Paraguay beat Messi-less Argentina 1-0 in Cordoba

Argentina lacking inspiration in Messi's absence

Paraguay beat Argentina 1-0 at the Mario Kempes Stadium in Cordoba. La Albiceleste thus suffered yet another humiliating setback in their 2018 World Cup South American qualifying campaign. Argentina missed their talismanic captain – Lionel Messi who is out with a groin injury. Without Messi, Edgardo Bauza’s boys clearly lacked inspiration on the field. Argentina is currently languishing in 5th position in the 2018 World Cup South American qualifying group.

Francisco Arce coached Paraguay stunned Argentina with a fast break from deep in their own half in the 18th minute. Angel Romero played a brilliant cross towards striker Derlis Gonzalez who then beat Sergio Romero with a curling shot inside the near post. The away crowd went mental as the forward gave Paraguay the lead. The goal also signalled that the Argentine defence lacked the patience to cope with counter-attacks. They were too busy trying to defuse the situation.

Paris-Saint Germain winger Angel Di Maria’s curling free-kick goal was disallowed because of a foul inside the box. While, Manchester City ace Sergio Aguero missed the chance to equalise by failing to convert a penalty. The absence of Messi was still felt by Argentina as they tried to breach a stubborn Paraguayan defence. Argentina also seemed to lack the motivation required to make a comeback after seeing a few decisions going against them. Higuain and Aguero saw multiple shots either get deflected or saved. Questions are being asked now, as to why Eric Lamela was not given match time alongside Paulo Dybala when Aguero and Higuain were failing to deliver.

Paraguay goalie Justo Villar put in a series of saves and was superb between the posts. The 39-year-old veteran Colo-Colo custodian was responsible for Paraguay ousting their fancy counterparts. Villar stood tall as he orchestrated his defence to cope with the pressure. Argentina will have to read the game much better if they aim to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Argentina will face arch-rivals Brazil next. Bauza will remain optimistic ahead of the encounter as there is a chance of Lionel Messi recovering from the injury. But there are a few concerns regarding the selection of Kun Aguero. Sergio certainly failed to justify his position in the Argentina squad with a dismal performance against Paraguay. Tite has also reiterated that Neymar led Brazil will be ready for the dramatic contest. Meanwhile, Argentina needs to emerge as the victor to earn some valuable points and maintain their World Cup dreams alive.