The absence of Lionel Messi was obvious but so too were the likes of Paulo Dybala and Sergio Agüero as Argentina toiled for an hour in Mérida before eventually grinding out a 2-2 draw with Venezuela. Edgardo Bauza said after the match that “there are things to correct,” and while for the next round of World Cup qualifiers in October, Argentina should have a number of players that missed Tuesday’s clash back available there were some performances that suggested it was time for Bauza to make some permanent changes.
Sergio Romero – 4
One of Romero’s worst performances for Argentina in a long time that almost saw all the efforts to get back to 2-2 completely wasted. The Manchester United reserve didn’t cover himself in glory with his effort to save Josef Martínez’s goal but the two spills late on were awful. Wet conditions or not a top goalkeeper can’t do that and as regular club football still eludes him, how long can Chiquito remain Bauza’s number one?
Pablo Zabaleta – 4.5
Zabaleta’s days in an Argentina shirt maybe numbered and while the team cries out for a pacy, attacking full back to overlap with the right midfielder, 31-year-old Zaba is only getting slower. Still as committed as ever but looked fragile when Venezuela ran at him.
Nicolás Otamendi – 6
Snatched the vital equaliser with seven minutes remaining but was given a real difficult evening by Salomón Rondón and was at fault for giving the ball away before the second goal.
Ramiro Funes Mori – 5.5
A rather mixed evening for Funes Mori who was anything but the solid looking, ball-playing centre back he appeared in Mendoza against Uruguay. The Everton defender remains inconsistent and neither he or Otamendi are yet to fully convince. Since Ezequiel Garay’s move to Valencia, is he poised to challenge them again?
Marcos Rojo – 4
Another poor evening for Marcos Rojo at left back and one wonders how long he can remain Argentina’s first choice in this position. Weak in the tackle to allow Juanpi to escape and smash in the opener and poor going forward, the 26-year-old’s place is surely under threat.
Lucas Biglia – 4.5
Given the competition to partner Javier Mascherano, Lucas Biglia is another who may be worrying about their place in the starting eleven after Tuesday night. The Lazio midfielder’s distribution was rarely incisive and La Albiceleste never really looked stable defensively. Bauza replaced him with Lucas Alario when chasing the game.
Javier Mascherano – 5
The forward passing, deep-lying playmaker Mascherano that appeared in Mendoza disappeared in Mérida and Argentina struggled to the move the ball as a result. El Jefecito battled as always but it was certainly not one of his best games for La Albiceleste.
Érik Lamela – 4
Replacing Lionel Messi was always likely to be an impossible task but Lamela’s certainly fluffed any audition. On the right, the Tottenham Hotspur failed to make any impact on the game and it was only minutes before being replaced that the 24-year-old began having an influence. His pass into Lucas Pratto led to the first goal but Lamela didn’t do anything to suggest he should be in Bauza’s first eleven when everyone is available.
Éver Banega – 5
Looking at the starting eleven it was clear that if Argentina were to have any success, Banega would need to see plenty of the ball and pull the strings. Venezuela were aware of this too and the result, along with one of the Inter Milan midfielder’s frustratingly inconsistent displays, was a toothless attack. Banega came close in the first half with a long shot but failed to make his mark.
Ángel Di María – 4.5
With the likes of Messi, Dybala and Agüero missing the need for a top performances from Di María was never greater. However, the Paris Saint-Germain wide-man produced one of those displays when you question whether or not he truly understands the game. An outstanding player is no doubt there but all too often, El Fideo makes the wrong choices. Improved in the final 25 minutes and could have maybe snatched victory but disappointed.
Lucas Pratto – 6.5
Fought for absolutely everything despite the scraps that he was fed in the first hour and scored the important goal that seemed to breathe life into Argentina. There is a good chance that the 28-year-old will drop out of the next squad if everyone is fit but Pratto didn’t disgrace himself by any means.
Ángel Correa, Lucas Alario and Nicolás Gaitán – all three didn’t make much of any impact after coming on late in the second half.