The friendly quadrangular tournament organised in the Canary Islands always looked likely to pit Argentina against Brazil in Sunday’s final and although only a single goal separated Brazil and the United States in the earlier game, La Albiceleste showed no mercy to the home team scoring fourteen in a one-sided thrashing.
Whether or not such a game was of any use to Fernando Batista as the Argentina coach finalises preparations for January’s pre-Olympic tournament is up for debate but the players certainly enjoyed themselves.
The gulf in class was all too apparent and when Leonardo Balerdi headed in an Ezequiel Barco cross after five minutes the floodgates opened.
Matías Vargas, who had been in Lionel Scaloni’s first team squad earlier in the year doubled the lead from close range after a Barco shot was saved and Adolfo Gaich fortuitously deflecting in a third two minutes later made it three.
After missing the previous squads through minor injuries Ezequiel Barco was heavily involved and made it four-nil after 21 minutes from the penalty spot.
Back in the under-23 squad having made his senior debut, Adolfo Gaich proved once again why he is Batista’s best number nine option with a fine finish to make it five and soon after completed his hat-trick. Gaich’s third highlighting just how poor the Canary Islands were defensively, the San Lorenzo centre-forward’s initial shot saved, punched up into the air and then still falling to Gaich to turn away from two defenders and slot in.
However bad that was from the home side there was little to be done with Matías Zaracho’s wonderful seventh, the Racing Club midfielder finding the top corner from 25 yards to conclude a farcically one-sided first half.
There was no let-up after the break and only two minutes after the restart, Valentín Castellanos held off a challenge to poke the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs for number eight.
A Castellanos diving header made it nine and then a splendid back-heel by Vargas released substitute Carlos Valenzuela to bring up double figures.
Another substitute Leonel Mosovich headed in at a corner and then Fausto Vera bent in a fine finish from the edge of the box to make it twelve.
Not quite done there, Castellanos completed his hat-trick heading in at the back post from an Agustín Urzi cross and then the Banfield winger got on the scoresheet himself to conclude the rout.
Argentina will play Brazil in Sunday’s final knowing that the test will be far greater.
Argentina: Juan Pablo Cozzani; Hernán De La Fuente, Cristian Romero, Leonardo Balerdi, Francisco Ortega; Fausto Vera, Matías Zaracho; Ezequiel Barco, Matías Vargas; Valentín Castellanos, Adolfo Gaich