In just over a week Argentina begin their Copa América campaign against Colombia in Salvador but before that Lionel Scaloni takes his squad to San Juan for a final friendly against Nicaragua to complete preparations.
There were few surprises in Scaloni’s 23-man group and only a couple of doubts within the starting eleven which the 41-year-old coach confirmed to the press on Thursday evening. As ever the position of Lionel Messi and how to get the best from the captain is the conundrum facing Scaloni and while Argentina are trying not to focus on that, Scaloni knows that if Messi can reproduce anywhere near his Barcelona form then La Albiceleste’s hopes improve tenfold.
“If we play the way we want and Messi does what he does every Sunday, we will probably do well,” Scaloni told reporters.
Finding the way to help Messi achieve this level has been something that Argentina coaches have struggled with for a decade and now Scaloni has a new set of teammates in order to provide support to what have invariably been virtuoso displays from the world’s best player.
“We are working on creating a team and if we get a team with everyone at their best it will be even better. The idea is what we have tried to convey in most of the matches, where we were solid while still being offensive. We’re focused on being a team that’s hard to beat and not solely on whether Leo or others fit in – the focus is putting together a team.
“I want the best players to be able to show that when Messi plays. [Giovani] Lo Celso is one the best that is obvious, he has had a spectacular season and he has to prove that on the pitch when Leo is also there. The dream is that they link-up in matches as they do in training.”