Argentina player ratings v Chile: Messi nets winner from the spot but Argentina falter

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Edgardo Bauza may have thought Argentina’s performance was brilliant, most others didn’t. La Albiceleste battled hard to grind out a 1-0 win over fierce rivals Chile thanks to Lionel Messi’s first half penalty but many of the same problems were evident and there were few bright spots aside from the three points.

Sergio Romero – 6

Once again Sergio Romero did what was required of him in an Argentina shirt. Aside from a couple of fumbles, once when Fuenzalida had a goal ruled out and another just after Sánchez had rattled the crossbar, from which he recovered, Chiquito was solid between the sticks.

Gabriel Mercado – 7

On his return to the Monumental, Gabriel Mercado was one of Argentina’s players to come out with any credit. Injury cut his evening short but the Sevilla defender had coped well with the threat of Sánchez down the left, been strong in the tackle and where possible tried to get forward. However, La Albiceleste’s lack of natural overlapping width is still an inherent problem.

Nicolás Otamendi – 6

A yellow card will rule Nicolás Otamendi out of Tuesday’s trip to La Paz and the Manchester City defender could undoubtedly have made Argentina’s victory easier when he managed to miss the target from yards out but in the second half, Otamendi’s powerful aerial presence was vital.

Marcos Rojo – 6

Shifted into the centre initially, Marcos Rojo was a little erratic and rash in the tackle but his flexibility to move to left back for the second half was valuable. When in his regular international position, the 27-year-old was improved and did manage to provide some width on the rare occasions, Argentina got forward.

Emmanuel Más – 5

Injury forced Emmanuel Más off at the break but the former San Lorenzo defender had been given a difficult opening 45 minutes and was unable to provide any attacking impetus down the left. Whether this was tactical or not, it is hard to tell but the performance against Chile was a far more cautious Mas.

Lucas Biglia – 6

Bauza’s virtually midfield-less formation made it a rough evening for Lucas Biglia but the Lazio captain stuck to his task and at least attempted to move the ball forward, despite the lack of options. A yellow card sees Biglia out of the Bolivia clash on Tuesday.

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Javier Mascherano – 5

Nothing less than 100% from Javier Mascherano as always but El Jefecito was poor in his passing during the first half and almost played Argentina into trouble on a couple of occasions. Never stopped running and instilled the spirit that held on for all three points but will also miss the game against Bolivia.

Lionel Messi – 7

Penalty aside, Lionel Messi was as usual the only Argentina player who looked capable of making anything happen in the final third. A fine lofted pass almost created for Di María and a burst down the right opened a chance for Agüero but too often Chile were able to crowd him out. As Argentina lost any control in the second half, Messi’s influence waned.

Sergio Agüero – 4

Through little fault of his own, Sergio Agüero appeared lost in his number ten role. Unable to link play between midfield and attack, Kun quickly became a second striker playing within yards of Gonzalo Higuaín and causing disorganisation. The Manchester City striker pressed Chile in the first half but was later substituted for Éver Banega.

Ángel Di María – 5

Winning the vital penalty, Ángel Di María had a key role in the victory but was otherwise typically frustrating. Claudio Bravo denied the Paris Saint-Germain forward the opening goal and aside from that El Fideo made little impact.

Gonzalo Higuaín – 4

It was a far cry from the sort of match that Higuaín would enjoy at Juventus and the ball rarely reached the centre-forward in any positions of threat. Battling away up against two central defenders, it was a bruising and frustrating evening for Pipita and eventually this boiled over into a stupid yellow card that earned him a suspension.

Substitutes

Mateo Musacchio – 6

The second half wasn’t easy for Argentina but Mateo Musacchio acquitted himself well after his introduction at the break. Strong in the air and the tackle, when the pressure was on, the Villarreal defender stood his ground. If the 26-year-old can avoid further injury, the opportunities for future starting roles should be there.

Éver Banega – 4

Inter Milan’s in-form midfielder should have started but did little to prove that when he did replace Agüero just before the hour mark. Argentina were already by that stage a minimal attacking threat and there was little for Banega to do, other than battle away in the centre of the pitch.

Facundo Roncaglia – 5

Replaced Gabriel Mercado late on but didn’t get the opportunity to do a great deal.

Coach

Edgardo Bauza – 3

The starting formation looked all wrong before kick off and so it proved with Argentina unable to string a few passes together and build any meaningful attacks that didn’t come from the individual talent of Messi. The result was all that mattered ultimately but how much of that was down to Bauza or simply that the familiar side knew how to grind out the result.

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