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A group containing silverware hungry Argentina, a blessed Chilean side, and dark horses Uruguay and an emerging Paraguay side,  Copa America’s Group-A had some jaw-dropping fixtures to offer.

After brushing aside two difficult challenges, Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina locked horns with an exhausted Paraguay team. Heavyweights Uruguay and Chile had shared their candies just a few hours ago, and the stage was set for Argentina to capture the throne.



Inter Milan’s alluring forward Lauataro Martinez failed to register himself on the scoresheet and the team sheet with Aguero robbing his spot. Angel Di Maria also found himself starting his 107th game for his national outfit.

A one-sided battle for the first few knockings as Argentina outclassed Paraguay in every department. Papu Gomez’s brilliance in the 10th minute gave Albiceleste a satisfying advantage as Chile were toppled.



Although Paraguayan defenders frustrated the Argentine attackers from that minute. Flying in for tackles, sneaking balls up the field, and keeping Emiliano Martinez on his toes. The scoreline though didn’t reflect any changes,

Argentina’s second goal arrived just before the interval as a Paraguayan defender bundled the ball into his net thwarting the swarm of red shirts. Fortunately, technology saved them from going deeper into the hole Argentina had dug for them as the score at the break stayed 1-0.



After the break, Argentina’s and Scaloni’s game plan was to solidify their defence and not concede an unnecessary goal. Something they couldn’t achieve against Chile. But Monday’s fixture was surprising in numerous ways. Argentina were being dominated by a drained Paraguay side but Martinez’s net never bulged. It was a hard loss for Eduardo Berizzo’s men but for Argentina, a back-breaking 1-0 victory meant they marched on to the quarter-finals.




Argentina manufactured a wave of chances in the first minutes of the 90. PSG’s electrifying winger Angel Di Maria and Argentina’s origin of labour, Lionel Messi were demolishing the Paraguayan defence. FC Barcelona’s recent recruit Sergio Aguero failed to capitalise on those magnificent chances. In the 7th minute of the game, the record-breaking Argentine whistled a strike above his rival’s goal almost from a point-blank range. Papu Gomez manifested a few opportunities for himself but most of them rocketed over the roof of the goal.


La Albiceleste commanded the middle of the park. Rarely giving away the ball, fabricating wonderful passes, and giving Antony Silva a few nightmares. But soon enough the breakthrough knocked on the door and Lionel Scaloni’s army accepted it with both hands. Lionel Messi was once again at the heart of things. Wriggling and dribbling through an army of red-shirts he found a wandering Di Maria in acres of space.




The winger patiently dummied past 3-4 defenders before threading the perfect ball to Papu Gomez. The ex-Atalanta forward hunted the ball like a kid sprints for a candy, behind the Paraguayan defence. The rushing Silva tried to hinder Gomez’s dart but Sevilla’s talismanic striker chipped over the leaping keeper to rattle the back of the net and earn the early advantage.



The strenuous fixture produced another piece of a headline when Argentina’s second goal of the game was rejected by technology. The Uruguayan strikers were creating havoc in the Argentine half. Newcastle United’s winger Almiron caused all sorts of trouble to his opposite numbers. After a flood of attacks, the experienced Argentine campaigners started taking command. Messi, Di Maria, and a lacklustre Aguero looked for pockets of spaces behind the red backline.



A few seconds after the commentator had announced a minute of extra-time, Lionel Messi’s quirky gallops confused the Paraguayan defence and within a blink of an eye, Argentina’s advantage was doubled owing to an own-goal. Antony Silva was exasperated from the backline in front of him as he was rooted to his spot watching the ball cross the dangerous goal line. Although to Scaloni’s disappointment, the linesman played spoilsport raising his offside flag sky high. The two outfits circled the referee to continue their protests as the official received a few messages from his earpiece. After minutes of consultation, Lionel Messi was deemed offside in the initial seconds of the act, blind sighting Silva who made an outstanding save to deny Angel Di Maria.




Whenever players come out donning the prestigious sky blue and white jersey an extra-weight is added to their already burdened shoulders. With boots to fill and legacies to match, there exists exceptional pressure.

And Lionel Messi not being the torch-bearer for Argentina is a once in a blue moon situation. The Barcelona veteran didn’t have an off-day on Monday but fortunately, somebody relieved him from his national duties. Angel Di Maria was offered his first start by Lionel Scaloni.



The lightning-fast winger had spoiled Oscar Tabarez’s managerial tactics last week after coming on in the second period. Once again Scaloni expected him to fabricate a similar performance against a tough but tiring Paraguay. With years of experience under his belt playing in numerous leagues across Europe, Di Maria once again proved his haters wrong. A precise ball to set up Argentina’s first goal with Papu Gomez finishing it off with a chip justified Scaloni’s decision to start the old-timer. With an army of world-class left-footers, Di Maria dented the Paraguayan dreams.





By far the best player in the first half, Di Maria’s flamboyant style of play gave numerous headaches to the opposition. Making thundering darts into the box, Di Maria almost guided Albiceleste to their second goal but VAR overturned the decision. Di maria surely presented a case for himself in front of Scaloni and with Argentina marching on to the knockout stages with a win against Paraguay, the question is will Scaloni utilise the services of the PSG winger or will he be watching all the action from the bench?

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