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  Debate

Debate

Is Argentina too dependent on Messi, or is Scaloni's strategy just not working?

Lionel Messi missed Argentina’s final Copa America group game against Peru to nurse an injury and returned to play full-time against Ecuador in the quarter-finals. Seeing Messi’s impact-less performance, former MLS star Alejandro Moreno thinks the former has yet to fully recover from injury. Moreno said the Argentine skipper’s movement was minimal, despite him being the team’s attacking conduit. Meanwhile, Argentina’s boss Lionel Scaloni also took the heat from the ex-MLS player for not making the right substitutions at the right time.

La Pulga’s forgetful display against Ecuador was the talking point in the latest episode of ESPN’s Futbol Americas“There was no movement from Lionel Messi. So what worries me is that whatever he’s got, maybe he’s lingering and quite frankly it affects the way that he plays. And it affects the way the team plays,” said Ale Moreno. Then, Moreno put Argentina coach Scaloni under scrutiny. “Lionel Scaloni as well. Some of his decisions today…my goodness. We can tell Enzo Fernandez is struggling, we can tell Rodrigo De Paul is struggling. We can tell that you need help in the midfield,” Moreno added.

The ESPN analyst continued, “It takes forever to make these changes. When you make these changes, you realize, ‘You know what, we’re lucky, we’re hanging on instead of making more defensive substitutions. Look if you have to take Lionel Messi off the field, you take Lionel Messi off the field because he’s not helping you defensively or offensively.”

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USA Today via Reuters

While this intense scrutiny hangs over Lionel Messi like a dark cloud, he thinks he and Argentina had a good game. The Albiceleste captain also said he is past his physical woes.

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Lionel Messi feels good after Argentina narrowly reaches Copa semi-finals

“Honestly, I finished the match very well, and I didn’t feel any discomfort again. So, the result was good. I was able to play, and most importantly, everything worked out,” said Lionel Messi in a post-game interview. Speaking about his hamstring problem, Messi said he has recovered, but had some psychological struggles of coping with the recovery. He might have perhaps played the game, hoping his injury would not return soon. Well, it was evident from his gameplay.

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USA Today via Reuters

As pointed out by Moreno, the Inter Miami star rarely made an impact against Ecuador. And when he got a chance to take Argentina’s first penalty in the shootout, he misfired with a bold Panenka shot that hit the crossbar. Anyhow, Messi and Co. still returned as victors and are set to play in their fifth straight Copa semi-final. They will face the winners of the Canada-Venezuela quarter-final tie.