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Messi entertains in Argentina’s 3-0 win over Bolivia

By Editor
16 June 2016   |   12:10 am
The Argentine superstar had come on as a second-half substitute, much to the delight of the Century Link Field crowd of 45,753, and had yet to entertain except for a blistering free kick that grazed the far post.
Messi dribbles Danny Bejarano of Bolivia during the 2016 Copa America Centenario Group D match at Century Link Field on June 14, in Seattle, Washington. Photo: Getty Images

Messi dribbles Danny Bejarano of Bolivia during the 2016 Copa America Centenario Group D match at Century Link Field on June 14, in Seattle, Washington. Photo: Getty Images

The Argentine superstar had come on as a second-half substitute, much to the delight of the Century Link Field crowd of 45,753, and had yet to entertain except for a blistering free kick that grazed the far post.

So, with the ball at his feet and a persistent Bolivian defender trying his best to mark him, Messi dribbled left, stopped and spun to his right.

Then he went left again before changing direction one more time. Except now, Messi stopped and stared into the eyes of his opponent.

The crowd roared. Messi, with his left foot casually resting on the ball, then dribbled to his left, passed to a teammate and ran upfield. He was done toying with the helpless opposition.

The sequence summed up what Argentina has done to the competition in this Copa America so far. Messi and the Argentines have been so superior and so effortless in establishing their dominance and cementing their status as tournament favorite.

Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Bolivia was more formality than competitive match, as Argentina scored three goals in the first 32 minutes to secure the top spot in Group D and a quarterfinal match against Group C runner-up Venezuela on Saturday in Foxborough, Mass.. Even though La Albilceleste won all three group games by a combined score of 10-1, head coach Gerardo Martino will only talk about improving from the previous game.

That edict even applies to Messi, who missed Argentina’s first game due to his tax fraud trial in Spain and has slowly worked his way back into the team. But that was just one reason why Martino was going to have Messi play in a meaningless match.

“People want to see him all over the world,” Martino said. “They want to see him and he has to deal with that. Sometimes he has to play and sometimes he has to be on the bench. But he has to fulfill and play for the fans. He understands that and he has to live with that.”

The night began with Argentina’s other big names grabbing the spotlight. Martino made six changes to his starting lineup from last Friday’s 5-0 demolition of Panama, rolling out three new attackers in support of striker Gonzalo Higuain. Two of the three scored in the first 15 minutes to help the Argentines take control.

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