Argentina player ratings vs Brazil: Saravia & Otamendi bolster defence while Dybala & Icardi remain quiet

A disciplined and hardworking defensive display was ultimately undone by Miranda’s injury time winner and while there were positives in that area for Argentina, there is still much to do for Lionel Scaloni to improve La Albiceleste as an attacking force.

Sergio Romero – 5

Argentina’s most capped goalkeeper returned to captain the side and for 90 minutes had done everything asked of him. Romero saved well from Arthur and was an assured presence behind the back four but was slow to react to Miranda finding space at his near post and certainly takes part of the blame for Brazil’s winner. Chiquito’s status as number one remains unclear and Franco Armani will surely challenge him when fit.

Renzo Saravia – 7.5

If anyone really enhanced their reputation it was Renzo Saravia and at least for now the Racing defender looks to have secured his place as Argentina right-back. The daunting task of shackling Neymar could have been too much but Saravia was outstanding in his defensive duties and frustrated the Brazilian star man for the most part.

Germán Pezzella – 7

If there was another player auditioning for a more permanent role in the Argentina line-up it was Germán Pezzella alongside Nicolás Otamendi and the Fiorentina defender certainly did enough to suggest that for now he should remain. Firm in the tackle and strong in the air, Pezzella is a natural leader who could help to further organise the backline.

Nicolás Otamendi – 6

Otamendi’s goalline clearance kept Argentina level and on his return to the national team it looked to be a virtually flawless display from the Manchester City defender. That was until stoppage time when Otamendi was guilty of losing Miranda and as a result takes a large part of the blame for Brazil’s winner.

Nicolás Tagliafico – 7

Another solid display from Nicolás Tagliafico, who may not be an elite level full-back but is a consistent performer and without question Argentina’s best option on the left. Gabriel Jesus got very little out of the former Independiente captain and it was another committed 81 minutes before Marcos Acuña replaced him.

Rodrigo Battaglia – 6

A hard working display by Rodrigo Battaglia and one helped shield the back four, particularly during the opening 45 minutes, but one which did little to aid Argentina in possession or as an attacking unit. The 27-year-old struggled to combine with either Paredes or Lo Celso and his performance became more ragged during the second half with misplaced passes and mistimed tackles.

Leandro Paredes – 7

Such was Argentina’s defensive mindset that Leandro Paredes was probably asked to do more of the ugly side of a number five’s duties than the elegant midfielder would have liked but that didn’t prevent the former Boca Juniors graduate impressing. Despite picking up an early yellow card, Paredes stuck to his task and tried to move the ball forward into areas of danger. As the game opened in the second half this was more possible and Paredes went close with one shot from distance but the question over who is his best midfield partner remains.

Giovani Lo Celso –  7

A fizzing shot from the edge of the box just wide of the post in the opening stages suggested that Giovani Lo Celso was going to be the key man for Argentina and in parts the Real Betis midfielder was but as he has tended to do in an Argentina shirt, it was an up and down evening. Moments of excellence followed by periods of anonymity and as the 22-year-old lost his way he was eventually replaced by Eduardo Salvio. Lo Celso remains central to Argentina’s future and warrants perseverance in his role.

Paulo Dybala – 5

Aside from a free kick that whipped narrowly wide of Alisson’s post, it was another disappointing night for Paulo Dybala in an Argentina shirt. Operating from the right initially, Dybala struggled to get involved and failed to link up with centre forward Mauro Icardi and it is now 16 international games without a goal for the talented forward. Dybala’s time will surely come but it was a wasted opportunity to prove himself.

Mauro Icardi – 5

Mauro Icardi needs a goal in an Argentina shirt and while the Inter captain was starved of service for much of the game, on the two occasions Icardi did have a sight there was a hint of hesitancy. The striker’s decision to delay and roll the ball to Lo Celso after Lautaro Martínez had found him in the penalty box looked like the move of a player lacking the same level of confidence he has in his club shirt and the Brazilian defence recovered quickly to snuff out Icardi’s other opportunity.

Angel Correa – 6

Workrate from the school of Diego Simeone already makes Angel Correa a valuable member of the squad and the youngsters versatility on either side is also a huge plus. Starting on the left, Correa failed to make much of an impact but an excellent run away from two defenders created a chance for Lo Celso early in the second half and so while his continued starting spot is up for debate, Correa did his continued squad chances no harm.

Substitutes

Lautaro Martínez – 6

An immediate impact with a run down the right almost fashioned a chance for Inter teammate Icardi and while Argentina spending the closing stages defending meant Martínez wasn’t able to show what he is capable of, his place in the squad going forward should be in no doubt.

Roberto Pereyra – 5

Unable to show much after replacing Correa in the 66th minute.

Eduardo Salvio – 5

Replaced Lo Celso to take a place on the right of midfield but failed to make much of an impact down the wing.

Marcos Acuña – With less than ten minutes on the pitch, Marcos Acuña did enough to strengthen his claim as Nicolás Tagliafico’s back-up but little more.

Giovanni Simeone – Nothing more than a few minutes but perhaps should have protected the near post better at the corner from which Miranda scored Brazil’s winner.

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