Without their two top scorers and playmakers, and already enduring a difficult upset loss, Argentina will attempt to recover in the World Cup qualifying stages against Paraguay on Tuesday evening at Estadio Defensores del Chaco in Asuncion.
Without injured talisman forward Lionel Messi, Argentina and manager Gerardo Martino began the qualifying campaign with a disappointing 2-0 loss to Ecuador in Buenos Aires, and now the reigning runners-up will again miss Messi and even lost forward Sergio Aguero to a grade-two hamstring injury.
The loss could have been excused if not for the way Ecuador triumphed. They netted two goals a minute apart in the final nine minutes of play, evidence that Argentina’s defense wasn’t properly focused down the stretch.
Aguero reportedly hopes to return in time for Nov. 7’s qualifier versus Brazil, but the Albiceleste are in need of scoring now before the qualifying stages get out of hand.
Martino will instead turn to veteran forward Carlos Tevez, who didn’t seem ready to hit the panic button when speaking to reporters.
“We didn't start our qualifiers on the right foot but we have another chance on Tuesday,” Argentina forward Tevez said to Ole.com.ar. “Qualifiers are difficult and it was evident on Thursday that they are more difficult than a Copa America or a friendly match.
“We lacked attitude on Thursday and that is something we spoke about. The team did not turn up at any time and that is what most concerns us.”
The 31-year-old Boca Juniors star has netted five goals and two assists since returning to his boyhood club after leaving Italian power Juventus this summer, and the confidence in his squad should reflect on the field against Paraguay.
Based off recent success, Argentina could get back on track against Los Guaranies. The Albiceleste have won their four of the last five matches against Ramon Diaz’s side, including a 6-1 drubbing at the Copa America this summer.
Los Guaranies did, however, rise to the occasion in their opening qualifying match. Midfielder Derlis Gonzalez’s right-footed strike in the 85th minute proved the difference in Paraguay’s 1-0 victory over Venezuela last week despite a glaring 53-47 possession disadvantage.
Kickoff Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: beIN Sport
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