“It was hard.Â We did not deserve to go a goal behind, as they were not better than us. Sometimes you play better, and other times you have to fight harder. This game was one of those days.” – Lionel Messi.
One goal, one assist, and a man-of-the-match winning performance. That’s exactly what Lionel Messi needed, and supplied, in Colombia.
Arriving in Barranquilla with a poor away record of just one win in their last eight matches, and on the back of a disappointing 1-1 home draw with Bolivia, Argentina needed to find something special to arrest their downward momentum.Â Thankfully for the Albiceleste, Lionel Messi decided to show up.
La Pulga started and finished the slick move which levelled the game up in the 61st minute, and the Flea then left Mario Yepes for dead in the 85th to tee up Sergio Aguero’s late winner.
Some cynics, however, have managed to turn Messi’s match-winning performance into something of a negative. They argue that lesson learned in Colombia is that when Messi is on-song Argentine are the victorious beneficiaries. On the flip-side though, when Messi is having a day to forget and/or is being neutralised by opponents, many fear that Argentina have no plan B.
Reducing the South Americans to what Diego Maradona once described asÂ “Messi and 10 more” seems folly with players like Aguero, Higuain, Di Maria,Â Lavezzi and Pastore in their ranks. Yet recent results though suggest that there is some truth at present to labelling Argentina a bit of one man team.
Coach Alejandro Sabella now has a long seven month window before his nation’s next qualifier in which to find the cure for the Messi problem.Â Discovering ways to win matches without relying his star player is now his central task.