to fit our individually tailored ideologies; and of course, this process happens both ways.

    Anyway, I'm sorry, this post is clearly in some senses unsuited to the form of an online comment on your blog– but if you read it, I'm sure it will at least make for a (welcome?) change from the drudgery of the majority of comments. (And yes, majority, I am aware of how pretentious this post reads.)

  • Comment number 67.

    It is ridiculous how the BBC are ignoring the Copa America and instead the large coverage the women’s world cup is getting.

    For those English speakers, I suggest Foxsports.com/soccer. Apart from the word soccer, it is a great place to get all your football info, stats, etc. In a normal season it also has very detailed stats, info from European leagues that you wouldn’t get on the BBC.

    Dont know how they pay Tim, ie one article a week/fortnight. But it would have made sense to have had Tim do a post match article everyday.

  • Comment number 68.

    #67

    Totally agree.

    Strikes me as political correctness gone mad.

    1. Huge coverage of women's World Cup... Are the BBC afraid of appearing sexist?

    2. Huge coverage of the African Nations Cup... Are the BBC afraid of appearing racist?

    Or is it more sinister and the BBC only covers events they have tv rights for now?

    The BBC is a public service.

    This website should provide people with coverage of relevant football events.

    The Copa is a hugely relevant event. The women's world cup is comparable to a school sports day for eight year olds. It's nice to have but really nobody cares.

  • Comment number 69.

    Messi is a brilliant player but he can't single handedly deliver result for Argentina, rather he needs supports and good game plan to deliver. Batista has no confidence in his ability thats why he is deploying Barca plan for his team, on paper they have the best collections of attacking players yet Batista is struggling to gel them together.

  • Comment number 70.

    Bastista should start to think on his own tactics. The players from Argentina have different profiles and coming from other sistems then tiki-taka. Higuain likes to score, Tevez also, Aguero can be a good playmaker like Messi. You can learn something from Barcelona style, but you can't do it the same. You think different then Guardiola.
    Sincerly,

  • Comment number 71.

    This Brazilian team does not deserve to be in the quarter finals, they are not business-like. All the players are marketing themselves at the expense of the team, players like Neymar, Ganso, Robinho who are not suppose to be in the team yet are now commanding regular starting positiuon. Why is Menezes keeping Elano and Fred on the bench?

  • Comment number 72.

    Re. 64. I take the point that anyone playing for Barcelona looks better than they actually are, as it's a well oiled machine. That said, Villa looked the business before and during his time at Camp Nou, but he still almost pales in comparison to Xavi, Iniesta and Messi. I believe that there are four or five players at Barca who could move to any other club and be the best player there, but they are made to look even greater by playing in an even better team.

    It's difficult to imagine Spain with Messi, but if you could replace Torres with him, everyone else might as well not bother showing up for international games. Similarly, if Argentina had Xavi and Iniesta they would walk the Copa.

    It's annoying that people to play Messi down. If we look at Pele's career (sacrelidge but...) he played for one team his whole career, New York Cosmos aside, and never tested himself in Europe. 1000 goals is all very well but they were against teams nobody has ever heard of. He also had the benefit of playing with a very good international side in 58 ( who won the next WC without him just as easily as they did with him ) and a 1970 side containing some of the greatest players ever. No player is above criticism, but Messi is a truly great player who is trying to carry a disjointed collection of prima donnas and troublemakers (that's you Mr Tevez) through a tournament. He's not meant to be compared with Pele and Maradona, he's his own man and we should appreciate the joy he gives us, like the look in Ferdinand's face after the 2nd goal in the CL final.....

  • Comment number 73.

    roman, very true on the marketing part, aside from Robinho who has never been good enough.

    Now, Fred and Elano will never give Brazil the edge against others. In fact, consider where they play and wonder if they are ready to face tough defenses/more physical game.

    Pato isn't playing well, but he is a top club consistent (barring injuries) performer. Some complain about Ramires, but he is also one of the top club players we've got there.

    Brazil have some good players, some players with great potential (perhaps), but Brazil are not a team. Some is Meneses' fault, but most is IMO the lack of talent, talent of the competitive kind.

  • Comment number 74.

    so glad mr Vickery is talking about my boys Higuain and Di Maria(Madrid Fan). It seems to me Madrid players are being overlooked in the two powerhouses(Marcelo at Brazil). Don't understand why, besides the fact that higuin was injured during an important part of the season, which could also be a good thing as he is fresher. 4-2-3-1, the formation of the future IMHO.

