July 18th, 2011
11:46 AM ET

Copa America flops: Who is to blame?

Down and out: Lionel Messi was powerless to prevent Argentina being eliminated by Uruguay.
Down and out: Lionel Messi was powerless to prevent Argentina being eliminated by Uruguay.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. South American giants Argentina and Brazil, who have won a combined 22 Copa America titles, were both knocked out of the competition over the weekend.

How did this happen? A lot of fans have been quick to point their fingers at stars Lionel Messi of Argentina and Brazil’s Neymar.

However, before you do that, check out my arguments as to why the coaches are really the ones to blame.

Let’s start with the hosts, Argentina. They kicked off the competition with two incredibly poor performances in Group A, a 1-1 draw with Bolivia and a 0-0 draw with Colombia. Coach Sergio Batista had to shoulder a lot of the blame. Why?

Well, he insisted on leaving the likes of Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Javier Pastore on the bench when all of them ended the season on a high. Their replacements, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Carlos Tevez, Ever Banega and Esteban Cambiasso failed to shine.

Eventually, after pressure from the country’s fans and media, Batista made some changes in time for a comfortable win against Costa Rica which guaranteed the side’s place in the quarterfinals.

But all was not well. Even though he secured a spot in the next round, in failing to find his best XI right at the start of the competition, the coach missed the chance to solidify his side and they lost meekly on penalties to Uruguay, even though La Celeste were reduced to 10 men in the 38th minute.

You may think “Oh it’s easy to blame the manager when things go wrong”. But trust me, Batista has to fall on his sword for failing to find not only the best players but the best system to benefit the best player on the planet: Messi.

Now I have been saying this for years and I will say it again. Messi scores an astronomical amount of goals for Barcelona thanks to one man: Xavi.

He is the man pulling the strings and allowing the Argentine phenomenon to pick up the ball in the areas of the pitch where he can do the most damage. Argentina do not have anyone like Xavi, so obviously there would be no way Messi could score as often as he does for Barca.

However, by now, Argentine coaches should have found a system that would allow the current world player of the year to excel.

In nine games for Argentina at last year’s World Cup and this year’s Copa, how many goals did Messi score? Zero. Strange, but true.

Now as much as you can say that he has played badly for his country, I don’t agree. He tries just as hard as he does for Barcelona and he is just as influential.

The problem is he doesn’t score, and this happens because he constantly has to drop deep to get the ball and never gets it in a position where he can hit the back of the net.

Against Uruguay, Batista had Aguero, Di Maria and Higuain up front. Messi was supposed to be in the hole with two defensive midfielders behind him. Now was this the right set-up for him to excel? No.

Leo should always be part of the front three with someone feeding him the ball. Someone like Pastore, someone like Banega, someone who is creative.

As much as I respect Javier Mascherano and Javier Zanetti they are not playmakers and don’t have the skill or talent to build. They are destroyers first and foremost and cannot fulfil that role.

After the defeat on penalties to Uruguay, Batista said: “I wouldn’t call this a disaster.” He’s wrong. It was a disaster and he will be sacked soon enough. Believe me.

So, onto Brazil. The Selecao had won the last two Copa titles, in 2004 and 2007. With the next World Cup on home soil, manager Mano Menezes is working with the understanding he MUST build a team that can win the competition in 2014. His first test was the tournament in Argentina and I have to say it was a test he failed.

Now I am not naïve enough to expect that Brazil will play with the flair and skill they once did. Futebol Bonito is dead and it is more important to win than to entertain.

However, what I cannot accept is Brazil playing in a system with two defensive midfielders with all the talent they have in the centre of the park. They did it at the World Cup, with Felipe Melo and Gilberto Silva, and they did it again at the Copa, with Lucas Leiva and Ramires. If Dunga, the last coach, was fired because his brand of football was defensive and predictable, then how can Menezes follow in his footsteps?

A lot was written and said about teenage star Neymar before this event. There is no doubt in my mind he is incredibly talented, but to expect him to be the guy who is going to get you the cup is not fair. He is not that good and has not reached his full potential.

Furthermore, to ask another youngster, Ganso, to organize the team’s attack when he has just come back from a serious injury and has yet to hit peak form is plain silly.

