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Copa America

Five things we learned as Argentina trounced Bolivia in Copa America

Published at :June 29, 2021 at 10:40 PM
Modified at :June 29, 2021 at 10:40 PM
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Sudesh Baniya

Lionel Messi scored a brace while Papu Gomez and Lautaro Martinez contributed one goal each in the victory.

After starting Copa America 2021 with a draw, Argentina secured their third consecutive win on Tuesday early morning. The Albiceleste beat Bolivia by a convincing scoreline of 4-1. In a game where everything seemed to be working in Argentina's favor, Lionel Messi's brace was supported by goals from Papu Gomez and Lautaro Martinez.

With a victory in their final Group A match, Argentina advance to the quarterfinals as table toppers while Bolivia were knocked out of the tournament. Here are five things we learned as Argentina beat Bolivia in the Copa America.

5. Lionel Messi stars again

Messi scored a brace vs Bolivia

Lionel Messi started Copa America 2021 on a high, scoring an amazing freekick past Claudio Bravo. Despite repeating similar performances against Paraguay and Uruguay, Messi failed to be on the scoresheet. Against Bolivia, Messi netted twice while registered an assist as well.

Argentina looked crisp from the beginning against Bolivia and it was Messi who pulled out an assist from tight space for Papu Gomez. Following the assist, the 34-year-old made it 3-0 in quick succession as Argentina led by 3-0 in the first half.

Messi was more involved in Argentina's play and almost everything went through him. He registered 93 touches in the game, the most by him in this tournament.

4. Argentina's free-flowing football

One of the main reasons behind Argentina's performance was their relatively different approach. Scaloni deployed Messi as a No. 10, just behind Sergio Aguero in space. The Argentinian attack transitioned well and seldom looked to be matched by the Bolivian defense.

In particular, Lionel Scaloni's side found spaces in midfield to penetrate and enter the final third. Unlike their games against Uruguay and Chile, the side was more on the offensive half. Argentina took the lead early on and built on it throughout the game. As a result, Argentina scored four – unlike the previous three matches where they looked to defend after scoring one.

As a result, the Albiceleste registered 18 shots, 13 of which were on target. Argentina looked to be the superior side throughout the match and the statistics seemed to support the theory as well.

3. Papu Gomez: The late bloomer

Gomez has been a late bloomer for the national side

Papu Gomez is not a new name for Atalanta, Serie A or Sevilla fans. However, the playmaker has not been as involved in the national colors. The midfielder has only made five appearances for Argentina so far, most of them coming from the bench.

However, in a relatively easy group finale, he started and replicated his performance from the Paraguay game. After moving cleverly into the box, the 33-year-old was found by Lionel Messi, who set him up to score the opener in the sixth minute. In addition to that, Gomez also completed 52 of his 53 attempted passes, playing a crucial role in Argentina's retention in the final third.

2. Carlos Lampe's resistance

The only standout performer for Bolivia on the night was goalkeeper Carlos Lampe. The Bolivian custodian has been impressive against South American heavyweights in this edition of the tournament and averages eight saves per game.

Lampe managed nine saves against Argentina on Tuesday morning, yet conceded four. However, things could have been worse Bolivia if not for his performance. Except for one consolation goal, the rest of Bolivia's squad could not match Lampey's exceptional performance in front of the goal.

1. Can Argentina win it this time?

Despite having the likes of Uruguay and Chile in their group, Argentina have qualified for the knockouts as table toppers. Unlike the previous editions, signs of improvement have emerged in every department, including defense.

This time around, however, the Albiceleste have shown what they were lacking in the previous instances – collective team effort. With the golden generation approaching their end, Lionel Scaloni has managed to get things ticking. Argentina looked solid against Bolivia and they had displayed similar performances against Chile and Uruguay. Despite not having as many star figures in the line-up as compared to 2015 or 2016, the side looks better because of right combinations.

An international trophy finally looks closer to Argentina's grasp and the only significant threat looks to be Brazil, who they should face in the finals if things go the right way for both heavyweights.