Either there were smelling salts in the locker room, or Argentina doubled up on their coffee. Either way, Lionel Messi and company woke up and took charge in Copa America play Monday night.
The final game in group play was a litmus test for Argentina star, Lionel Messi. The master of flair and service had fallen on some dismal play as of late.
His doldrums transferred to the usual steady Argentina side. A loss would have sent them out of the Copa America far before the job was done.
Instead, Messi and crew exploded in their match with Costa Rica. When it was all done, La Albiceleste took down Costa Rica 3-0, Messi gaining two assists in the game.
He flourished in the midfield. The flair was there, but more importantly, so was the confidence. The crisp deliveries were there on his crosses, finding Sergio Aguero perfectly a couple of times.
It is clear now, where Messi goes, so does the rest of the club. When he was driving with confidence, the rest of the team was invigorated.
It is evident now more than ever, Messi is more than the motor that drives Argentina, he is the wheels, brakes and oil as well.
Argentina will see one of either; Chile, Peru or Uruguay in the quarterfinals. They need to expect that either one of those games will be far more difficult than Costa Rica was.
Due to FIFA sanctions, Costa Rica joins Mexico in bringing a largely U-23 roster to the Copa America. They do not want North American teams to sandbag their rosters in anticipation of Copa America. They would like the best to continue to play in their own continental tournaments.
No matter the quality of the opponent, if Messi and Argentina play with the same flourish, there is nary a team that can beat them.