CORDOBA – Argentina boss Sergio Batista says his team must help Lionel Messi find his magic –- but the coach of their final group rivals Costa Rica, Ricardo La Volpe, says the hosts’ problems are nothing new.
“We have the world’s best player and we have to help him He can be good or bad but he is still the best player in the world and he is an Argentine,” was Batista’s view as he issued a clarion call late Sunday to a revamped side which has seen him drop crowd favourite Carlos Tevez for Sergio Aguero.
Argentina, without a tournament win since 1993, has to win Monday night’s game against the Costa Ricans to avoid crashing out of the event after only drawing with Bolivia and group winners Colombia.
Buenos Aires-born La Volpe, who had primarily coached in Mexico before taking the Costa Rican reins last year, had Sunday night whipped up sentiment by saying he hoped “Argentina doesn’t wake up” in time to see off his men.
La Volpe told TyC Sports he foresaw a more aggressive Argentinian approach with Messi playing off a classic number nine in Gonzalo Higuain and Aguero.
But he also revealed he felt the hosts’ problems were not down to individuals and that the critics were being harsh on Batista, who only took over from Diego Maradona after last summer’s World Cup.
“How long has he been working with the team? Argentina has problems on a collective level – it happened to Maradona as well.
“Things have not been coming together for 16 years. In 2002 (at the World Cup) we didn’t even get through the group. There has to be an analysis of where things are going wrong,” said La Volpe.
He noted the players seemed to be good enough as most had stacked up domestic titles across the years, especially in Europe’s top leagues.