It is difficult to find positives from Argentina’s 2-2 draw with Peru on Thursday night as La Albiceleste continue to struggle in the absence of Lionel Messi. Edgardo Bauza shoulders much of the blame for the abject display but we rate how the players performed.
Sergio Romero – 7
Perhaps the only player to be able to come away from Lima without any liability, Romero saved well from Paolo Guerrero and Christian Cuevas and had no chance with either of the goals.
Pablo Zabaleta – 5
A wonderful assist for Gonzalo Higuaín’s goal aside, Zabaleta did little to demonstrate that he is still Argentina’s best right back. Rash in the tackle and rarely an outlet down that side, the Manchester City defender will have Gabriel Mercado breathing down his neck.
Nicolás Otamendi – 5.5
Paolo Guerrero gave both central defenders an uncomfortable evening and Otamendi performed with mixed results. The yellow card in the first half means the 28-year-old wil miss Tuesday’s match with Paraguay.
Ramiro Funes Mori – 5
A first Argentina goal for Ramiro Funes Mori broke the deadlock but the Everton defender endured a difficult evening defensively. Guilty of losing Guerrero for Peru’s first, the defender was plunged into trouble by Javier Mascherano and conceded the penalty that allowed the home side to equalise for the second time.
Marcos Rojo – 5
Left back remains an area that Edgardo Bauza must experiment with as Marcos Rojo fails to convince that he is the answer to this problem position. An excellent goal saving block aside, the Manchester United defender failed to provide anything going forward and remains a weak-link in the starting eleven.
Matías Kranevitter – 4
Certainly not helped by the absence of any more advanced midfielder, Kranevitter failed to take advantage of his opportunity to shine alongside Javier Mascherano. Often overrun and unable to protect the back four, his role to move the ball forward was made all the more difficult by the huge space between the defensive midfield and the four attackers.
Javier Mascherano – 3.5
Just as it did for Kranevitter the distance to the next line of the formation didn’t help Mascherano whether forced into it or not, El Jefecito played a huge number of aimless long balls that simply gifted possession to Peru. His error that led to Peru’s penalty was atrocious and ultimately cost Argentina two points. Why does no Argentina coach even test Mascherano in central defence?
Paulo Dybala – 5
Dybala darted in and out of the game in the opening 45 minutes as the Juventus forward tried to make some kind of impact in his unfamiliar role but gradually became more and more anonymous. Was substituted just after the hour mark in place of Angel Correa.
Sergio Agüero – 4
Other than a well struck free kick that was well saved by Pedro Gallese it would be easy to forget Sergio Agüero was on the pitch in Lima. Noticeably uncomfortable in his new role as the side’s number ten, the Manchester City striker failed to link play or create anything in his deeper position.
Ángel Di María – 5
In the first half Di María’s pace was just about Argentina’s only out-ball given the lack of actual constructive possession. However, as is often the case El Fideo’s decision making and pass selection was erratic and eventually any influence became less and less obvious.
Gonzalo Higuaín – 6
Such was the lack of build-up and creativity in Argentina’s play, Higuaín had virtually nothing to do for 70-odd minutes other than chase down aimless long balls. When the one chance did come the Juventus striker’s way he finished it beautifully and it should have earned La Albiceleste’s side three points.
Ángel Correa – 5
Correa’s introduction came as a like-for-like swap for Paulo Dybala at a time when Argentina were screaming for a change in the system. The result was the Atlético Madrid youngster being almost as invisible as Dybala had been in the second half.
Éver Banega – 6
75 minutes too late Bauza finally introduced Ever Banega and finally Argentina had an advanced midfielder who looked to actually get on the ball and look for a pass. The Inter Milan player may not be the long-term answer to systemic problems but with the options available to Bauza on Thursday night, the 28-year-old was required.
Edgardo Bauza – 2
It’s still early days in Edgardo Bauza’s tenure but the match against Lima was an unmitigated mess. The initial starting eleven looked worryingly lacking in players to transition from defence to attack and if the original error wasn’t bad enough, El Patón failed to then rectify this. The substitution of Dybala for Correa changed nothing and so it took 75 minutes to make a change that had some impact on how the side was playing. With so many supporters already questioning Bauza he did himself no favours and on Tuesday faces another big test. Still no Messi and now both central defenders unavailable.