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Messi 56'
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Richard Sánchez 36'
Full-time

Messi spot-kick saves apathetic Argentina in Paraguay draw

On paper, Argentina look like world beaters with a raft of talented individuals. If anyone wants a convincing argument that football is a team sport, then one only needs to look at the Copa America 2019 version of the Albiceleste. 

Argentina may progress at the Copa America with a win on Sunday against Qatar but questions need to be far reaching as how a team this good on paper can offer such a disjointed display.

It took a VAR awarded penalty for Argentina to claim a point after Paraguay took a first half lead through Sanchez and for much of the game in Belo Horizonte were the better side with Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron catching the eye. 

Lionel Scaloni has a major, major task on his hand.

Roll on Sunday!

One would fancy Argentina to overcome Qatar but a draw would condemn the Albiceleste to Copa America 2019 elimination and global embarrassment....

Very, very poor from Argentina but their dismal offering shouldn't detract from a composed and resolute performance from Paraguay. 

Argentina prop up Group B and  face Qatar next Sunday

group B Pts MP W D L
1 6 2 2 0 0
2 2 2 0 2 0
3 1 2 0 1 1
4 1 2 0 1 1

That's it. Mr Sampaio calls time on the action with both sides sharing a point.  

95

A better second half from Argentina, it has to be said but so much work ahead for Scaloni to get these huge individual talents to gel as a collective.  

94

Tiredness apparent in the Paraguay side now as they sit deep with just Romero looking fresh and willing to take the ball into the opposition half.

92

A shade more urgency from Argentina now as they look to fire balls into the Paraguay box which cause no problem for the men in blue.

90

We´ll have 7 (seven) minutes of added time ! 

Escobar on for (PAR) with Gonzalez makig way

89

Romero breaks for Paraguay as we head towards the 90' mark. 

De Paul off-Suarez on for ARG

Ortiz on with Almiron (surprisngly) off

85

5' left in Belo Horizonte. Paraguay in charge now.

84

Dangerous free for Paraguay.  Romero to take... strikes on goal and Armani pushes the ball back into play but the flag is up. A scare there for Argentina. 

The Newcastle United player has looked excellent tonight. 

Otamendi carded for a trip on Almiron.  

82

Into the final 10' we go in Belo Horizonte. Paraguay enjoying the better possession at present as veteran Cardoso seems poised to come on.

Tagliafico carded.

80

Cheers of "Ole, ole" ring out each time Paraguay string passes together.  Despite a high turn out from Argentina fans, plenty of Brazilians present here at the Estadio Mineirao.  

The moment when Messi struck.  

Stats on the 75' mark

possession
59.5% 40.5%
possession/5 minutes
  • 0
  • 15
  • 30
  • 45
  • 60
  • 75
  • 90
  • 70% 29%
  • 48% 51%
  • 83% 16%
  • 53% 46%
  • 30% 69%
  • 52% 47%
  • 65% 34%
  • 68% 31%
  • 67% 32%
  • 86% 14%
  • 75% 25%
  • 23% 76%
  • 61% 38%
  • 46% 53%
  • 66% 33%
Yellow cards
1
3
red cards
0
0
fouls won
13
12
fouls commited
13
15
lost balls
101
90
ball recovered
44
48
offsides
0
1
penalties
1
1
goalkeeper interventions
1
1

Argentina's post goal impetus seems to have fizzled out a little. 

75

Messi shoots but the Barça player was off balance and failed to get over the ball.

This is how Group B currently stands. Argentina face Qatar in the final group match on Sunday.   

group B Pts MP W D L
1 6 2 2 0 0
2 2 2 0 2 0
3 1 2 0 1 1
4 1 2 0 1 1

Change now goes ahead as Romero comes on for PAR and Santander the player sacrificed.

70

A really bright game now with Argentina taking the game to Paraguay and the Albirroja looking to strike on the counter. Nicely poised. 

Romero (PAR) set to make an entrance for the Albirroja 

Di Maria set to come on. Martinez making way for the PSG winger

Rojas is down after collinding with Aguero

66

Martinez heads over for Argentina after fine play from De Paul and Messi

We're being well rewarded in this second half after what was to be honset a dreary first 45'

63

Poor strike from the Paraguay striker and the River Plate stopper did well in making the save.

