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Football: Maradona 'heir', son-in-law hold key for Argentina

14 july 2011, 13:06
0
Copa America Group B first round football match. ©AFP
Copa America Group B first round football match. ©AFP
Argentina came to the Copa America with coach Sergio Batista admitting they were 'blessed' with five centre forwards, AFP reports.

But in belatedly accepting that world player of the year Lionel Messi is not really one of them and that Sergio 'Kun' Aguero definitely is Batista appears to have stumbled on the key to a potential record 15th Copa title.

Against Bolivia and Colombia, the albiceleste's top-heavy forward line ran around to little effect, scoring a grand total of one goal - from Aguero, on as a substitute.

Recognising the need for change, Batista made the difficult decision to drop crowd favourite Carlos Tevez, put his faith in Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain with Messi playing off them, and sowed the seeds for a rampaging win over Costa Rica which finally saw Messi start to show his best creative form.

The jury may still be out on Higuain, who missed a hatful of chances in the 3-0 win. But the trident of forwards from Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid appears to comprise the ingredients of a recipe to savour as they head into a quarter-final with Uruguay.

Messi is delighted to have Aguero, Diego Maradona's son-in-law and a mooted replacement for Tevez at Manchester City, in the side as the pair go back a long way, having won the 2008 Olympic tournament together.

In 18 internationals in tandem, they have netted 14 goals - eight for Aguero and six for Maradona "heir" Messi. Those matches have harvested 13 wins and just two losses - away World Cup qualifiers to Chile and Paraguay.

"We complement each other really well," says Aguero, whose Kun nickname comes from a perceived resemblance to Japanese cartoon character Kum Kum.

After netting a brace against Costa Rica, Aguero eulogised Messi.

"Wasn't Leo great? With everyone right behind us we're moving forward. Come on Argentina," he enthused on his Twitter account:

Messi promised after the Costa Rica win that "now another Copa is starting" after the false start of the opening two matches.

The man himself was keeping the low profile he much prefers Wednesday after Tuesday being excused a full practice match workout.

With Aguero shouldering goalscoring responsabilities so effectively - the 23-year-old now has 13 for 30 appearances - Messi, the first player to score 50 goals in a Spanish season, can happily slip into the role of provider.

There, Spanish daily El Pais feels he is essentially being asked "to do his own thing and that of (Barcelona teammates) Xavi and (Andres) Iniesta within the same game."

With his exquisite passing against the Costa Ricans, Messi, the paper opined "spent the game handing out sweets" for Aguero, son-in-law of Diego Maradona.

The only sour note was the media and fans noting that Messi, who holds a Spanish as well as an Argentinian passport, still doesn't sing the national anthem - though he is not alone in that.

Aguero dismisses the issue is irrelevant.

"He may not sing the anthem - but he would lay his life on the line for the national side."

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