The statistics prior to Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier against Paraguay already illustrated just how dependent Argentina are on Lionel Messi but Edgardo Bauza’s side plumbed new depths in a deserved 1-0 defeat that makes the qualification picture a lot murkier than it should be.
Bauza got his tactics completely wrong but escaped from Lima with a point last Thursday and the failure to learn from those inexplicable mistakes led to the worst Argentina performance in many years in Córdoba.
A stubborn refusal to move away from the 4-2-3-1 and persist with Gonzalo Higuaín and Sergio Agüero when the system clearly dictates one or the other rather than both cost Argentina dearly.
La Albiceleste once more failed to take any kind of grip of the game as the midfield laboured in their efforts to keep possession and find any semblance of creativity.
It was no surprise when Paraguay took the lead after 17 minutes as Derlis González dashed clear of the defence on the counter and rifled the ball low past Sergio Romero but what was more concerning was the lack of response from Bauza’s side.
The visitors looked the more likely next scorers and even when Argentina were presented with a glorious chance to equalise seconds after the break, Sergio Agüero saw his penalty saved by Justo Villar.
Paraguay defended well but were never really stretched and although Marcos Rojo had a goal ruled out for offside and Gonzalo Higuaín went close, Argentina did no where near enough to deserve a point.
The result leaves La Albiceleste in fifth position with Paraguay and Chile now just behind ahead of November’s critical double-header against Brazil and Colombia. Edgardo Bauza will be praying to have Lionel Messi back but it isn’t enough to pin the hopes solely on the Barcelona star.
Argentina 0 – 1 Paraguay