Now this Copa should be a huge wake up call for Menezes. The first thing he needs to do is find better central midfield players. The likes of Lucas, Sandro, Elias and Ramires are not good enough.

They may be hardworking, they may be disciplined, but you cannot pick two of these guys in your starting XI and expect to beat the top teams on the planet.

What about Lazio’s Hernanes? What about some of the kids from the team that just won the Under-17 South American Championship? Menezes needs to find answers. Otherwise he could find himself out of a job before the next World Cup kicks off in three years time.

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soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. bob212

    to say that lucas leiva, ramires and sandro aren't good enough is just stupid especially when you say to give hernanes a chance a guy who had his chance and failed. Lucas ramires and sandro all performed brilliantly for their clubs especially lucas a player who was considered a flop is now a key player for liverpool poor reporting on your part your opinions are ridiciulous about brazil but i do however agree with you on argentina

    July 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  2. amogha

    Yes , I agree with this statement.......but...i always say that messi is the best palyer in the worl even he never score for argentina..only 4 assists copa america..messi is the best player in the world...with no doubt..

    July 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  3. alessandra

    I don't care about the others,,,just care that PERU' in going ahead in a great way !!!! Vamos PERU' !!!!!!
    Now is time to start to talk about different players, Brazil, Argentina.....they're like the persil, you find them in any place...but now something is changing.......TE QUIERO PERU' !!!!!

    July 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  4. Benyamin

    I do agree with your points regarding Batista. He is a stupid guy and deserved all the blame. He is stupid because in the friendlies that Argentina played before Copa America, he tried to make Messi adopted with Aguero, Higuain. He never tested Tevez and Laveize there but now come on to Copa America, he took the start with Tevez and Lavezi while keeping players like Pastore, Aguero, Higuain on the bench who used to play friendlies alongside with Messi. What a stupidity. I a kid can better manage this Argentina side than him. Hate for his Job as a coach. He doesn't deserve this job at all. Time to say Good bye to him.!

    July 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  5. Mutaking

    First to blame the coaches is not right first Messi along with the other players were below par maybe another long season as the best player in the world it doesn't matter what formation you perform Brazil well they missed very good chances maybe you wanted the coach to get on and score

    July 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  6. M.

    I disagree to a certain extent. I think Argentina has already failed twice with 2 different managers since more than a year.

    World cup with Maradona: didn't stand a chance against many teams in tha event
    Copa America with Batista: no comments

    Don't you start then thinking, why is it that Argentina full of shinning stars can't manage to play together? Perhaps, different styles? Or perhaps Messi is a very good player, but nothing more without the help of Xavi and Iniesta...perhaps the best player can be found within the Spanish team...not sure, but Messi has not achieved anything on a country level...to me that alone, does not make him the best player, but just the best one at a club level ;)

    July 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  7. Gonzalo Castrillon

    Sir.:

    You have to remember that Uruguay have won the Copa America 14 time,
    and finished in four place in the last FIFA World Cup.

    July 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Reply
  8. Gonzalo Castrillon

    The soccer it is in constant change. that why teams like PERU or VENEZUELA are about to play the semi final

    July 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Reply
  9. papoulout (twitter)

    How did Hernanes fail? He was red carded in one game, is that why you guys consider failing ? Wow, Hernanes is way better than Ganso and would have been better than Ganso. Ganso didn't play for almost a whole year,Hernanes had a great season with Lazio, why wasn't he part of the team? Nilmar, Hulk had a better season than Fred, Robinho. Neymar is not all that for me "YET". He still needs to prove himself to the world. Like the writer said Lucas Leiva, Ramires , Sandro and Lucas are not good enough plain and sample, unless you just started to watch the Brazil team playing you'll remember guys like Gilberto Silva and Ze Roberto. Andre Santos as the starting left back ??? This is a slap in the face to Roberto Carlos who used to play that position 1995-2006 . Mano is not good enough for the selecao and made a lot of bad choices. No one knows what he has in mind or what he's trying to do anyway.

    July 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  10. Akinwande Akinbayode

    Pedro,your observation and analysis are very correct. Messi needs feeders and Neymar has to blossom. This is football,magic just don't happen.

