Argentina entered a vital Copa América game against Paraguay needing a win but they were left disappointed once again, stumbling their way to a 1-1 draw thanks to a goal from Lionel Messi. The Albiceleste made lineup changes and tried to attack more, but they still looked like a mess and are lucky to leave with a point after a bad performance.
Argentina made a fine start to the game, trying to keep possession and press high up the pitch, but very quickly it became evident they had no creativity in the final third since Messi was well watched by the Paraguay defense. The Albirroja were patient and solid at the back, waiting for the right opportunity to counter attack.
Slowly but surely they began creating problems through Miguel Almirón and Derlis González, and it seemed like the Argentine defense was ready to crumble. And they did: Almirón was allowed to run 60 yards along the sideline and play a cross to the box for Richard Sánchez to fire home and give Paraguay the lead.
The Albiceleste showed no urgency after conceding and looked even more lost up front, and at halftime they were in desperate need of a miracle to win this one.
Lionel Scaloni made a change at halftime, with Sergio Agüero coming on for Roberto Pereyra. Argentina had two strikers up front and Messi in a free role behind them, and they looked a bit better with more presence in the final third and more pressure against the Paraguay backline.
They were also given the gift of a penalty after VAR called Iván Piris for a handball inside the box, and Messi absolutely buried the spot kick to equalize and give the Albiceleste some hope. Just five minutes later, their work was nearly undone by a stupid challenge from Nicolás Otamendi on Derlis González inside the box. Derlis himself stepped up to give his nation the lead, but Franco Armani made a great penalty save to keep his team alive.
The rest of the half was a mess, with both sets of players all over the pitch and a lot of space in behind both defenses. Almirón continued to cause all sorts of issues with his insane pace, while Argentina once again lacked creativity in the final third and entered the final five minutes in a state of desperation as they seached for a winner.
They tried, but couldn’t even create a real chance and the final whistle came. Argentina remain in last place in the group with just one point from two games, and they must beat Qatar in the final match to earn a spot in the quarterfinals.
Argentina: Armani; Casco, Pezzela, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Pereyra (Agüero), Paredes, Lo Celso; Messi, Lautaro (Di María), De Paul (Suárez)
Goal: Messi (57’)
Paraguay: Fernández; Piris, Gómez, Alonso, Arzamendia; Sánchez, R. Rojas; D. González (Escobar), Almirón (Ortiz), M. Rojas; Santander (Romero)
Goal: Sánchez (37’)