Legendary Argentina striker, Gabriel Batistuta, has warned the Albiceleste 2018 FIFA World Cup-bound squad that it will be dangerous to rely solely on Lionel Messi for success just as they did during their World Cup qualifiers.
Argentina managed just seven points from a possible 24 without Messi in their preliminary campaign. With him they secured 21 points from a possible 30, culminating in a 3-1 victory in Ecuador that ensured Argentina didn’t miss out on the World Cup party.
Speaking to FIFA.com, Batistuta who scored two hat-tricks at two World Cups (against Greece in USA 1994 and Jamaica in France 1998), posited that over-reliance on Messi might be disastrous for Argentina especially against the quality of teams they will be up against.
“Messi is a player who can play in any team,” said Batistuta. “I’d always want him in my team, but depending on a player doesn’t seem fair to me, for with the level of the national teams we are going to face at the World Cup, depending on a player is very dangerous.”
Batistuta who scored the only goal when Argentina beat the Super Eagles of Nigeria 1-0 in the group stage at the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup, said Gonzalo Higuian must lead the attack at this year’s World Cup.
“For me, the number nine should be Higuain, and [I think] the coach thinks the same. There’s a lot of pressure on him – every touch has to be a goal. Let’s hope that in the World Cup everyone will go in.
“There are other number nines that can give guarantees to the coach. There’s no problem in having so many options. It’s a nice problem, an abundance that not many countries have.”
Argentina are in Group D at Russia 2018, alongside debutant Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.