    July 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Reply
  11. MASHUD

    DEAR PEDRO,

    Thanks for an excellent & accurate analysis BUT unfortunately Stupid Batista will remain the Coach of Argentina as long as Mr. Grandona remains the President of AFA! Batista says "this is not a disaster!" well, fair enough for him to save HIS JOB! And Tevez? Including the Great Maradona stood for him for a place in Batista's 23 but how did he repay the Nation? WITH THE WORST SPOT KICK IN ARGENTINA'S MOST CRUCIAL MATCH IN IT'S HISTORY! Finally Xavier Mascherano! He NEVER deserved to be the Captain of Argentina – this is Batista's shortcoming as a Coach! He continued with someone (Mascherano) as the Captain who seldom happens to be in the Best XI of Barcelona.

    THREE ERNEST REQUEST TO THE ARGENTINIANS ---

    (01) Appoint Oscar Ruggeri (A world Cup Winner, A Copa America Winner & A Confederation Cup Winner – A REGULAR WINNER) as the Coach of Argentina coz he loves Argentina
    (02) Please make sure the 23 players in the National Squad REGULARLY PRACTICE PENALTY SHOOT OUT "364 DAYS!"
    (03) I believe NO ARGENTINIAN EVER WANTS TO SEE Sergio Batista, Xavier Mascherano & Carlos Tevez EVER in the ARGENTINE LINE UP AGAIN.

    SORRY ARGENTINA !!!!!!!!!

    July 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Reply
  12. alehandro

    Hate the idea that Argentina failed because Messi didn't get the right service. This is supposedly the best player in the world we're talking about, and players who take the field with that kind of billing are supposed to make things happen for themselves. To be fair to him he does when wearing Barcelona colors because contrary to your observation, he doesn't play as an out and out forward for Barca, but is frequently found in midfield getting the ball for himself and not always waiting to have it dished up by Xavi. He doesn't do that as much for Argentina, and for the national team he doesn't look like the best player in the world, but even if he did, it's a team game and if a coach's success hinges on the form of one player then he's walking a pretty thin wire. No wonder, therefore, that the Albiceleste fell off.

    July 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  13. el leon

    I wouldn't blame Messi vs Costa Rica, what he did was was phenomenal, and yes with out Xavi is very difficult for Messi. Yes the problem no Xavi in Argentina Messi had to play that roll and he did it very well against Costa Rica. Only solution now that we know for sure this team is not working. Keep Messi maybe 2 or 3 players from Europe and bring players from Argentina playing in Argentina with hunger to show themselves.

    July 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  14. Leonid

    I don't agree with the idea that Xavi is the one behind Messi's success. If he were, he would have the most assists, no? Instead, it is MESSI who has the most assists and goals for Barca. Whatever "space" Xavi must be finding for Messi is not that useful then, is it? I agree Xavi does a very good job of linking Barca's defence to the attack and channeling the ball very well to Barca's attack, but, really, what midfielder in the world doesn't do this for their team? The few times Obi Mikel gets to play for Chelsea, he plays this role for them perfectly as well! Is he hailed as the source of their success? No. He doesn't even start that often, as I mentioned. If anything, it's Messi who makes Xavi look good, not vice-versa.

    As for his performances for Argentina, only a fool can say he doesn't do well. 4 assists in a disjointed team like Argentina is a laudable achievement. He will not score as many as he does for Barca, because that is not the role in which he is played in the Argentine national team. His job is to create chances, and he REALLY does that( which is what Xavi is supposed to do for Messi, but as the stats show, he doesn't). I also don't agree that his role needs to be changed. He has excelled in his new role, so why change it, especially when no one on the team is as good as him at that? Instead, fix the rest of the team.

    July 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  15. davi

    Brazil needs Lucas to replace Robinho (Robinho, even when playing well, hurt the attack of the team much more.), needs to replace the defense, since Lucio and Julio Cesar are not up for the job (against Paraguai it did not show, but it does show on more serious competition), their mistakes cost too much. The rest is to let them play more, they are getting there...they will win the world cup

    July 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  16. Malkudi

    Pedro, I agree with your assesment of messi's failure to tickle argentina. But one thing you need to know & remember is that messi just started playing as the top striker in barca & swapping with villa & pedro from time to time during matched, now in argentina the mistake batista made was to give him the playmaker role. It failed in the world cup & it failed again.Huguain did NOT finish strongly. As for brazil, I think the coach depended on youngsters & they couldn't cope with the pressure. The formation 4-2-3-1 is the right one or the diamond midfield would fit in well if he chose them like this : ganso, lucas, ramires & melo. Robinho is not the player he was & I think he should have disposed him earlier. Another point you should have mentioned is the very poor state of the pitch & especially the penalty spot from which they took the penalties. Secondly the exclusion of marcelo & kaka.

