There was little to suggest from Argentina’s pre-Olympic friendlies that La Albiceleste would be celebrating a third gold medal and after Thursday night’s defeat to Portugal, that has never looked more obvious.
Julio Olarticoechea named what appeared an odd starting eleven with Lisandro Magallán at right back and José Luis Gómez pushed further forward and although the latter was again Argentina’s best player, the side was disjointed and almost devoid of a midfield able to keep possession.
Portugal started the far brighter and had the ball in the net early only to be ruled out for offside but Gerónimo Rulli needed to remain alert to ensure that Argentina didn’t concede in the opening stages.
Gradually Olarticoechea’s side improved and half chances for Correa, Cuesta and Gómez provided flashes of danger to the Portuguese goal without being the result of any real consistent threat.
The best chance came minutes after half time when West Ham United’s latest acquisition, Jonathan Calleri raced clear only to see his chipped finish over Bruno Varela bounce off the top of the crossbar.
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) August 4, 2016
Argentina clearly sensed that they could snatch the points and introduced Cristian Pavón in place of Magallán but within minutes Portugal led.
Porto striker Gonçalo Paciência was allowed far too much space on the edge of the penalty area and made no mistake in rifling the ball past Rulli to break the deadlock.
Giovani Lo Celso and Giovanni Simeone were both brought off the bench in an attempt to salvage something but seven minutes from half time, Gerónimo Rulli uncharacteristically fumbled a speculative long range effort from Pité through his legs and into net.
Simeone came close to pulling a goal back when his close range bicycle kick was cleared off the line but Argentina Olympic record of 12 consecutive wins was already over.
Argentina face Algeria on Sunday evening in what is already a must-win game and perhaps Olarticoechea must be a little more bold in his selection if he is to get the best from this group of youngsters.
Argentina 0 – 2 Portugal