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Argentina women’s team players critical of coaches after roster changes

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The Argentine national team is facing controversy after making a host of changes to its roster for the 2019 Pan American games despite a solid showing in the World Cup earlier this summer.

Most notably, 29-year-old Estefania Banini, who captained the side at the World Cup, was left off the roster. She lashed out on social media, claiming on Instagram that she was left off after making internal comments critical of the coaching staff and trying to improve the team’s ability to compete.

“No rest, not injured, permission from my club, I have enough to be in the national team,” she wrote. “From 5 years old I trained to defend the blue and white, fighting for my place equally without discrimination. The coaching staff decided to leave me out…because we have our differences, they decide to put an end to my dream of defending the shirt.”

Banini goes on to explain that she wants coaches “with enough experience we can learn from” and who can help grow the game in their country. She said what they don’t want is something they experienced at the World Cup – “being told ‘just defend because we don’t want to concede 11’ when going out to play.”

Other players left off the roster for the Pan American games are Ruth Bravo and Lorena Benitez, both of whom were starters at the World Cup less than a month ago. Bravo, along with Belen Potassa, posted similarly critical comments on their own social media accounts after being left off the roster, with much of the content word-for-word to what Banini wrote.

Argentina performed well in the group stage of the World Cup, nearly advancing in the final seconds of the group stage before a 3-3 draw with Scotland saw them fall just short of passing Japan into a qualifying spot. They managed a 0-0 draw with Japan in the opening match and fell to England by a close 1-0 scoreline.

Banini has been outspoken in the past, criticizing the Argentinian federation back in 2014 for not supporting the women’s game enough. With her most recent comments potentially costing her a place in the team, some of her teammates had her back. Soledad Jaimes and Florencia Bonsegundo, also both starters in the World Cup, resigned their places on the Pan American Games roster in solidarity with their teammates, believing them to be unfairly treated.

“While 18 teammates pack their bags for the Pan American Games, I decided to withdraw from the roster,” Bonsegundo wrote in her own Instagram post. “Today I have to take a step forward for this struggle that we all started and that few have the courage to do. I understand that in this way I am protecting you more [the fans] because I know that in a future with properly trained players, Argentina may be at the level of the world powers! I’m still dreaming of a country with greater equality, without discrimination and where the voice of women is taken into account with the same weight as that of a man”

Argentina was drawn into a group with Panama, Costa Rica, and Peru for the Pan American games, with their first match set for July 28.

Copa America team of the tournament announced

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The 2019 Copa America team of the tournament has been announced, and Lionel Messi hasn’t been included in the best XI.

Hmm. I wonder why…

Messi slammed CONMEBOL officials and referees for “corruption” and said the tournament was “fixed” for Brazil to win it.

That led to South America’s governing body releasing a statement defending its officials and a ban is likely coming up for Mr. Messi. So, yeah, he’s not in the team of the tournament and his one goal in six games could also suggest why that was the case.

The Selecao did win the tournament, beating surprise finalists Peru 3-1 in the final, as the hosts were dominant throughout.

Five Brazilian players feature in the team of the tournament with Alisson, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Arthur and Everton all included. But Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino both had very good tournaments for the hosts, while Alexis Sanchez also had his moments before he suffered an injury.

Peru’s Miguel Trauco and Paolo Guerrero were also in the best XI, while James Rodriguez from Colombia, Leandro Paredes from Argentina, Chile’s Arturo Vidal and Uruguay’s Jose Gimenez are all the lone representatives from their nations.

Below is the team of the tournament in full.


2019 Copa America Team of the Tournament

Goalkeeper: Alisson
Defenders: Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Jose Gimenez, Miguel Trauco
Midfielders: Arthur, Arturo Vidal, Leando Paredes
Forwards: Everton, James Rodriguez, Paolo Guerrero

Messi: Copa America ‘corrupt’ and ‘fixed’ for Brazil

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Lionel Messi received his first red card in 14 years on Saturday, and it was just the second of his glittering career.

The Argentina and Barcelona star didn’t accept his sending off quietly. At all.

Speaking to reporters after Argentina beat Chile 2-1 to seal third place at the 2019 Copa America in Brazil, Messi revealed that he believes the referees and CONMEBOL aren’t being fair and that everything is set up for Brazil to win the final against Peru on Sunday.

“We don’t have to be part of this corruption,” Messi said. “They have showed us a lack of respect throughout this tournament. Sadly, the corruption, the referees, they don’t allow people to enjoy football, they ruined it a bit. I think the cup is fixed for Brazil. I hope that the VAR and the referees have nothing to do in this final and that Peru can compete because they have the team to do so although I think it’s difficult.”