    July 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  17. Kingsley Omeihe

    When the Super Eagles of Nigeria trounced the La Celestes in Abuja by five goals,i put up an expose doubting the technical capacity of Coach Sergio Batista.A lot of critics doubted my vision.However,their mediocre performance has taken a lot of shine off the mundial.
    I do agree with my man Pinto,that Batista made a couple of wrong decisions leaving Higuain,Di maria and Aguero.
    The Argentine team thrives on the understanding of a certain system and style of play,which the Coach still hasnt come to terms with.

    Kingsley omeihe(Sports consultant)

    July 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  18. Javier Vargas

    Hola Pedro,

    I agree totally with your article regarding the failures of Argentina and Brazil in this recent Copa tournament.
    The coaches are to blame and being an Argentina supporter for decades, I'm disappointed with Batista's style and I think he is worse than Maradona. I think he shall not wait until he is sacked. He should just resign!
    And you are absolutely correct about the influence Xavi has on Messi. May I add Iniesta too? Argentina definitely does not have any players that resemble Xavi and Iniesta in their current squad in terms of skills and experience. Not even close.
    Probably a good potential playmaker that can fill the hole would be Pastore and Batista left him out in the first 2 games. Unbelievable.
    Apart from the playmakers, what many people fail to realize is Messi is not a typical striker. He is best played as the second striker or forward roles. And, Argentina should have a player that can be the main striker and let Messi to be the bridge between the playmakers and the main striker. Therefore, Messi can have the options to assist the main striker or to score himself provided he gets good assists from the playmakers.
    And again, Argentina might not have a typical real No.9 like David Villa in Barcelona. The best player to fill that? Probably Higuain I guess. And he was left out in the first 2 games AGAIN?
    As for Tevez and Aguero, I like them a lot especially Aguero who scored 2 goals against minnow Costa Rica. But, Tevez, Aguero and Messi, they play the same style of football. Not to mention about the same height. In any teams in the world, you will only need one Messi, not a bunch of Messis. So, instead of fielding all of them, Batista should think to only pick only one from them and let other players to fill in other gaps.
    So in conclusion, for Batista (if he stays) and probably new coach, to build a team around Messi, 3 simple rules:
    1. Get a real playmaker. A traditional Number 10.
    2. Get a real striker. A traditional Number 9.
    3. Only one Messi is enough!

    July 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Reply
  19. Franklin

    Messi is very good but certainly not the best.I think C.Ronaldo is better than him.Messi can not many goals without Xavi and Iniesta(Barcelona) but C.Ronaldo can score anywhere,anyday.This makes Him the Best.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  20. Oscar

    This is one great article everything on it is precise Argentina they have to find a way to build team around Messi and case of Brazil those guys needs to change allot 1st they need a goal poacher someone who is reliable when it comes to scoring no those front liners they have..I think Dunga dealt the team well but he miscalculated somewhere

    July 18, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  21. fernando perez

    I applaud that CNN is giving importance to this oldest of Football(not soccer) competitions but you should focus on the high level of competitiveness, the evolution of many mid-low ranked teams and not falling under the commercial temptation of saying why ARG and BRA are doing wrong.

