The dominance of the Argentine National team, La Albiceleste was apparent from the first minute of the final group game of the Copa America Centenario. Their speed and skill was on display as soon as they took to the pitch. There was no Lionel Messi in the starting XI, but it didn’t stop the 45,000-strong crowd from chanting his name at every possible moment.
The goals came from his teammates (Lamela, Lavezzi and Cuesta ) as Argentina clinched a matchup with Venezuela in the quarterfinals. And all that dominance came with Messi relaxing on the bench, hearing his name chanted by the crowd throughout the first half as they eagerly anticipated the chance to see the best player of this generation coming off a memorable reserve performance just a few days earlier against Panama.
Through an interpreter Argentina manager Gerardo Martino said;
"Regardless of the result, regardless after the first half he knew he was going to play for 45 minutes," Martino said of Messi. "He is growing compared to the last game. The last game he played 30, today 45 and he is feeling more confident. That is what we were going to do regardless."
"People want to see him. People pay all over the world to see him and he has to deal with that,". "Sometimes he has to play and sometimes he has to be on the bench but he has that obligation to follow through for the fans who are paying to be there. He has to live with that."
Aside from a few flashes of obvious brilliance (including a nutmeg of the Bolivia goalkeeper that was nullified by the offside flag)
The world’s most popular soccer player didn’t have much of an effect on the match. But that didn't matter to those who paid to see the legendary player in person.
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