Argentina are not Lionel Messi and 10 players - Edgardo Bauza
Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza has said that the Albiceleste are not just Lionel Messi and has warned the rest of the players that they need to step up their game even after a 3-0 win over Colombia.
Lionel Messi's free kick on Tuesday helped Argentina give their World Cup qualification hopes a timely boost and move them from sixth to fifth place in the CONMEBOL table.
The top four teams qualify automatically for Russia 2018 and the fifth-placed side enter a playoff against the top Oceania side.
Argentina host Chile in March and Bauza told Fox Sports in Argentina that he has warned his players not to read too much into the win over Colombia.
"In '86 we had [Diego] Maradona and in '78 we had [Mario] Kempes and now we have Messi," he said. "We must take advantage of the fact that they are Argentines and that they play for us. But I don't think the national team is Messi and 10 others as many people say.
"He is a fundamental player, he throws the other teams off balance and he is very important but if he doesn't have players by his side who work for him, it is very difficult to win matches."
After seeing his side thrashed 3-0 by Brazil last week, Bauza made three changes with Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta among those to make way. Bauza also chose Atletico Mineiro forward Lucas Pratto over Gonzalo Higuain or Sergio Aguero up front with big results.
Bauza said he felt the victory over Colombia helped erase the Nov. 11 loss to Brazil, but insisted the team has much work to do.
"This victory does not cloud my thinking. I am happy because we won, but we did not find what we were looking for," he said. "This match doesn't provide more than a passing moment of happiness because we know that in March we have complicated games against Chile and Bolivia."
Bauza also said that he is petitioning the federation to play the March qualifier at La Bombonera so that the team does not have to travel as much. Monday's flight to San Juan saw turbulence and Messi was so sick that he had to be attended by medical staff upon arrival.
"We must keep in mind that these players are coming off 14-hour flights to get here. So, I have asked the directors to allow us to play in Buenos Aires to avoid another long trip," he said. "One of the options is Boca's stadium. We are looking into whether we can do this from a rules or institutional standpoint. I spoke with the players about it and they have no problem with it."
Finally, Bauza said he believes Argentina have a team capable of winning the World Cup.
"With these players, of course [we can win World Cup]," he said. "We are going to have more time to work together. Defensively, with just two days and a few videos, we improved greatly. Imagine what we can do with more time."
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