    You should focus on valuing Venezuela's improvement and their evolution through time, the fails of overconfident Chile and Mexico, Uruguayan's "garra" that won an historic game agains next door arch-rival Argentina (they have same # of WC, CP and Olympic championships) and Peru's evolution. Coverage would be improved if there was a thorough analysis of this competition and not focusing only on the two "star" team. Thanks

    July 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Reply
  22. jokos

    Pedro, bcos you are a Barca Fan, you are blind to messi's defects. Messi is a good player anyday but not as much as people like you have carried him. Xavi is excellent for country and club. Maradona was excellent for both country and club. Pele was excellent for both country and club. Zidane, Sneider, Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho etc. were all good for country and club. Just tell me any world player b4 that was not excellent for club and country. Only Messi as far as I know. U cant say that becos of your Barca connection. It is Xavi or Sneider that deserved that world best player. U have even gone to the extent of telling Argentina to shift their goal post so that messi can shine. During maradona, pele, Zidane, Ronaldo etc time, nobody changed formation or tactics just for one person to thrive. A player (striker) who has played nine times for his country and did not find the back of the net is not good enough. Just say the truth, Messi is the best club player in the world.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  23. Mohamed Bangoura

    this brazilian team is like a toothless tiger, they are very much skillful but lack a sniper means the prolific goal scorer, mano better looks for one at least.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Reply
  24. Adrian

    Uruguay has 14 Copa America Championships, same as Argentina, not to mention its been doing a lot better than the argies lately. So don't be so surprised that they knocked out Argentina.

    July 18, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  25. octect

    Ay Pinto, Pinto, you did it again. I wonder whether you see football with the back of your neck. Paraguay has played like this for years on end, and sometimes it pays off. They should have lost 5 – 0. And Argentina played a wonderful game. They did have one problem though: in front of them was Uruguay. You may have not noticed but Argentina´s fans stood up and clapped Uruguay in admiration. It is not the first time they lost in home soil to them either: this is the third time and Uruguay has crowned themselves champions each time. Do Argentina and Brasil have 22 between them? Between Brazil and Uruguay the also have 22. Well, I do agree with you about Messi though and the lack of a not just Xavi, but it would be enough a Riquelme. And don't forget that Messi has more passes to goals than Xavi in Barcelona. When,oh boy, when will you Mr Pinto, do your paperwork?

    July 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  26. SKYRIDER

    IT IS ALL UNDERDOGS IN THIS TOURNAMENT...AMAZING....- 'VEGAS' HERE I COME!

    July 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Reply
  27. skeater

    Isn't this a women's sport? I liked the game between Japan and US over the weekend BTW...did anyone watch that?

    July 18, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  28. b4r

    Ramires is one of the better players that Brazil has who can actually create something from deep midfield. This reporting is more bad than Brazil and Argentina getting knocked out of the Copa America.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  29. Ayodeji Oluleye

    Soccer is wonderful to follow. Messi excellent for Barca but fain for Argies: its the coach. In life SYSTEMS matter. Now you know what help Xavi and Iniesta offer. We do not give them enough plaudits bcos they operate so flawlessly and efficiently; looks too easy. Messi must also begin to help himself or else his reputation will diminish. Pele and Maradona did both CLUB and COUNTRY. So LEO wake up man.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Reply
  30. Zayn Nabbi

    Great piece Pedro and good to get your insight on the failings of these two South American powerhouses.

    However, I'd like to ask you what you think of the strength of football in Uruguay and Paraguay?

    Clearly these countries are no push overs, especially La Celeste Olímpica who proved in the World Cup with Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, they have the talent to challenge for trophies.

    Has the strength of football not moved away from Brazil and Argentina, albeit in all likelihood temporarily, to other South American nations and do the likes of Uruguay and Paraguay not deserve more credit for the quality of football they are playing at the moment?

    Just a though, use it or abuse it :)

    Cheers
    Zayn

    July 18, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Reply
  31. Jose Augusto ´´Tuto´´

    This is a great lessons for both teams, if they want to be one of most competitive teams in the world. Argentina and Brazil needs to learn from their mistakes and find the right chemistry to play together!!. A star alone cannot shin, but together can illuminate the whole sky!.

    July 19, 2011 at 12:35 am | Reply
  32. Jose Augusto ´´Tuto´´

    This is a great lessons for both teams, if they want to be one of most competitive teams in the world. Argentina and Brazil needs to learn from their mistakes and find the right chemistry to play together!!. A star cannot shine alone, but together can illuminate the whole sky!.

