The Argentine National Team secured the first place in its group, to face Ecuador on Saturday for the quarterfinals of the Copa América, after beating Bolivia 4-1. Although those led by Lionel Scaloni starred on the fifth date against the weakest rival of the tournament – who also came eliminated and would once again make his goalkeeper Carlos Lampe figure -, It was his game that did not give rise to any surprises and the one that was encouraged to continue giving continuity (more and more) to that powerful and vertical football, fast and collective, which has given it its shine in the South American contest.
Lionel Messi celebrated a double on the night that established him as the player who wore the blue and white the most times, with 148 appearances. A good record to synthesize the protagonism and football – perhaps one of his best versions with the National Team – that the captain has been displaying in this Copa América and that he made no exception against the Bolivians. “I always want to play”, Messi told his DT “Pancho” Ferraro 16 years ago, when he won the youth world title, and his last days in Brazil – where he did not miss a minute and led the best moments of Argentina – are only proof of one thing : that, at 34, that enthusiasm is still intact.
But Scaloni’s is a team that wants to be collaborative, and there, when it manages to be supportive, is when it shows its most beautiful expressions, those that drown their rivals and make their fans applaud. That the Barcelona star has participated in each of the National Team’s goals only confirms a certainty of the last half: leaving aside the obviousness that he is the best player in the world, it seems increasingly clear that Messi is comfortable and happy as a driver of that solidarity.
That is why he was the goalkeeper with which Alejandro “Papu” Gómez opened the scoring with a powerful left-handed volley. And for that, in turn, He signed that double that he opened from a penalty and completed with a perfect definition -inner face, above Lampe- after an exquisite pass from Sergio Agüero. The good news that was the shout with which Lautaro Martínez sealed the 4-1 and returned to the goal (after Erwin Saavedra’s discount) also began to be written on his boots, when he accelerated the team’s rhythm by giving the ball to Marcos Acuña, the one who sent the ball to the area.
The Argentine National Team knows that it cannot take its farewell to the group stage as the measure of what he does best -and what he still lacks-, but on Saturday he will be facing Ecuador in the quarterfinals because offered the forcefulness I needed and because it seems that, the more the ball is shot, the more that solidarity that Messi has as a driver is refined and empowered.