Blog Written by Matteo Bellini:
The Argentineans have already booked a place in the knockout round, while Bolivia know they are already out of the tournament. Will Argentina crash through the group stage unbeaten or will Bolivia spoil that and try to give their people a little joy after an uninspired campaign?
They did it once again Argentina prove why they are top dogs. Even with an alternative squad that sported the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Matias Kraneviter, they tore apart a very wounded Bolivia team that already knew they were out of the tournament and couldn’t prevent losing all three matches of the group stage. Argentina imposed its dominance from the beginning not only due to their superiority on a footballing level but you could almost feel the frustration Bolivia was suffering evidenced by their impotence and the nasty fouls they committed. The score was opened when Erik Lamela’s free kick was deflected by a Bolivian player and ended in the back of the net after only 13 minutes.
The situation was made worse after only two minutes later when Lavezzi took advantage of a rebound product of a Gonzalo Higuain header. The Argentinians always posed a threat and always looked confident going forward and defending. Bolivia did little to disturb Argentina’s dominance and failed to worry Sergio Romero and his defense. Soon enough another goal came after a great play which resulted in a cross that Cuesta tapped in.
When the second half was about to start the whole stadium exploded in joy as they saw Messi ready to join the action. We also saw the return Lucas Biglia who had been injured. This of course marked the end of Ever Banega’s game, who had a solid performance pulling the strings and creating chances. Gonzalo Higuain, the Napoli superstar, also was subbed off, in favor of Messi. Once again he had an uninspired performance and only his header that ended up helping Lavezzi score was worth noting. I guess we all expect more from the top scorer of Serie A. Still, the second half had little action, the Argentina siege of Bolivia’s half never stopped but a great green wall was built and eleven men defended against the Albiceleste led by Lionel Messi. which caused the score board to remain unchanged. Though the Argentine ace couldn´t score, he still showed great footwork and made the Bolivians enraged with his unstoppable moves. Argentina was one goal away from breaking the record of most goals scored in the group stage matches in the history of the Copa America.
All in all, it was a tidy performance by the Argentinian’s who won all three matches of the group stage and come in as strong as favorites to take the trophy home. The five guys in the back, including Romero and Jonathan Maidana didn’t have to worry too much as Bolivia looked sterile in attack. Argentina’s midfield led by Ever Banega was great when distributing and recovering balls. Matias Kranevitter’s work should be noted as the youngster had a great match. Biglia, who came in when the second half started, proved that he should be a starter. The three men up front looked very dangerous in attack. Lavezzi had a great game as well as Aguero, they both proved an effective threat. Higuain yet again proves he might not be up to task and Messi who replaced him did what Messi does best, make fans world wide scream his name as he had a quiet performance.
Argentina moves on to the elimination phase and will go head to head against Venezuela. Will this be their year and dispatch Venezuela as easily as their group stage match ups or will Salomon Rondon and his fellow teammates shock everyone and make history? The two nations face off in the Copa America Centenario quarterfinal on June 18 at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts