Many of Argentina supporters’ worst fears were realised in the Mineirão on Thursday evening as Edgardo Bauza’s side produced another clueless performance and were deservedly punished by a rampant Brazil. Not even the return of Lionel Messi could help La Albiceleste and major improvements must be made ahead of Colombia’s visit to San Juan on Tuesday.
Sergio Romero – 4.5
Romero couldn’t be held accountable for any of Brazil’s goals but had little else to do other than pick the ball out of his net. One routine stop from a Dani Alves free kick aside, Chiquito was a rather helpless figure but is the perennial sub at club level the correct man to instill confidence in the backline. The Manchester United backup can no longer be an automatic choice as Argentina number one.
Pablo Zabaleta – 3
Manchester City supporters have already begun to see the decline of Pablo Zabaleta and on Thursday, Argentina fans were also witness to a 31-year-old defender, no longer with the yard of pace he once had, tormented by quicker, younger attackers. Phillippe Coutinho cut inside Zabaleta for the first and Neymar left him for dust for Brazil’s second.
Nicolás Otamendi – 3
A torrid evening for Nicolás Otamendi, who just like City teammate Zabaleta, was at fault for Brazil’s first two goals. Coutinho was allowed inside with a degree of naivety and the 28-year-old seemed almost oblivious to Neymar’s very clear run for the second.
Ramiro Funes Mori – 4
Slow to get across and cover Otamendi for Coutinho’s opener, Bauza must reevaluate the partnership between the City defender and Ramiro Funes Mori. The 25-year-old never looked comfortable and may consider himself slightly fortunate to have only seen yellow for a challenge on Neymar in the second half to halt another wave of attack.
Emmanuel Mas – 3.5
Emmanuel Mas found out the hard way just how considerable the step up from the Argentina Primera to international football can be. The San Lorenzo left back tried to get forward in the first half and created one moment of danger but was ultimately left wanting defensively. The 27-year-old badly misjudged Marcelo’s cross which allowed Brazil to add a simple third.
Enzo Pérez – 6
Argentina’s brightest player in the first half, Enzo Pérez didn’t deserve to be withdrawn at half time by Edgardo Bauza. The Valencia midfielder fulfilled his duties in tracking back to help follow the runs of Neymar and Co and provided some of the only thrust to Argentina’s attack.
Lucas Biglia – 4
So close to giving Argentina a spectacular lead, Lucas Biglia’s match swiftly went downhill after Allison’s save denied him a goal. Second to the ball and overrun by Brazil’s midfield trio, Biglia ended the game as a virtual spectator in the centre of the pitch.
Javier Mascherano – 2.5
One of Mascherano’s worst evening’s in an Argentina shirt, El Jefecito was unable to keep up with the pace and movement of Brazil’s dynamic attack and his passing out from deep was poor. Amid a flurry of missed passes, Mascherano was also guilty of a number of fouls but remained out of the referee’s notebook. One day perhaps an Argentina coach will take a look at Mascherano in the position he excels at club level.
Ángel Di María – 3
Bauza’s team being set-up to deny Brazil space and spring the counter meant Angel Di María should have been key but the truth was that the Paris Saint-Germain speed merchant was anonymous. When El Fideo did get on the ball it was invariably followed by a poor pass selection. Another whose place in the starting eleven must surely be in doubt going forward.
Lionel Messi – 5
Edgardo Bauza had thinly criticised Gerardo Martino for allowing Lionel Messi to be swamped by players in the Copa América defeat to Chile but El Patón’s Argentina were equally guilty on Thursday evening. The static movement of his teammates meant Messi struggled to find passes and Brazil were able to reduce his space. If Argentina were going to create anything it would be through Messi but as the game wore on the captain had less of an impact.
Gonzalo Higuaín – 3.5
It is difficult to recall a single contribution that Gonzalo Higuaín made over 90 minutes such was the Juventus striker’s lack of involvement. This was the team’s fault as much as anything but a couple of careless offside calls didn’t help Pipita.
Sergio Agüero – 4
Introduced at half-time when two-down, Argentina failed to control the ball with a non-existent midfield and so Agüero’s impact was minimal. A couple of runs down the right, one of which won a free-kick was about all from the Manchester City striker and Bauza must surely decide whether he plays Kun or Higuaín in future. There is no balanced team with both.
Ángel Correa – The game was already gone when Correa replaced Di María with 20 minutes remaining. The youngster had no time to do anthing.