Ar­gentina looks for change in ‘mind­set’ to qual­ify for WCup

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Ar­gentina needs to stop wor­ry­ing. That's eas­ier said than done.

Not even the re­turn of Lionel Messi from a three-game ab­sence man­aged to save Ar­gentina from its lat­est de­feat in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing.

“We have to change our mind­set. To change our mind­set above all, be­cause this team has great play­ers,” Messi said af­ter the 3-0 de­feat to Brazil on Thurs­day.

The play­ers' psy­che ap­pears to have be­come a big hur­dle to over­come af­ter two losses and two draws in its last four games in the South Amer­i­can qual­i­fiers.

“When one's head is not fine, the legs do not re­spond,” Messi said. “We have to think pos­i­tive to change this sit­u­a­tion.”

The path to the next World Cup is get­ting tougher, with Ar­gentina now out of the top four that guar­an­tees di­rect spots at the 2018 World Cup fi­nals in Rus­sia, and even the fifth place that plays an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal play­off.

“We have to (be) men­tally strong. We have no mar­gin of er­ror,” de­fender Pablo Za­baleta said.

Striker Ser­gio Aguero was on the same page, ar­gu­ing the team has to “change the mind­set” for its match against third-placed Colom­bia on Tues­day.

It's not look­ing good for Ar­gentina, with Edgardo Bauza's team now sixth with 16 points in 11 matches.

Many ob­servers be­lieve Ar­gentina is still reel­ing from los­ing three straight fi­nals — the 2014 World Cup, the 2015 Copa Amer­ica in Chile and the Copa Amer­ica Cen­te­nario in the United States ear­lier this year.

Messi, goal­keeper Ser­gio Romero, mid­field­ers Javier Mascher­ano and An­gel Di Maria and strik­ers Gon­zalo Higuain and Aguero were present in all three.

In the cur­rent qual­i­fiers, de­spite hav­ing Messi, Higuain and Aguero, Ar­gentina has scored only 11 goals — less than half of the 26 scored by lead­ers Brazil. Only Bo­livia, with nine goals, has scored less.

Bauza has sug­gested his team gets dis­heart­ened when its op­po­nents score. That's what hap­pened on Thurs­day.

“Af­ter Brazil's first goal, we went to the floor psy­cho­log­i­cally,” said mid­fielder Lu­cas Biglia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.