Costa Rica clash do-or-die for Argentina

Copa America hosts Argentina must win their final group game against Costa Rica on Monday to avoid elimination from the competition.Sergio Batista’s side have endured a frustrating start to the tournament on home soil, drawing their opener with Bolivia 1-1, followed by a goalless draw against Colombia.

They are third in Group A, one point behind second placed Costa Rica and two back from group leaders Columbia.

Wednesday’s stalemate saw Argentine fans turning their backs on the players and booing them off the pitch in Sante Fe.

“No football player likes it when a game ends and you leave the fans with a bad feeling and a bad feeling with ourselves for not playing how we’d like,” Argentina captain Javier Mascherano said.

“Also when the fans insult you or sing aggressive songs, no one likes that.”

“But it is their right and I repeat, we are aware of the situation, and we are also aware that it is on us to change it.”

“And starting Monday we have to start a new Copa America.”

World players of the year Lionel Messi has received the brunt of the criticism in Argentina, where fans had hoped to see their star player fire the team to Copa America glory for the first time since 1993.

The Barcelona man has had a limited influence in the hosts’ first two matches, but club and national teammate Mascherano and the rest of the squad have been quick to defend him.

“Really, on an individual level we are all not performing our best,” Mascherano said.

“And this obviously is affecting the entire team.”

“But that doesn’t mean it is Messi’s fault that Argentina is playing poorly.”

“On the contrary, I think collectively we have been affected by the poor individual performances.”

Argentina meet Costa Rica in Cordoba on Monday, while Colombia take on Bolivia in Sante Fe.