Argentina’s abysmal record in these World Cup Qualifiers without Lionel MESSI continues following their 2-0 loss to Bolivia.
Will MESSI play, will MESSI not play, that was the question which was being asked since Monday evening when news broke out that Lionel MESSI could be suspended due to a verbal confrontation he had with a Chilean referee. Ultimately, Argentina’s captain received a four match ban and served match number one of his suspension as he watched Argentina lose 2-0 against Bolivia. The decision to suspend MESSI was taken with less than seven hours until kick-off which meant Argentina National Team coach Edgardo BAUZA had to make a last second change to his starting line-up. It was a different eleven which started for Argentina from their match against Chile, one which saw Angel CORREA come in for Lionel MESSI and play behind Lucas PRATTO.
With the score at 0-0, Angel CORREA sent Angel DI MARIA one on one with the goalkeeper but his chip was saved and that was a crucial one for the Bolivians. It proved to be a turning point in the match as minutes later, a ball was sent into Sergio ROMERO’s area and Facundo RONCAGLIA lost his aerial battle as Bolivia scored and took a 1-0 lead. Still in the first half, Ramiro FUNES MORI was substituted off on a stretcher as he was seen holding his knee and was replaced by Matias CARUZZO who came in for the remainder of the match.
With and without MESSI:
In these World Cup Qualifiers, Argentina’s record without Lionel MESSI is, well, atrocious. Even more when compared with their record with him on the pitch.
With MESSI: 5 wins in 6 matches
Without MESSI: 1 win in 8 matches
The second half was more of the same with chances falling to Lucas PRATTO but he was unable to convert. In the second half, Bolivia added the second following some horrendous marking and that was it for Argentina.
Ever BANEGA, who captained the side, picked up a yellow card and will not be available for Argentina’s World Cup Qualifying match against Uruguay in August.