    July 19, 2011 at 12:37 am | Reply
  33. brazilian fish

    Pedro Pinto makes some obvious mistakes about the Seleção in his article. Those mistakes are mostly based on the european vision of Brazilian players. I'm from Brazil, watching closely those youngsters, and therefore I can discuss some issues.
    I completely agree with his vision on playing with 2 defensive midfielders. That was even more valid in the game against a completely defensive paraguayan squad.
    Brazil dominated the match, but was deprived of his best scorers by Menezes' substitutions in the match.
    About Neymar: He is, today, the most decisive Brazilian player in activity, including those who play in Europe. Period. He was the key player for Santos winning the Copa Libertadores (the South American Champions League) after a 49 year drought. When Ganso, his teammate, was injured, he carried the whole squad alone. He is Brazil's main hope for 2014, and, by now, there is no better bet playing in brazilian football now.
    Ganso, even coming back from a serious injury, is an organizer by excellence. His playing for Santos in the last 2 years, when the club won almost everything in the continent shows that. Santos won the São Paulo state league in the last 2 years (a league with the level of some medium leagues in Europe), the Brazilian Cup, and the Copa Libertadores. Santos hasn't won the brazilian league mostly because of his injury, and also because of poor coaching at that championship.
    Santos won all that playing, basically, the "futebol bonito", assumed dead by Pedro. Entertaining the crowd and thrashing the opposition, with Ganso making the assists and Neymar scoring. Commanded by these 2 youngsters.
    With all that said, Menezes' option for them seems completely logic for an offensive coach.
    Hernanes is an option, but he is not an organizer. He is, however, a more offensive option for either Lucas Leiva or Ramires. He must play alongside Ganso or Neymar, not replacing any of them.
    The Brazilian Under-17 players don't have the level, today, to play in Brazil's top squad.
    Brazil lost to Paraguay, a very competent team on defense, because, as said before, of Menezes' poor management in that specific match. He kept Lucas Leiva and Ramires the whole match, took out Neymar and Ganso, and when Lucas Leiva and Alcazar (a defender) were sent off, he rebuilt midfield with another midfielder with defensive characteristics (Elano) and took Pato off, killing the brazilian advantage over Paraguay's defense.
    Menezes is in the right path, but needs to improve his decisions during the matches.

    July 19, 2011 at 2:10 am | Reply
  34. fabio fukumoto

    About Argentina I agree with you that coach Batista has to find a way to put Messi closer to the goal, make him more influent and with him win games, and Sergio needs to find two guys to roll the ball like Iniesta e Xavi do it in Barcelona. As a Brazillian I disagree about Lucas Leiva and Ramires, they are great players. Lucas was elected Liverpool's best player in the last season by their supporters, and with Ramires are for sure a wise soluction to mark and give the ball to the forward players. I think Mano Menezes needs to get better and different options on the bench to change games, not Elias, Sandro and Fred, but Anderson, Hernanes and Hulk, for example, are players that can really do change a game.

    July 19, 2011 at 5:37 am | Reply
  35. Marco

    Argentina is a country that is going from first rate power to third world status in football, following the same road they took in standard of living and economic performance many years ago when, with the rise of Perón to power, the country started to go downhill. I believe this failure to perform is now deeply entrenched in the mentality and character of the Argentinians. I say this because they have the best individual talent in the world, so many of them that they could easily put together two wonderful teams to win the World Cup many times over, yet they are unable to make it past the initial stages in all competitions. Why? because they have the worst people leading the AFA and they have let them sit there for so many years. Grondona is a dinosaur who is more a politician than a footballer and whose time is long past. New leaders are needed, new ways of thinking are needed and old paradigms need to be discarded. As long as they continue to keep these mediocre people as leaders of their football association, they will continue to fail as they are the ones who pick the coaches and who make the crucial decisions regarding the national team. The evidence is quite clear that they have made some awful choices. For example, they have a wonderful coach available, Bielsa, and they should have taken him in for the World Cup as well as for Copa América. Instead they chose two idiots, Maradonna and Batista who shouldn't even coach a minor league team because they simply don't know their trade, they are not even amateurs in a field where true professionals are needed to make a group of world class individual players into a true, successful and winning team.