  • Comment number 75.

    The Copa is a hugely relevant event. The women's world cup is comparable to a school sports day for eight year olds. It's nice to have but really nobody cares
    -----------------------------

    Un PC but very funny and 100% spot on.

    Comment of the month already

  • Comment number 76.

    Having watched every CopaAmerica match so far, the Bolivia-Costa Rica and the Chile-Uruguay matches were the best so far. Argentina's matches were so downright boring and Brazil's only a little better. Both these teams don't deserve to go through to the quarters. My belief is that Chile, Paraguay or Colombia will win the Copa America as they are playing the best football. Argentina's biggest mistake is copying Barca. Their players are not suited to this style and Tim's method seems the best approach. Brazil too has a similar problem and I don't see the point in having Robinho in the team. The balance in World Football has indeed shifted towards teams like Spain, Germany and Holland. England, Italy, France, Brazil, Argentina are starting to fall behind with the emergence of Uruguay, Paraguay,Chile, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Australia, USA, Croatia etc.

  • Comment number 77.

    thats why my thought has always been that mr. messi will never be as good as diego maradona despite comparision to him many a times because of his dependance on a working combination of midfielders to do his thing like he does at barca,messi should work on his game at the national team and show he is worthy for argentina as he is for barca, otherwise we shall always know him as a barca great.

  • Comment number 78.

    @Aceshigh wake up and realise that Neymar is a teenager, he looks weak and falls over under challenges from larger defenders and midfielders. Keep him for the U-20 World Cup. He is over-rated. So is Ganso. By the way USA and Scotland are hardly great teams. They may shine in their own age group. Chelsea, Real Barca should think twice before paying crazy money for him.
    Why does Mano not choose Maicon? Mano's playing style is all confused. He does not have the players to play joga bonito. Bring back Kaka and they need a couple of good consistent strikers. Good analysis by RichAbey @ 76

  • Comment number 79.

    As a number of times I have seen readers make queries or comments unrelated to your blog, I want to do likewise to see if you could find out (FIFA?) whether Uruguay really has more expatriate footballers than either Brasil or Argentina.
    A friend commented that UY had some 1500 while BR and AR were in the 1200s. Even if the numbers are wrong, 1500 in a population of 3 million means that 1 of every 2000 urus is playing abroad, rather crazy. In the male 20/35 bracket the numbers near the .3% of the population ! Not too bad, and that points to some answers on the results.

  • Comment number 80.

    Magicdarkshow wrote
    In regard to Ronaldo. I think
    those saying he effectively
    can lift a team by himself
    forget two things: 1) Rooney,
    Tevez, Giggs, Scholes etc
    created a lot of space for
    Ronaldo to do the business.
    Ronaldo was the main man,
    but without them would he
    and Man Utd have been so
    successful during his time
    there. And 2) If Ronaldo can
    lift a team to the next level on
    his own, why has Portugal
    (and Ronaldo himself)
    struggled at international level
    in recent years? Remember
    Ronaldo scored 1 solitary goal
    at the last world cup in a 7-0
    battering of minnows North
    Korea (and he nearly nade a
    mess of that one).
    I think the pro-Ronaldo camp
    are overplaying their hand
    here. When the fact is that
    Ronaldo is also failing at
    international level.
    You need to watch a few clips of Ronaldo at manutd,he creates space for his team mates and not the other way round and now does the same at madrid.You have forgotten that Ronaldo can score from the centre circle and hit the bar with a thunderous shot against ivory coast in the world cup.Portugal have neva been favourites in any competition but still manage to challenge the so called favourites

  • Comment number 81.

    @Jogo Bonito: and still, Ganso played better than many brazilian players were are already respected in Europe. So how the hell can you simply say Ganso is overrated?

    I will tell you who is overated: Messi and Daniel Alves.

  • Comment number 82.

