Halftime: Argentina 0 – Bolivia 0

Halftime in La Plata and, despite Argentina’s luxury of attacking riches, Bolivia have so far managed to stifle the hosts. Argentina have dominated possession and gotten forward well but been unable to capitalize on their limited scoring opportunities.

In the 31st minute, Carlos Tevez saw his low shot well saved by Bolivian keeper Arias. A few minutes later, Argentina’s midfielder Esteban Cambiasso should have opened the scoring when Arias spilled a cross into his path but the ball bounced out of play for a goal kick.

Bolivia have been happy to sit back and absorb the pressure. Their counter-attacks have not been effective and Marcelo Moreno has been isolated up front. The team seems happy to settle for a 0-0 draw but might grow more adventurous in the second half.

Argentina's Messi takes on Flores of Bolivia in the 2011 Copa America's Opening match in La Plata (credit: Felipe Dana / AP)

Argentina have had positive moments, especially when their star and talisman Leo Messi dribbles from midfield right into the heart of the Bolivian defense. Messi is  doing a good job feeding through balls to Tevez and  Ezequiel Lavezzi on the wings but is playing so deep that Argentina are operating without a center forward.

Look for Coach Sergio Batista to bring on Diego Milito or Sergio Aguero to give Argentina more of a penalty-box presence.

Bolivia have held firm so far but I think Argentina will overwhelm them in the second half and score a couple of goals.

One thing is for sure: Argentina look much more solid at the back than they did during the 2010 World Cup. Credit to midfielder Cambiasso and right-back Javier Zanetti, back in the team after being inexplicably excluded from the World Cup squad by previous coach Diego Maradona. Why the two were dropped after winning the European Champions League with Internazionale Milan remains a mystery. Argentina are a much stronger side with them on the pitch.

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About Nicholas Nehamas

Journalist and soccer fan. I write on politics, culture, business and sports.
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