Argentina player ratings v USA: Messi once again proves too much

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It proved all too easy for Argentina in Houston as the hosts failed to register a single shot on goal and Gerardo Martino’s side cruised into Sunday’s final with the most comfortable of 4-0 wins. Main attraction Lionel Messi’s record breaking golazo obviously stole the show and the Barcelona star was once more virtually unstoppable but there were good performances all over the pitch as La Albiceleste look to end their trophy drought.

Sergio Romero – 6

Sergio Romero has had a few easy nights during his 78 appearances for Argentina but almost none will have been as straight forward as Tuesday night’s semi final. A couple of crosses to claim, perhaps coming off his line to clear his lines but the vital statistic is that the United States didn’t manage a shot on goal in the 90 minutes.

Gabriel Mercado – 6.5

With very little defending to do, Gabriel Mercado didn’t have a great deal to do but tried to get forward and support the attack when he could.

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Nicolás Otamendi – 7

There is no denying that Otamendi and the defence were not stretched in the slightest but the Manchester City centre back was powerful and dominant leaving Clint Dempsey a mere spectator.

Ramiro Funes Mori – 6.5

Another good display from Ramiro Funes Mori, as he continues to prove he belongs at international level. Chris Wondolowski provided no threat during the first half and the Everton defender is always a comfortable passer out of the back line.

Marcos Rojo – 6

Much like Mercado on the opposing flank, Rojo was able to get forward much more than normal but as is often the case his final ball is lacking.

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Augusto Fernández – 7.5

Had it not been for Lucas Biglia’s injury, Augusto Fernández may well have missed out on another major tournament but instead the Atlético Madrid midfielder has been outstanding. A real compliment to the pair of Mascherano and Banega, Augusto understands the role; sits in front of the defence when needed, slots onto the right when Messi comes in field and keeps possession efficiently.

Javier Mascherano – 7

Perhaps the most telling sign that the United States were completely outclassed was the sight of Javier Mascherano tearing into the penalty box looking to get on the end of a Lionel Messi through ball. As always El Jefecito was the physical presence needed to protect the back four but he was able to contribute more to the attack too in Houston.

Éver Banega – 8

Rapidly establishing himself as the brain of the side everything flows through Banega. The Inter Milan midfielder links together the possession and has a remarkable understanding with fellow Rosarino Lionel Messi. The post-match stats suggested that Banega completed 102 passes from an attempted 104 which is utterly staggering even in a game as one-sided as this.

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Lionel Messi – 9

Another record, another match winning performance and no more superlatives that can be used to describe the greatest player of all time. The pass for Lavezzi to open the scoring was precise, the free kick to double the advantage was brutal and his second assist was selfless. This Copa América has seen Messi have an impact like no other, and the hope is that on Sunday, the 28-year-old can muster one more performance to lift the trophy.

Gonzalo Higuaín – 7.5

Two more goals for Gonzalo Higuaín, who appears to have brought his Serie A sharpness to the United States as he closes in on Diego Maradona’s number of goals for La Albiceleste. Pipita did exactly what was expected of him on Tuesday and will start once more on Sunday looking to put his previous failures behind him.

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Ezequiel Lavezzi – 8

Ezequiel Lavezzi looked good against a very poor Bolivia side but on Tuesday night he fully justified Martino’s decision to name him in his squad and start him. Pocho provided the width that was needed to open up the pitch and his headed goal and superb assist for Higuaín were vital contributions. The freakish elbow injury which rules him out for Sunday is a real blow but the former Paris St Germain forward has proved his worth.

Subs

Lucas Biglia –  6

Biglia came in for Fernández after his injury and did everything that was expected of him. The Lazio midfielder will surely start on Sunday.

Erik Lamela – 6

Didn’t get too long to make much of an impact but should certain other players not be available for the final, Lamela could be in line to start.

Víctor Cuesta – Only featured for a couple of minutes but should Marcos Rojo not make it, the Independiente defender looks set to start.

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