Argentina, current world champions, took a calculated gamble by giving their ace player, Lionel Messi, a rest during their latest match against Bolivia in La Paz. Despite Messi’s absence, Argentina demonstrated their prowess, effortlessly securing a 3-0 win over a diminished 10-man Bolivian team.
The victory solidified Argentina’s unbeaten streak at the outset of the South American World Cup qualifying series.
Engaged with his responsibilities at Inter Miami, Messi opted for a well-deserved rest, feeling drained after a pivotal role in securing a 1-0 triumph over Ecuador the previous week. Messi watched the unfolding action from the sidelines, not featuring even in the substitutes’ list.
Dominance in Lionel Messi’s Absence
Even without their marquee player, Argentina exhibited a formidable offensive display. The spotlight was shared by players Enzo Fernandez, Nicolas Tagliafico, and Nicolas Gonzalez, who emerged as the goal scorers, steering Argentina to victory.
Fernandez, the dynamic Chelsea midfielder, narrowly missed the opening score with a formidable long-range effort, which, although on target, was thwarted by Bolivia’s custodian, Guillermo Viscarra. Viscarra was kept on his toes throughout, displaying reflexive saves, including a remarkable denial of a close-range effort by Julian Alvarez, who sought to exploit Bolivia’s defensive lapses.
The first goal manifested in the 31st minute, courtesy of a deft cross from Angel Di Maria, which found a charging Fernandez in the box. Bolivia’s uphill battle steepened when Roberto Fernandez was sent off with a red card for a dangerous tackle on Cristian Romero, just eight minutes post the opening goal. By the interval, Argentina had established a commanding 2-0 lead, furthered by a brilliant header from Tagliafico off a Di Maria set-piece.
The latter half saw Argentina maintaining their dominance, with Alvarez striking the woodwork around the 70th minute mark. Viscarra remained steadfast, pulling off critical saves against attempts from Rodrigo De Paul and Di Maria. Finally, it was Fernandez who sealed the deal with a stellar left-footed strike, exploiting the Bolivian defense’s hesitations, and cementing the victory in the 83rd minute.
This convincing victory underlines Argentina’s solid preparations for their World Cup journey, demonstrating their depth even without the glittering presence of Messi. Meanwhile, in other fixtures on Tuesday, the football world witnessed Ecuador welcoming Uruguay, Venezuela squaring off against Paraguay, Colombia journeying to Chile, and a thrilling clash between Brazil and Peru.