Gonzazlez to take for Paraguay....Armani saves 

Paraguay awarded a spot kick as Gonzalez is hacked by Otamendi. Terrible challenge from the City defender.

60' gone in Belo Horizonte and the goal (and Aguero's presence ) helping fire Argentina up now. 

59

How will the goal impact on the game? Spur Argentina on? Create further nerves for Scaloni's side? 

Good solid strike from Messi despite Fernandez's efforts

Messi takes and scores

A harsh call but possibly the correct one. Messi to take the spot kick.

Piris carded for the handball

The ref awards a spot kick

A possible hand as the ball was struck against the ball by De Paul.

Don't forget Brazil had two goals ruled out last night via VAR

Off to the screen heads Mr. Sampaio

Was their an infringement in the Paraguay box?

Play held up as the ref listens to his VAR team. 

51

De Paul goes close with the ball hitting the cross bar. Aguero starting to play a part in creating danger.  

Paraguay look great on the break !

48

Aguero gets on the ball but is hounded out by a sea of blue shirts.

What can Aguero bring to the table? Gabriel Jesus was hugely influential for Brazil in Sao Paulo and in Salvador last night coming on from the bench.

Can the City striker have the same impact?

The Argentina XI

46

No change for Paraguay as the action commences in Belo Horizonte 

Aguero on for Argentina with Pereyra making way

The sides are back on the pitch in Belo Horizonte. What does the fortyhcoming 45' hold?

The knives are already out it would appear in Argentina with plenty of the frustration aimed at the FA (AFA). A big, big performance  is urgently required from the Albiceleste in the second 45'.

Good work from the AS Mexico graphics team!

The whistle sounds and a 45' that Argentine will want to forget. Dreadful from Scaloni's men. 

48

We're back underway and we'll have another minute of action.  

Gomez (PAR) falls awkwardly and play is held up 

45

We'll have 3 minutes of added time. 

Armani carded (ARG) ...could have been a red as he takes out Gonzalez with a rash challenge

44

Into the final minute we go and Messi's free kick goes straight into the Paraguay keeper's hands.

Paredes hacked and Rojas (PAR) carded

Argentina's first half epitomised in a pic.

40

This is not looking good  for Argentina here. A timid performance from Scaloni's men with nothing to trouble the Paraguay keeper.

Strange to see such a performance from a group of highly talented individuals.

Sanchez fires home after great work from Almiron. What a blow for the Albiceleste. It was coming though ... Paraguay the better side in the past 10'.

Paraguay take the lead

35

Far from a classic here in Belo Horizonte with the game losing any rhythm now with foul after foul 

34

A poor effort from the Barça striker with no impact or force on the strike as it poses no problems for Fernandezx in the Paraguay goal

Free-kick for Argentina and this is in Messi range !

The No. 22 still limping from the impact.

Card for Gomez (PAR) for a rash challenge on Martinez

Stats after 30'

possession
53.4% 46.6%
possession/5 minutes
  • 0
  • 15
  • 30
  • 45
  • 60
  • 75
  • 90
  • 70% 29%
  • 48% 51%
  • 83% 16%
  • 53% 46%
  • 30% 69%
Yellow cards
0
0
red cards
0
0
fouls won
5
6
fouls commited
6
6
lost balls
48
38
ball recovered
20
21
offsides
0
0
penalties
0
0
goalkeeper interventions
0
0

This is how the live table looks with almost 30' minutes gone in Belo Horizonte. 

group B Pts MP W D L
1 6 2 2 0 0
2 2 2 0 2 0
3 1 2 0 1 1
4 1 2 0 1 1
28

Best chance of the night as Gonzalez strikes on goal with the ball deflected by Tagliafico. Corner for the Albirroja. 

26

Decent spell from Paraguay as they enjoyed minutes of sustained possession but once again the final ball is wasted and lofted straight to Armani.

23

Free-kick for Argentina with Messi over the ball. too long range for a shot ... The ball is dinked into the box but cleared by Santander for Paraguay. 