    July 19, 2011 at 6:35 am | Reply
  36. jean-marc

    Hi Pedro. Nice read. I agree with some of your comments and disagree with others, but that is normal when it comes to sport. Only one suggestion I would like to make: Yes, Argentina and Brazil have failed to deliver but how about a few words on Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela and Uruguay; teams that HAVE delivered and are exceeding expectations? I didn't mind reading about Argentina and Brazil for years because they are the powerhouses of South America but do we need to focus on them even when they aren't doing well? Uruguay outperfomed them on the biggest stage of all (the World Cup) and are doing so again. Surely their efforts deserved to be recognised.

    July 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  37. Gustavo Milanez

    CORINTHIANS GREATER THAN CNN-US

    July 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  38. Jhon Quispe

    The Reason that Messi didnt play like he play in Barcelona is because the Sudamerican Defenders dont let him play with Costa Rica he play good because they let him, with Bolivia the Defender with attitude they put a strong lock in their goal keep then Messi didnt shine, the same with Colombia.

    July 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  39. Carlos

    Well, there's one fact you are overlooking: Venezuela rocks da house, suckersss!!! Yeah!

    July 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  40. RagnarB

    I'm sorry to say it's not only Argentina and Brazil which are playing in the Copa América. Other teams are also playing to win, and four won to reach the semi-finals. O yeah, they are always the favourites but they do not always win. We have a saing down here in Uruguay, which says that in football it's not enough to deserve to win, but you have to win. I would also like to point out that football nowadays is more about winning than nice playing, so much so that Brazil's "jogo bonito" almost gone. this cup has shown more than ever that football is a team sport, and not just a gathering of stars who feel winners before even playing.

    July 20, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  41. Football@Mania

    Hello, Pedro!!! To precise the Argentina should find a better formation before the 2014 and Messi should response himself in Argentina Jersey!!!!

    July 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  42. pst walter okoni

    sir, football is bcomin more advance, more sophisticatd n more technical evryday. so many countries, clubs n individuals ar workin tirelessly to put their names in history books of football, so u dnt expct names like brazil n argentina to always dominate. am nt suprised at wat is happenin in copa america presently.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  43. kasonde

    Aregentina failed because of three reasons the first is the coach and secound the players. The coach failed to inspire his team and made few coaching errors.

    the media always try to over hype Argentina and messi, is messi is the greatest of all time then why his he a failure at national stage? messi not good enough to be the greates period his no pele or deigo.

    the players were terrible

    Brazil failed simply because the coach so it was traing session for 2014, he left ronaldinho, marcelo, nilmar, and fabiano, while kaka has had injuires it was right to drop him . he made clinical errors and should be blamed 100% for Brazils defeat.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:33 am | Reply
  44. Hernan

    Can't say I like this opinionated reporting style, and NOT only in this article.
    It comes across that the reporter is clueless regarding the sentiment of the Latin-american continent – and hopefully soon the rest of the north – towards (the real)football and this historical tournament.
    He provides a distorted angle view and destructive criticism. I would prefer more research, words chosen with less carelessness and maybe even hop over and feel the passion and exhiliration to try and grasp how deeply it is felt before writing condecending articles in such a big news platform.

    July 22, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  45. Theo

    Yes you have hit the nail on the spot MIDFIELD is were the game is won or lost.Brazil play too defensive and Argentina have no midfield.

    July 23, 2011 at 4:43 am | Reply
  46. Josimars

    I respectfully disagree with the columist about Brazil. Uruguay just won the cup with 2 defensive mildfields in Rios and Diego Perez who are not as good or creative as either Lucas Leiva or Ramirez. The problem with Brazil is not in the middle of the pitch it is in the final third where they lack experience and bite. Neymar is too much of a lightweight and this attitude and approach play stinks. However I guess with age and experience he will improve. He is just 19 give him time. Also Ganso needs to increase his work rate and get more involved in the little things and not just depend on that final killer pass to do damage. He MUST shoot more especially if the front 2 are convered rather than trying to pass the ball to them. Also he just 20 so give him time. Finally Alexander pato is an excellent finisher but he needs to move around more lile Diego Forlan. Even when Forlan was not scoring he never stood still waiting for balls to come to him the penalty area and be crowded out. He mixed up his approach with a combination of poaching at the penalty area and coming deep and interchanging with the other forwards. Pato too is young and will improve.