    At 08:24 11th Jul 2011, ozoneomoogun wrote:
    In Response to your comment; would you say the great Manchester United team of 09 did not provide support for Ronaldo and are you suggesting that this Real Madrid team doesn’t provide a support to Ronaldo?
    I think Messi answered this question for us many time: CL semi a game void of quality Messi last goal did not came from the brilliance of his team mates, Argentina earlier this year defeated Portugal 4:1.
    Pele and Diego are the untouchable of football. However, has Messi score for Argentina yes. 17 times, can Messi play better for Argentina? Sure he can. Then the real question is what is stopping him.
    Let’s look at his performance for country so far, Messi is trained at La Masia and they have instilled team work in him from a very tender age, he left Argentina at age 13 spent most of his life in Spain. The attitude at Barca is so different than that of Argentina at Barca you play for each other. They are no star no player look for individual brilliance to get a contract, in Argentina 11 there are all stars and a lot of selfish play and that’s hard to adjust to plus all the bickering for someone with a shy reserve personality that’s challenging.
    So I think Messi should do what Diego Maradona said know that you are a star and when playing for Argentina take charge be more selfish with the and do something exceptional we all know he’s capable of and win over critic, team mates and fans alike. As Maradona said in defense of Messi; it was the same for him in 1986 and the same folks who criticize you will also praise you. I know Messi will shine, let’s talk more after the dream final at Copa…

  • Comment number 83.

    Great blog once again.

    I don't understand why he is trying to copy Barca. Argentina have, arguably, the best forwards in the game to choose from. He should instead simply overwhelm the other team with attacking talent. I agree that a 3-4-3 is the way to go, as South American teams aren't known for their great defences. Also, how Di Maria is left on the bench is beyond me, he is fantastic at Madrid.

  • Comment number 84.

    this particilar copa america has been quite unusual and amazing at the same time, it is important to understand that south america is more than brazil and argentina, and there are many good players in the whole continent, that maybe are not well known in europe, but are much better players than many over there, amazing what venezuela has done, a team that always was the looser of the tournament and was capable of holding almighty Brazil, and like them many other national teams like chile, paraguay and colombia, which are showing to the world the top class football they play, definitely this copa will be very exciting and full of surprises, of course for the traditional viewers, but in my opinion I like the way things are so far, it is good to see new teams and players doing their best, rather than watching the same traditional teams.
    PS. let's remember that copa america is the oldest football tournament in the world.

  • Comment number 85.

    Even robot football is getting more coverage on the BBC than the Copa.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14105078

  • Comment number 86.

    These Internationals provide English people a good opportunity to criticise Messi . Also , they get a chance to argue about how Messi is over rated and won't be able to do well in EPL and that Rooney isn't too far behind him . LOL . Don't fool yourselves . Rooney is a good EPL player thats all . Whereas Messi is surely one the best of all time . Its just a matter of whether he can become the best player of all time . Coming from an ardent Real Madrid fan ( No, I don't rate Ronaldo as equal of Messi )

  • Comment number 87.

    People should really stop over hyping Messi, Ronaldo outperforms him when playing for Portugal and he is playing a higher level of international football because he's in Europe where as South America is not that great apart from a couple of teams.

    Messi's international performance prove that he is not that spectacular without Xavi and Iniesta and really it is they that are the stars of Barcelona. I've said this before and i'll say it again during my time of being a season ticket holder at United i have never seen anyone capture my imagination like Ronaldo (Scholes is a close second) and it doesn't matter left foot, right foot, header, free kicks, playing in england, playing in spain the man can do it all, and he's still the best in the world IMO but he's playing at a Real team that hasn't gelled yet under Jose and the ego's don't help but once they do Barca won't be able to topple them

  • Comment number 88.

    Football is a team game, and until Argentina play like a team with or without Messi they will continue to come unstuck.

    This is also why i believe Messi is better than Ronaldo. Ronaldo only plays for himself and not the team.

    How many times does Ronaldo take too long on the ball to showboat rather than play a team mate through and then it's too late and the chance is gone.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    Comment number 82. At
    15:49 11th Jul 2011, garygi
    wrote:
    In response to your last comment,you are calculating football like mathematics.Argentina defeated Portugal 4:1,Portugal defeated spain 4:0 but that doesnt take anything away from spain.
    Comment 87 has said it all''ve said this
    before and i'll say it again
    during my time of being a
    season ticket holder at United
    i have never seen anyone
    capture my imagination like
    Ronaldo (Scholes is a close
    second) and it doesn't matter
    left foot, right foot, header,
    free kicks, playing in england,
    playing in spain the man can
    do it all, and he's still the best
    in the world'
    Haven't you wondered why Ronaldo won the player of the year with no manutd player nominated but messi won it with xavi and iniesta nominated,Messi is undoubtedly good and talented but is only the best playing alongside xavi and iniesta

  • Comment number 91.

    @BlameItOnEboue

    It's true that Ronaldo's style of play is more individualistic but I think that originated more out of necessity than simple greed. Looking at it from Ronaldo's perspective there has rarely been a time when he's had teammates anywhere near Messi's in comparison.

