Argentina player ratings v Brazil: Lionel Messi unable to inspire victory

It could have been worse after the defeat to Colombia left some wondering whether Argentina would make it out of the groups but on Tuesday evening, La Albiceleste’s Copa América campaign did come to an end. Hosts Brazil eventually prevailed but Lionel Scaloni’s side produced arguably their best performance to provide a glimmer of hope for the future.

Franco Armani – 6

Unable to do anything about either Brazil goal it was actually a quiet evening for Franco Armani who did little wrong in defeat.

Juan Foyth – 5

Continuing in the somewhat unfamiliar right-back position, Juan Foyth deserves praise for his job in keeping Everton quiet but is far from exempt in criticism for his roles in Brazil’s goals. Slow to react to the run of Gabriel Jesus for the opener and outpaced for the second after stopping for a foul that was never given, Foyth showed his inexperience. The Spurs defender remains one for Argentina’s future but perhaps not the present right-back.

Germán Pezzella – 4

Argentina’s lack of pace in central defence was badly exposed for Brazil’s second and Germán Pezzella did little to suggest during the Copa América that he is the answer. Guilty of losing Gabriel Jesus for the first and at fault for allowing the forward to run clear and create the second, it was a night to forget for the 28-year-old.

Nicolás Otamendi – 4

While Nicolás Otamendi’s most significant moment may have been the penalty that was not awarded to him when barged by Arthur at a late Argentina corner, it doesn’t paper over the fact that the Manchester City defender endured a tough night. Poor playing the ball out from the back and with a role in both Brazil’s goals, Otamendi’s lack of pace has always been an issue and his days wearing La Albiceleste are surely numbered now.

Nicolás Tagliafico – 4

A dependable part of the side since making the left-back spot his own, Nicolás Tagliafico produced probably his worst performance in an Argentina shirt. An early booking for a foul on Gabriel Jesus didn’t help matters as it left the Ajax defender walking a tightrope but out of position for Brazil’s opener, Tagliafico suffered a difficult opening 45 minutes from which he never really recovered.

Rodrigo De Paul – 5

Full of industry once more, Rodrigo De Paul gave everything but was unable to make much of impact on the game. That being said, the 25-year-old has been one of the pleasant surprises from the Copa and deserves further chances for Argentina.

Leandro Paredes – 6

A busy start to the game saw Leandro Paredes go close to a spectucular opening goal from 30-plus yards and fly into challenges that somehow avoided any punishment. It was one such lunge that allowed Dani Alves to slip past the midfielder and set in motion Brazil’s opener as Paredes’ vulnerability as a number five were perhaps exposed. Always a willing passer from deep, the Boca academy graduate kept moving Argentina forward and showed enough in the tournament that he should remain a central part of this side.

Marcos Acuña – 4

Up against the best player on the pitch, Dani Alves, it was a tough evening for Marcos Acuña. El Huevo struggled to make inroads offensively and along with Nicolás Tagliafico down Argentina’s left was given a difficult 45 minutes. A silly yellow card would have cost Acuña his place in the final and he was replaced before the hour mark by Ángel Di María.

Lionel Messi – 8

By his own admission Lionel Messi hasn’t been at his best during the Copa and while this was hardly vintage Messi it was his most dangerous performance. The captain showed leadership, desire and with a bit of luck would have scored a vital equaliser. Striking the woodwork and seeing Alisson save a well hit free-kick denied Messi what would have been a deserved goal but no one could deny his effort. Brazil struggled to contain the Barcelona star and a stronger performance by referee Roddy Zambrano would have seen a few more in the book.

Sergio Agüero – 6

A few millimetres lower and Sergio Agüero would have been celebrating a fine headed equaliser and who knows what would have happened. The Man City striker worked tirelessly and tried to link up play and while it was ultimately a frustrating evening, Agüero’s partnership with Lautaro Martinez is one that could serve Argentina for some more time to come.

Lautaro Martínez – 5

Aside from a volley early in the second half that was easily saved by Alisson, it was a tough night for Lautaro Martínez up against Marquinhos and Thiago Silva. Typically bullish in his approach there was no lack of hard work and at times he linked up play well with Messi and Agüero but the youngster wasn’t able to have the same impact he did against Venezuela. Regardless, Lautaro announced himself as Argentina’s long-term solution up front during this Copa.

Substitutes

Ángel Di María – 4

Replacing Marcos Acuna just before the hour mark there was plenty of time for Ángel Di María to make an impression but the PSG pace merchant failed to do so. A couple of poor shots and some wayward passing, El Fideo may perhaps contributed his last to Argentina if the national team really is looking to build towards 2022.

Giovani Lo Celso – 4

This Copa was supposed to be the time for Giovani Lo Celso to take control of Argentina’s midfield but after slipping down the pecking order and out of the first eleven, the Betis playmaker is now fighting for a spot once again. A second half substitute appearances in place of Rodrigo De Paul failed to have much impact and Lo Celso will be hoping for more chances later in the year.

Paulo Dybala – Coming on for Nicolás Tagliafico with only minutes remaining there was no time for Paulo Dybala to make a difference. This Copa didn’t allow the Juventus forward to showcase his talent and if Dybala is going to break into the Argentina side he will need more opportunities.

Coach

Lionel Scaloni – 5

Sticking with a starting eleven for the first time, Lionel Scaloni’s side showed its vulnerabilities but also its threat on the attack during one of its better performances. Tournament favourites and hosts Brazil were second best for large parts and given their stronger squad and the stability that comes with having Tite in charge for the same period that has seen Argentina have four coaches, Scaloni deserves credit. That being said, the inexperienced coach seemed to lack ideas of how to change things and picked up his second yellow card of the tournament as frustration boiled over. The lack of available options may see the AFA stick with Scaloni but the 41-year-old isn’t the world class operator much of this squad deserves.

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