CORDOBA - Struggling hosts Argentina have
made four changes for Monday's match against Costa Rica which
they must win to be sure of reaching the Copa America
Coach Sergio Batista announced his line-up, aimed at freeing
Lionel Messi from close marking in the middle, on the squad's
arrival in Cordoba from their Buenos Aires base on Sunday night.
Costa Rica, second in Group A after a 1-0 win over Bolivia,
and Argentina, who have drawn twice, meet at Cordoba's Mario
Alberto Kempes stadium on Tuesday. Colombia won the
group and qualified with a 2-0 win over Bolivia on Sunday.
"We needed more ball movement and Fernando [Gago] does that
very well," Batista told a news conference, referring to using
the Real Madrid midfielder in place of Ever Banega.
"And now we're going to have a number nine high up, even
two," he added referring to bringing in Gonzalo Higuain and
Sergio Aguero in place of the ineffective Carlos Tevez and
The other change is Angel Di Maria on the left of midfield
instead of Esteban Cambiasso, a winger in place of a defensive
The plan, with a midfield that helped Batista's Olympic team
win the gold medal at the Beijing Games in 2008, is to
allow Messi to roam, mainly on the right, and draw markers away
from the Argentine creative hub while also joining it at will.
Messi, in a roaming centre forward role in the first two
matches, suffered the close attentions of several players in
A frustrated Messi and the rest of the players were booed
off the pitch in Santa Fe but Batista said he would never think
of dropping the little FIFA world player of the year.
"The idea is always to build a team around Messi... it's
very hard to drop him because, for me, he is a 90-minute player.
He can play badly a while, but he can always show you
something," Batista said.
Team: Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Nicolas Burdisso,
Gabriel Milito, Javier Zanetti; Fernando Gago, Javier
Mascherano, Angel Di Maria; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain,
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