The cold war between the Argentina’s press and the national soccer team continues to rage ahead of this week’s CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying matches. Upon arriving in Buenos Aires on Monday, players ranging from Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero to Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo declined to speak with the press waiting at the airport, following a pattern of no communication established months ago.
Reports also state that team captain Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano will be avoiding the press upon their arrival in the Argentinian capital, going straight from the runway to the team’s training facility. Argentina coach Eduardo Bauza told journalists that he will attempt to change the squad’s mind about the press boycott, but as of now, it will continue.
The animosity between team and press started back in November, when a report was circulated that claimed that winger Ezequiel Lavezzi was smoking marijuana before a qualifying match against Colombia in the city of San Juan. Team captain Lionel Messi read a statement following the Albiceleste’s 3-0 win over the cafeteros, stating that the entire squad would not speak to journalist until further notice.
This battle with the press is just one of the things on the Argentine team’s collective mind; they currently sit right on the cusp of qualification, and the two matches this week (vs. Chile on Thursday and vs. Bolivia on Tuesday) could go a long way in deciding whether the South American powerhouse will qualify with ease, go to a playoff game, or even miss out entirely.