Julio Olarticoechea’s Argentina side began their Olympic preparations last night in Miami with a hard fought goalless draw against Colombia but will certainly feel they did enough to snatch victory after Jonathan Calleri blazed over a late penalty.
In spite of a number of the high profile withdrawals from the squad, Argentina fielded a strong starting eleven that should in theory be very competitive in Rio de Janeiro but it was Colombia that started the better of the two sides.
The experienced Dorlan Pabón gave the inexperienced central defensive partnership of captain Víctor Cuesta and youngster Lautaro Gianetti plenty to think about and twice as a result of relatively simple balls over the top the Monterrey striker ran clear – firstly seeing his shot come back off the post and secondly having Gerónimo Rulli smother his effort.
Argentina’s best efforts in a somewhat disjointed opening 45 minutes came from a spectacular Manuel Lanzini bicycle kick and a fierce long range effort from Mauricio Martínez that Cristian Bonilla tipped round the post.
After the break, La Albiceleste looked more threatening perhaps as the side became more familiar with their roles but also as Ángel Correa became more prominent in the Colombian half.
Jonathan Calleri went close with a diving header and substitute Giovanni Simeone forced a fine save from Bonilla but the best chance of the game came in the final minutes.
Marauding full back José Luis Gómez won the ball back and charged into the Colombian penalty area only to be brought down by William Tesillo.
However, Jonathan Calleri, the target for many European clubs this season, wasted the opportunity when he put his spot kick high over the cross bar.
Despite not claiming victory the match was a useful exercise for Julio Olarticoechea, who was able to get a closer look at almost his entire squad and for the players to gain some experience as a group.
Argentina 0 – 0 Colombia