Three games in to the South American under-20 championships and it is difficult to say how much we have learnt about this Argentina side. This evening’s match with Peru ended in the same way as the opener against Ecuador with a glut of goals but with worrying signs of carelessness defensively. Paraguay showed that with a level of discipline and organisation this side might struggle to create goals but two gifts from Peru today meant that Grondona’s side didn’t need to address this particular issue.
Peru will have watched the Paraguay match and no doubt thought that if they could keep the match tight they could upset Argentina but a goalkeeping howler by Daniel Prieto after 23 minutes ended any hopes of that. Five minutes later it got worse for Peru when Brian Bernaola flicked Tomás Martínez’s free kick into his own net and with the two-goal advantage, the match opened up.
Ángel Correa smashed in a third after further hesitancy in the Peru defence and when Giovani Simeone added a fourth before the break, the match was over. All four goals came as a result of Peruvian errors and so perhaps the 11 goals scored in the tournament give a false sense of potency from this Argentina attack. Ecuador afforded Correa and his side far too much space and Peru gifted them goals. Once Argentina lead and their opponents need to take more risks there is enough pace and skill to punish them on the break but the real tests lie against better schooled defences.
In the second half, Argentina once again exhibited a defensive frailty that allowed Peru a route back into the game momentarily and illustrated weaknesses that against stronger sides will be punished. Leonardo Rolón’s back pass was wayward and José Gonzales-Vigil skipped away from Emanuel Mammana and Augusto Batalla to pull one back. Thirty seconds later, Peru had the ball in the net again, this time Luís da Silva, and it looked as though Argentina could throw away what appeared to be an unassailable lead.
However, recent Villarreal signing, Leonardo Suárez thumped in a fifth and eased the nerves that were creeping in. The tricky Suárez impressed after he came on and he turned provider in the closing stages when his cross from the left was headed in by Gio Simeone, for his second brace of the tournament.
With the final match against Bolivia remaining Argentina look set to qualify for the final stage but there is plenty of room for improvement. In addition to cutting out the defensive lapses, Humberto Grondona must find a way of utilising the attacking options available to him, particularly breaking down sides who drop deeper.