Argentina player ratings v Paraguay: Agüero under fire as La Albiceleste slump to defeat

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Not since perhaps Diego Maradona’s Argentina in 2010 have the national side looked so bad. Part of the blame undoubtedly lies with Edgardo Bauza this time around but several of La Albiceleste’s established stars need to look at themselves after their serious underperformance led to a deserved defeat on home soil to Paraguay and leaves World Cup qualification in a precarious position.

Sergio Romero – 4

Despite not taking the blame for Derlis González it could be argued that Sergio Romero had his angles a little wrong and allowed too much of his near post to be exposed. The Manchester United reserve was a little slow to react and his automatic selection as Argentina’s number one must surely start to be questioned.

Gabriel Mercado – 4

Paraguay didn’t stretch Mercado a great deal down the right but the Sevilla defender failed to contribute to the Argentina attack.

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Martín Demichelis – 3

Quite what Martín Demichelis is still doing starting a game for Argentina only Edgardo Bauza can answer but it was entirely predictable to see the 35-year-old lose a foot-race with Derlis González and allow Paraguay to score the only goal of the game.

Mateo Musacchio – 3.5

A debut to forget for Mateo Musacchio, who started the game brightly but was also at fault for Paraguay’s goal. The Villarreal defender’s decision to try and beat Oscar Romero to the ball allowed the Racing midfielder to release González and left Demichelis exposed. Despite this, the 26-year-old must form part of Argentina’s future squads.

Marcos Rojo – 3.5

Completely AWOL for the Paraguay goal, Marcos Rojo’s position comes under increasing scrutiny. The Manchester United did bundle in an offside goal in the second half but his added threat from set-pieces is just about the only plus going for him as Argentina’s left back. Time to explore alternatives.

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Javier Mascherano – 4

Lost Oscar Romero in the build-up to the goal and suffered for the rest of the game as Bauza’s system appeared to leave the Barcelona CENTRE-BACK as the midfielder playmaker.

Ever Banega – 4

Brought into the side to attempt to improve Argentina’s possession and creativity from midfield but failed to have any kind of impact and was often imprecise in his passing. Banega’s detractors will point to another failure on the international scene but Bauza’s system was undoubtedly a factor.

Nicolás Gaitán – 4

Just as Paulo Dybala had been against Peru, Nicolás Gaitán was virtually anonymous on the right of midfield. Replacing Messi was never going to happen but Argentina needed to find the Atletico Madrid midfielder more. Bauza eventually replaced Gaitan for Dybala in another of his inexplicable substitutions.

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Sergio Agüero – 2.5

Against Peru, Agüero was simply missing but unfortunately for the Manchester City striker in Córdoba, he was equally ineffective but also guilty of missing the penalty that could have earned Argentina an undeserved point. It seems clear to everyone bar Edgardo Bauza that Agüero cannot play as the side’s number ten and a decision must be made between he and Higuaín as the number nine but Argentina paid the price for El Patón’s incompetence.

Angel Di María – 4

Aside from a shot that clipped the post in the first half it is difficult to remember Di María having any impact on the game. Another of the golden generation that should be feeling pressure over his automatic place in any virtually any system that Argentina play.

Gonzalo Higuaín – 3

Higuaín wasn’t given a great deal of support and was clearly left confused by Agüero’s presence in behind but on the two or three occasions, the Juventus striker did catch a sight of goal, he fluffed his lines. For how much longer can Argentina ignore Mauro Icardi?

Substitutes

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Paulo Dybala – 5

Thrown into the action on the right despite looking out of position against Peru, Dybala at least tried to work some opportunities. The youngster came close to equalising but despite these two awful qualifiers it is time for Bauza to implement Dybala into the starting eleven with immediate effect.

Lucas Pratto – Didn’t really make any kind of impact in the time he was given.

Coach

Edgardo Bauza – 1

Demichelis starting at centre-back, Agüero again as the number despite it obviously not working against Peru, dropping Paulo Dybala, bringing on Dybala eventually but for Gaitan on the right (where he failed to have any impact against Peru), aimlessly throwing on more strikers in an attempt to salvage something….I’ll leave it there.

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