Argentina look to avoid Copa exit
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP):
At risk of elimination, Argentina play Qatar toay to try to survive at the Copa América. The Asian champion doesn’t seem afraid to send Lionel Messi’s team back home.
Messi and Argentina, once more struggling in an international tournament, have no choice but to beat Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup.
But the signs are troubling no matter where the Argentines look.
Messi is still isolated, teamwork is non-existent, midfielders are easily distracted, putting more pressure on defenders, and interim and inexperienced coach Lionel Scaloni keeps testing new formations.
A win at Porto Alegre’s Arena do Gremio will not even guarantee for Argentina a quarterfinal berth as they will have to wait for other results. The top two in each group and the two best to finish third advance.
Colombia has already qualified as top of Group B after two wins, and will face Paraguay, which has two points. Argentina and Qatar have one point each, but Qatar is ahead on tiebreakers.
The last time Argentina crashed out of a Copa América group stage was in 1983.
“It would be crazy not to advance when three teams are practically guaranteed in the next round,” Messi said.
But the five-time world player of the year says Argentina’s reality is different now.
“We knew that it was not easy to come play Copa América. We were searching for a team, for a system,” Messi said. “Nowadays, you don’t win because of the shirt anymore, and we have to do things well to get the three points.”