    When you compare Barca to Real or Manchester it's obvious that Messi's teamates are better. The same goes for Portugal and Argentina, where after the golden generation, left Ronaldo became the best player. It's hard to compare anyone on Portugal to their Argentine counterpart.

    Messi is a fantastic player but he's also a fantastic team player. Ronaldo is questionably not. But it's easier being a team player with better teammates. When Messi plays on Argentina he spends considerably more time on the ball much more time even though Argentina are still an impressive team. Look at Ronaldo, he's had to the same most of his career.

  • Comment number 92.

    Copa America 2007,Sky Sports covered it,now ESPN have the rights,Tim said on a recent edition he is not even allowed in the stadium as BBC have no media rights.
    Mexico have been disappointing,I know it is an under 23 team,as Gold Cup winners and now U17 World Cup champions better things are on the way.

  • Comment number 93.

    Tim, you must be the only bloke at BBC who cares about the CopaAmerica! They don't even list the results!
    We are on the brink of a major upset; Argentina could get knocked out if they dnt get a result against Costa Rica but the beeb only cares to publish articles on whether London superstars may or may not leave their club!

  • Comment number 94.

    By considering his international form we can clearly say that Messi will not be the same Messi of today after the retirement of Xavi and Iniesta.

  • Comment number 95.

    "This website should provide people with coverage of relevant football events.

    The Copa is a hugely relevant event. The women's world cup is comparable to a school sports day for eight year olds. It's nice to have but really nobody cares. "

    ____________________________________________

    What a muppet.

    Women's Football, no sorry, the participation of the ENGLISH Women's Football team in the WWC is somehow less relevant to the BRITISH Broadcasting corporation than the Copa AMERICA?

    So what exactly about the WWC makes it less relevant than the CA to you? Obviously the participation of the fairer sex you chauvinist pig!

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    Messi, is the best in Barca, but in Argentina? no, but hes got the time to show he does.
    (Off Topic) Yes C.Ronaldo does not perform all the time for Portugal, but when he did vs Spain in a 4-0 destruction in the freindly, the guy was on fire!

  • Comment number 98.

    Personally, I prefer Ronaldo to Messi. He has consistently performed in two top leagues while Messi is yet to emerge from his comfort zone in Spain. I am glad that the Copa America has brought Messi down to earth. Now those comparisons to Maradona will stop for a while and those niggling doubts (could he really do it on a cold wet night at Stoke?) will start to surface again.

    It is one thing to have the likes of Xavi and Iniesta oiling the machine for you and it is much more different prospect to have Mascherano, Cambiasso etc do the same. Until Messi learns to play without Xavi and co, the jury will always be out on whether or not he has the stomach for difficult matches where he doesn't have his regular support cast. Ronaldo shone in a team that had Wes Brown, Darren Fletcher, John O'Shea, Ji-Sung Park etc and still came good. He went to Spain and took to the League like a duck takes to water. You might not like him because he shaves and greases his legs. You might loathe the fact that he appears cocky and arrogant, constantly complaining, but the Portuguese has done well with limited tools.

    Messi is truly magical when in full flight, but it appears he is content with being Leo Messi of Barcelona and not Leo Messi of Barcelona and Argentina.

  • Comment number 99.

    I really hate comparisons between messi and c ronaldo. They are both great players. Best this generation.we are lucky to watch such talents. People pay to watch them whether they play well or not. I wouldn't pay to watch players like Fred. It's hard to compare because this is team game not individualism like tennis (yes I know doubles and Davis cup exist) or golf (Ryder cup also). Both are superstars within a team sport. Besides statistics of goals and assists, comparing is tough. If goals is what makes brilliance than goalkeepers that score goals are best players in the world. This is false if course.

    Personally I hope messi succeeds at international level. He has not been great but he is only 24. Maradona was 25-26 before he "single-handedly" (I personally don't agree because it is disrespectful to his teammates and plus maradona didn't score a goal in the final) won the world cup. When messi retires in 10 years time, then we should argue about greatness and best player etc etc. Di stephano, eusebio, pele, cruyff, beckhambauer, bobby Moore, zidane, ronaldo, ger muller. Platini etc. How do you compare greats from different generations.

    Comparing them to past is irrelevant cause of different styles, speed of the game,

  • Comment number 100.

    Hope BBC do a better job of coverage of the European championships.

 

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