    July 25, 2011 at 12:18 am | Reply
  47. Eferaiyena David

    why so much on Messi. In South Africa and even in the Copa America Messi was outstandingly good. There's so much weight on him being the world best. You don't do the same thing and expect different results. Barca and the Argentina National team are different, players too different, both coaches different approach and philosophy. Moreover, he has to play a withdrawn role (Xavi role in Barca) with the national team, and people still expecting the same Barca performance from him. Watch video of Messi in Barca without Xavi & Iniesta then you'll understand that Messi can perform without the duo. Let Pep or other tactically sound coach handle this Argentine team, I bet you, you'll see a different Messi.

    July 27, 2011 at 10:18 am | Reply
  48. KISHORE DASGUPTA

    I am one of the great fan of Brazil Team and naturally very much upset for Brazil's defeat in Copa America Football tournament. I can't tolerate Brazil's defeat at any cost. During the World Cup Football I was very tensed for Brazil's win and ultimately they exits from World cup.

    I was very much sure that Brazil will win Copa America Football tournament as because a group of talented footballer in this team,
    but their few footballers has not been given chance by the Coach. This is the problem with all the country. Every team dominated by the Coach and every footballer shall abide by his decision and if any one opposes, he will kick out from the team and due to which ultimately the team will suffer.

    Everybody knows that a good team should be selected to gather the Trophy and if they failed to do so, they will not be able to win the Trophy.

    The people of every country expect to win the Trophy by the footballer, and if it happens they enjoy very much.

    July 28, 2011 at 9:59 am | Reply
  49. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Planning and strategy matters. Uruguay, Paraguay and such other smaller Davids have toppled giant Goliaths through sheer planning and meticulous executions of their plans. It's a new trend in modern day football.

    July 29, 2011 at 8:52 am | Reply
  50. JLenny

    BRAZIL IS THE BEST!!! NEYMAR IS THE BEST!!!!

    July 30, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  51. Capitan Justicia

    Brasil sucks! Their time has passed! Good job Uruguay....campeones!!

    August 1, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Reply
  52. kiwi

    If you are looking for answers to Brazils loss.......................Look at Robhino.

    When the PENALTIES came - he was nowhere to be seen.

    If you have a penalty shootout - you put your sharpshooters up first - not your goalkeeper or defender!!!.

    They missed ALL 4 --- what a rubbish team. If you cant get 1 from 12 yards out - then go home!.

    August 2, 2011 at 11:18 am | Reply
  53. dave

    "Now as much as you can say that he has played badly for his country, I don’t agree. He tries just as hard as he does for Barcelona and he is just as influential.

    The problem is he doesn’t score, and this happens because he constantly has to drop deep to get the ball and never gets it in a position where he can hit the back of the net."

    I AGREE WITH THE WRITER. Messi has been fantastic for Argentina but because he doesn't score people assume he is terrible. Argentina was awful at this copa America. They were top heavy but horrible in other areas.
    First of all, there defense was horrendous, this is sad especially for a country that gave us the likes of Roberto Ayala. The new defensive crop were terrible maybe that's why Batista had to play with 3 defensive midfielders at times in Ever Banega, Masch and Cambiasso this meant that there was hardly any service for Messi. The Argentine midfield was very supbar in this tournament but a lot of people blame Messi.

    August 2, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Reply
  54. Sam

    Messi is currently the best football player. But he is not a Maradona who can carry a team on his back and take them to the title. I feel he is more of a forward than midfielder. He needs help from his teammates. Under right system and with quality teammates, he can be unstoppable as evidenced in Barcelona. It is foolish to expect him to be do it all like all-time greats Maradona or even Zidane.

    August 3, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  55. FELIX

    Pple said that messi is world best,he's not any world best the only world best we know is (christian ronaldo)dat went to another club out of england still delivers,mess should go to england to prove his world best)only ronaldo we knows,messi to prove your self go to england.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:52 am | Reply
  56. andrew

    yeah, serious questions must be asked going forward. Argentina deserves particular scrutiny. messi hsnt shone under several managers but the fact that they use nationals for the job could be a drawback.

    August 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  57. Theo Pickles

    We are two weeks out from the Rugby World Cup. Warm up matches are being played and final teams announced. The third largest sporting event in the world and no mention at all on CNN. Pick up the real sports news CNN there is more to world sport than soccer.

    August 26, 2011 at 11:29 am | Reply

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