In a hugely important World Cup qualifier in the CONMEBOL region, Argentina faced off against Uruguay Friday night in a game that looked to be a hotly contested match. However, Argentina laid it on Uruguay, finishing the match with a comfortable 3-0 scoreline that saw La Albiceleste rise to first spot in the CONMEBOL standings with 17 points from 8 games, one point ahead of Ecuador and Colombia.
The match featured some of the world’s foremost attacking talent including Edinson Cavani, Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez, Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, and Lionel Messi. Despite Uruguay’s seemingly potent offense, they were stagnant in the first half before turning it on in the second half, yet Argentina were able to parry off attack after attack from the Uruguayans. In the 65th minute, Messi received a centered pass from Di Maria and knocked it past goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Ten minutes later, Messi fed the ball to Di Maria who tapped it to Aguero who slid the ball into the back of the net making the score 2-0. Just five minutes later, Messi scored from a free kick, cementing the win for Argentina. The match was billed as featuring some of the best attacking players in the world, however, the Uruguayan contingent was unable to deliver. La Celeste saw most of their attacking play be counters and were unable to really get the offense going.
Luis Suarez was noticeably missing as much was expected of the Liverpool player after the Uruguayan Football Association condemned FIFA’s criticism of Suarez’s apparent penchant for diving. On the other hand, Messi once again showed why he was the best player in the world, serving as the play-maker for Alejandro Sabella’s side while contributing two goals of his own.
Messi has become something of a free kick specialist as this marks this the second time recently that’s he scored from a set piece in a big match; the other being El Clasico against Real Madrid. One cannot say enough about what Messi adds to a squad and Uruguay was left wanting after Suarez was unable to replicate such a performance.
Though Uruguay failed to deliver in a match that looked to be scintillating on paper, the game still did show why soccer is also referred to as “the beautiful game” as one could see flowing attacks from Argentina especially in the second half. Despite the 22 fouls accumulated in the match, no one was sent off, as was the case in the previous two matches between these two countries.
Argentina will travel to face Chile on the road this coming Tuesday, while Uruguay will travel away to La Paz for their match against Bolivia. Bolivia sit one spot above the bottom and Uruguay will be looking to capitalize on that poor form and gain the full points. Argentina face a more tricky situation as they face Chile who sit in the playoff spot at 5th. That match will feature another intriguing battle between two of the world’s best as two of Barcelona’s attacking triumvirate will square off in the form of Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez. With World Cup qualifying in full swing, the top teams will be looking to win full points so expect some fireworks from South America.