Messi waves his magic wand | sports | Hindustan Times
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Messi waves his magic wand

With Barcelona, he is a master at scoring goals at a phenomenal rate - most of them spectacular. But he is also a master creator and coach Sergio Batista allowed him to slip into that role on Monday as scoring duties were shared out between two-goal star Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria.

sports Updated: Jul 12, 2011 23:44 IST

What a difference a day makes. Or rather, what a difference a tactical overhaul makes, as Argentina showed in ripping Costa Rica to shreds.

Released from being a 'number nine', Lionel Messi revelled in being what he really is --- namely, a striker who likes to attack from deeper, leaving real centre forwards in front of him.

Argentina are, as coaches and players past and present have lined up to hammer home in recent days, not Barcelona. But, as Diego Maradona pointed out before the Costa Rica game, that fact - and draws with Bolivia and Colombia - do not mean that Messi is not the greatest footballer on the planet.

With Barcelona, he is a master at scoring goals at a phenomenal rate - most of them spectacular. But he is also a master creator and coach Sergio Batista allowed him to slip into that role on Monday as scoring duties were shared out between two-goal star Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria.

Batista bit the bullet, dropping popular Carlos Tevez and putting Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain up front, allowing Messi to roam where he wanted, waving his wand as the conductor of an orchestra which, as if by magic, is suddenly playing in tune. Messi simply excelled on Monday, leading the dazed Costa Ricans a merry dance, setting up two goals and countless other chances which, had Higuain in particular not been so profligate in his finishing, could have produced a score approaching double figures.

All is forgotten
Messi said the woes of the past week, which had seen fans turn on the side, were forgotten. "Now another Copa is starting,"said Messi. "I want to thank people for getting behind us tonight - we had missed such affection. I want to thank the people of Cordoba for their backing for me and for everybody," Messi said in pointed allusion to the incessant and occasionally brutal criticism of the squad ever since the tournament began.

Batista was able to pronounce himself "very satisfied" as he greeted reporters after the game.