Victory over Bolivia may have been a hell of a lot easier than it was over Chile in Santiago but Argentina were once more led by their captain and the world’s best. The team performance tailed off again after half-time but with a third consecutive qualification victory, it was mission accomplished for Gerardo Martino’s side. The 2-0 win over Bolivia in Córdoba was just about as comfortable as it could get and so we take a look at the player ratings….
Sergio Romero – 6
Such was the lack of threat posed by Bolivia, it is difficult to think of any meaningful involvement for Sergio Romero.
Gabriel Mercado – 7.5
The unlikely goal scorer in Santiago, repeated the act in Córdoba to make it two goals in three international appearances and perhaps cement his place in Gerardo Martino’s side. Virtually nothing to do defensively but Mercado got forward well and in addition to his goal, produced a couple of dangerous crosses. The River defender is hardly a long-term fix at full-back but has shown himself to be an excellent option.
Martín Demichelis – 6
Demichelis made his 50th Argentina appearance in the victory and will not have had an easier night. The Manchester City defender was virtually a spectator and it is perhaps a convenient time for Martino to call time on his international career.
Javier Pinola – 6.5
Nothing to do defensively but Pinola showed flashes of his attacking intentions and his comfort on the ball as he darted out of the backline to join the attack.
Marcos Rojo – 6
Marcos Rojo only really excels at left-back in those games where Argentina are forced to defend and so on Monday night with the freedom to get forward, the former Estudiantes defender struggled. Eager to join the attack on a couple of occasions it was a shame the ball fell to him and not someone more proficient in the final third.
Lucas Biglia – 5.5
Not Biglia’s best game in an Argentina shirt but perhaps more the fault of Martino for naming such a conservative midfield three against a packed Bolivian defence. The Lazio midfielder poked a shot wide in the first half when he perhaps should have scored but overall didn’t add a great deal to Argentina’s attack.
Javier Mascherano – 6
With such little shielding of the back four required, Mascherano had a pretty easy evening. What play did need breaking up, El Jefecito did and his passing was efficient.
Éver Banega – 7
The one player from the midfield who was able to link up with the attack and aside from winning the penalty, Banega was unfortunate not to be on the scoresheet himself. His shot in the opening seconds cannoned off the bar and his general play in the Bolivian half was decent.
Lionel Messi – 8.5
Messi’s 50th goal for Argentina and the closing in on Gabriel Batistuta’s record will take the headlines but that aside it was another performance to highlight just how La Albiceleste missed him and how he operates on another level to anyone else. A couple of delightful runs almost created a few more goals and with a bit more luck, Messi may have marked his 500th career goal.
Gonzalo Higuaín – 7.5
Higuaín wasn’t able to get the goal that his international career needs after the disappointment of the Copa América but Pipita showed a good all-round game. A good pass in the opening seconds should have created a goal for Di María and after the misfortune of seeing his smart lob cleared off the line, the Napoli striker had the presence of mind to square for Mercado. His link-up play, movement and work rate were excellent and probably deserved more reward.
Ángel Di María – 5
An eventful opening half hour for El Fideo. Should have scored after 7 seconds, produced a couple of great moments but then was injured and after struggling on was eventually replaced by Ángel Correa.
Ángel Correa – 7
Excellent introduction from Correa, who immediately appeared in-tune with Higuaín and Messi in attack. Perhaps starting Correa and dropping Di María into the midfield, similar to how Sabella had Argentina line up, would be a decent option going forward.
Sergio Agüero and Augusto Fernández – Late subs that had no time to make any impact.