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30 stats for Messi's 30th birthday

Barcelona
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Argentina needs to close the gap

Argentina came up against a tough opponent, but there are some errors to be rectified, such as too much space between defense and attack.

The quality of their opponents was one of the reasons why Argentina weren't delighted with their opening match. In this respect, the match against Bosnia was similar to Brazil's victory against Croatia.

- Marcotti: Sabella's tactics need a rethink

- Kelly: Argentina do enough to beat Bosnia

- Duarte: More test ahead for Messi

But if the Argentines still wish to be seen as potential world title winners, they have some important aspects to rectify. Their main problem was too much space between defense and attack. Argentina head coach Alejandro Sabella's halftime changes improved the team, but didn't help to reduce this space.

From the start of the second half, Lionel Messi showed signs of being able to decide the match, and he did just that 20 minutes into the second stanza with an incredible run and a perfect finish.

Argentina kicked off their 2014 World Cup campaign with three points versus Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Argentina kicked off their 2014 World Cup campaign with three points versus Bosnia-Herzegovina.

But his positioning still wasn't ideal. Messi picked up the ball facing the midfielders, which even happened in the build-up to the goal. At his best, Messi tends to position himself on the shoulder of the defensive midfielders.

Sabella has given him the freedom to play and position himself where he wants. It's a case of finding the right spot. That's when Messi will be able to prove decisive in more matches.

He may even be able to balance out the tactical problems that Sabella needs to iron out.

Paulo Vinicius Coelho ("PVC") is a veteran Brazilian sports journalist who has covered four World Cups and five Champions League finals. He is a football specialist, ESPN commentator in Brazil and columnist for Folha de S. Paulo, a popular Brazilian daily. He has written six books, including "Bola Fora," a history of the exodus of Brazilian players. Follow him on Twitter @pvcespn.