Messi’s lost his cool along with Chile’s Gary Medel in a heated confrontation which involved plenty of shoulder barging, but both players deserved probably a yellow card each and a stern talking too. The red card was harsh and Messi is feeling rightly aggrieved.

But he seems to have taken it a little too far with these comments, as a statement from CONMEBOL (which didn’t name Messi directly) said that “unfounded accusations have been launched that lack the truth and question the integrity of the Copa America. These accusations represent a lack of respect for the competition, all the participating players and the hundreds of professionals of CONMEBOL.”

You can’t help but feel that over 15 years of close calls, and ultimate failure, for Argentina are weighing heavy on Messi’s shoulders. They’ve now lost in a World Cup final, three Copa America finals and a Copa America semifinal with Messi, who has come out of international retirement, as their main main.

Until he wins some silverware on the international stage, those questions will always be asked about how good he actually was compared to Pele, Diego Maradona and even Cristiano Ronaldo who have all led their nations to silverware.

Messi, 32, probably has one last crack at winning the World Cup with Argentina in 2022 before he calls it quits. The clock is ticking and Messi is feeling the pressure, with his presence at the 2020 Copa America, joint hosted by Argentina and Colombia, now far from certain after this outburst.

Messi sent off for first time in 14 years for… this?!?

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It was the rematch many wanted, just not in the appropriate venue.

Argentina and Chile met for placement in their third-straight Copa America, but this time it was for third place and not the final.

So, in an odd twist for a third-place game, the greatest player in the world was sent off for the first time in 14 years.

[ MORE: USMNT-Mexico preview ]

Tempestuous early and then firmly in Argentina’s hands at 2-0 after less than 22 minutes, the match hit a new flashpoint as Messi and Gary Medel were both sent off the pitch by referee Mario Diaz de Vivar after a perceived head-to-head incident between the Argentine captain and Chile’s hatchet man.

It was Messi’s first red since an Argentina friendly against Hungary on Aug. 17, 2005. He has never been sent off for Barcelona.

And are we being naive if we say the twin red cards were awarded for a whole lot of nothing? Astoundingly, VAR reportedly had a look at the fouls and said, “Yeah, sure. Keep it.” You be the judge:

 

Chile won as hosts in 2015 as well as in the United States-based 2016 Centenario, both after 0-0 results led to penalty kicks.

The 0-0 was eliminated early on Saturday, as Lionel Messi took a quick free kick to Sergio Aguero. The Man City man danced around the keeper to slot for 1-0.

This turn from Dybala, however is the real beauty. Spurs target Giovanni Lo Celso slid a pass between two defenders, and his Juventus receiver brought the ball in front of him with perfect touch.

Could Messi, Aguero continue playing for Argentina?

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There’s still the third-place game to play, but in effect, Argentina’s Copa America is over, and now the national team can turn its attention towards qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

But there will be at least one major question hanging over the Albiceleste over the next few months. Will Lionel Messi play for Argentina again? And what about other veterans, such as Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Nicolas Otamendi?

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

For Messi, when asked about his future after the match, he seemed like he hadn’t made up his mind.

“Yes, I do not know,” Messi told reporters after Brazil’s 2-0 win on Tuesday over Argentina. “I enjoyed myself very well with this group. If I have to help, I’m going to do it, there’s a nice team to grow and if I can help from wherever I am and accompany them, I’ll be there.”

For Aguero, he was much clearer. He’ll always be there if called.

“I am available to follow, if they call me,” Aguero said. “I will never say no to the national team.”

Messi is now 32-years old, while Aguero is 31-years old. By 2022, the pair will be 35 and 34, respectively, certainly not at their physical peak. And yet, it’s likely that others won’t take their place by then and force them out of the national team.

For Messi, he’s had multiple occassions where he’s “retired” from the national team. The first came after the 2016 Copa America Centenario in the U.S., when he said he wouldn’t play for Argentina again due to administrative mishaps during the tournament, as well as exhaustion after three straight years of losing in the final.

After the 2018 World Cup, in which Argentina struggled and was run over by France in the round of 16, Messi again took a break from the national team, but came back this spring for a pair of friendlies before this summer’s Copa America.

Aguero sits a few caps shy of 100, while Messi is well above that mark, but both players’ club teams will surely welcome a break for at least one season to allow the players to focus on the club campaigns fully, and not have to travel across the Atlantic Ocean for games.

An Argentina without Messi in it will look much different, but that future could be here as early as this weekend.