A bleak opener for the Copa América saw Argentina suffer defeat to Colombia on Saturday evening and Lionel Scaloni faces a big task to turn things around.
Franco Armani – 5
At no fault for either of the goals yet Franco Armani simply does not transmit the confidence he does when between the posts at club level. A dreadful pass to Nicolás Otamendi during the first half almost gifted Colombia a goal.
Renzo Saravia – 3
The new Porto right-back was left isolated by his Argentina teammates but in Renzo Saravia’s ongoing audition for the long-term position it was a bitter blow. Both Colombia goals came down Saravia’s side once the Cafeteros realised just how much space there was around the already booked full-back. Roger Martínez took full advantage for the opener and was able to simply roll in Jefferson Lerma on the overlap to set-up number two.
Germán Pezzella – 5
Much of it didn’t look exactly controlled but Germán Pezzella managed to keep on top of Radamel Falcao and made one vital block to deny the Colombian captain during the goalless first half. With Argentina stretched late on, Pezzella lost track of Duvan Zapata and the substitute found the space between the two centre-backs to double the lead.
Nicolás Otamendi – 5
Strong in the air and physical in the tackle as ever, Nicolás Otamendi drew a good stop from David Ospina in the second half. However, a reckless back-pass to Franco Armani that caused panic and a failure to pick up Duvan Zapata for Colombia’s second meant it was an evening to forget.
Nicolás Tagliafico – 6
The best of what was a poor Argentina defence, Nicolás Tagliafico was as committed as ever but still struggled. James Rodríguez and Juan Cuadrado made life uncomfortable for the Ajax full-back yet Tagliafico fought for everything and where possible tried to get forward to aid the attack.
Guido Rodríguez – 4
A difficult evening for Guido Rodríguez who failed to impose himself on the game and was booked for a challenge on Cuadrado before half time. It was perhaps with this caution in mind that Scaloni replaced the Club América midfielder for Guido Pizarro after 66 minutes.
Leandro Paredes – 6
There was no lack of effort from Leandro Paredes and certainly a marked improvement after the break but it still wasn’t the performance that so many expect from the PSG midfielder. Regularly tipped as the future of Argentina’s core, Paredes found life difficult during the first 45 minutes, at least in possession, but the 24-year-old did make some useful tackles. However, Paredes was able to show more quality after the break with two good long range efforts that went close and far more influence with the ball.
Giovani Lo Celso – 5
Shifted out onto the right for much of the game it was hardly an ideal position to get the best out of Giovani Lo Celso. Given the daunting task of becoming Messi’s deputy, the Real Betis playmaker tried to remain close and provide the passing options but just couldn’t generate an influence on the game.
Lionel Messi – 6
Another deeply frustrating evening for Lionel Messi in an Argentina shirt. Swarmed by Colombian players, Messi was unable to shake off the attention of Wilmar Barrios and aside from a couple of flashes of his talent the captain was unable to save La Albiceleste. A lofted pass to Sergio Agüero came close to fashioning a first half opener and a trademark burst into the box almost created something but ultimately an off-target headed chances and two weak free-kicks will be what most will remember of Messi’s contribution.
Sergio Agüero – 4
A return to the national team for Sergio Agüero and a game that will have the Manchester City striker wondering if he made the right choice. A plentiful supply line at club level sees Agüero remain as one of the best in Europe but completely cut off from the attack, Argentina’s third-top goal scorer was made to toil up against the the domineering Yerry Mina and Davinson Sánchez. Virtually a spectator, Lionel Scaloni then inexplicably replaced Agüero with Matías Suárez when Argentina were in need of a goal.
Ángel Di María – 3
Hauled off at the break after a virtually anonymous first 45 minutes, Ángel Di María keeps on getting chances for Argentina but surely El Fideo’s days are numbered. His pace out on the left was never utilised and Di María simply couldn’t add anything to Argentina’s efforts.
Rodrigo de Paul – 5
A bright start when initially introduced, within five minutes Rodrigo de Paul had already contributed more than Di María managed in 45. The Udinese wideman’s ability to drop deep to pick up the ball into feet and drift inside saw De Paul far more involved and for the spell of Argentine pressure, the Racing academy product linked up with Messi and took on the full-back. His early influence did wane but surely it was enough to suggest De Paul starts over Di María against Paraguay.
Guido Pizarro – 4
Replaced Guido Rodríguez after 66 minutes to protect the defence and soon after Colombia led. Pizarro certainly wasn’t solely at fault for the goals but also didn’t cover himself in glory in the role.
Matías Suárez – 4
Only Lionel Scaloni really knows why Matías Suárez was chosen to replace Sergio Agüero when Argentina were chasing the game but to no surprise the River Plate forward made no impact on the game.
Lionel Scaloni – 3
Talk of keeping things solid so the ‘dynamite’ attack can do the damage was made to look all the more foolish when Argentina couldn’t even find Messi or Agüero. Di María’s return on the left was an error, Lo Celso was stranded out of position and the substitutions, particularly Suárez coming on for Agüero when Argentina needed a goal, were ill-judged. Carlos Queiroz out-thought and out-witted Scaloni leaving La Albiceleste with much to think about ahead of Wednesday’s game with Paraguay.