22

Nico Otamendi nearly puts the ball past Armani with a slice. Shocking defending from the City defender. 

19

There seems to be a touch of apprehension in the way the Argentine side are playing at the moment with Scaloni's men looking like a side a goal down with the clock running down.

Plenty of empty seats as this pic of the line-ups pre kick-off shows. Inflated ticket pricing policy by CONMEBOL is being cited as the problem by many.

Argentina dominating possession but neither side yet to call the opposing keeper into action in the opening 15'.

possession
61.5% 38.5%
possession/5 minutes
  • 0
  • 15
  • 30
  • 45
  • 60
  • 75
  • 90
  • 70% 29%
  • 48% 51%
Yellow cards
0
0
red cards
0
0
fouls won
2
4
fouls commited
4
2
lost balls
26
18
ball recovered
9
10
offsides
0
0
penalties
0
0
goalkeeper interventions
0
0

Play still held up as Gonzalez is attended to.   

The Santos player seems to be getting a sticth to a wound just above the eye 

Gonzalez (PAR) is on the ground and needs medical assiatnce after a collision.   

9

Imprecision still taints the game but one thing not lacking is pace, with the ball fizzing about from both sides.

5

Argentina enjoying the early possession but the final ball from the Albiceleste is still disappointing .... Messi breaks into the Paraguay area but the No. 10 is crowded out.

3

Nervy start from both sides with wayward passes the early hallmark of the opening minutes 

1

Off we go.... Argentina start the action.

Kick-off looms in Belo Horizonte. Can Argentina improve after a lackluster performance against Colombia last weekend ?

* Amend from the earlier message. Paraguay actually wearing their away shirt of royal blue.

Next up, Paraguay. Outnumbered by Albiceleste supporters but there are plenty of Albirroja fans in the ground tonight.

National anthem time..... first up Argentina....

Messi

Tonight's full referreing team.

Tonight's match official is Wilton Pereira Sampaio (Brazil)

Here's how Group B at the 2019 Copa America currently looks. Colombia earlier booked their place in the next round with a 1-0 win over Qatar. Defeat tonight for Scaloni's men could see Argentina on the ropes.  

Weather for the match: A balmy evening in Belo Horizonte tonight with a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius come kick-off with just a 10% chance of a shower. 

Paraguay will be in their traditional red and white shirt with blue shorts. 

Argentina set to wear their classic sky/white stripes, white shorts and socks tonight.   

In case you missed it earlier, the Argentina national team confirmed via the official Twitter account with many fans unhappy to see Aguero, Dybala and Di Maria on the bench.

Many Argentina fans already questioning the wisdom of playing 

Lautaro Martínez alongside Lionel Messi in attack. One senses that the critics are already waiting to pounce on Scaloni.

Once again, the attendance levels at this Copa America are a talking point so it'll be interesting to see how full the Estadio Mineirao will be tonight come kick-off. 

Plenty of Argentina fans already in the Estadio Mineirao with kick-off just 30' away 

Impressive skills outside the stadium!

Argentina have never lost against Paraguay at a Copa America..... Surely tonight cannot be the night to buck that trend? 

and the Paraguay XI

Argentina XI

Paraguay are winless in their past eight Copa America games (D4 L4); in fact, they have only won one of their previous 18 games in the competition (D10 L7): a 1-0 win over Jamaica in 2015.

Argentina have never lost against Paraguay at a Copa America (W19 D5 L0); they have only faced Chile more times without losing a single game in the competition (excluding penalties) – W20 D7 L0.

Paraguay boss Eduardo Berizzo is also said to be considering changes, with Gustavo Gomez potentially set to be drafted into the centre of defence.

Paraguay took a 2-0 lead against Qatar through Oscar Cardozo and substitute Derlis Gonzalez, but Almoez Ali reduced the arrears before an own goal from Roberto Rojas ensured the spoils were shared.

Argentina will hope to belatedly get their Copa America campaign up and running when they face Paraguay in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday.

Lionel Scaloni's men fell to a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Colombia in their Group B opener in Salvador at the weekend, with Lionel Messi again coming for criticism after what was perceived by many as another sub-par display on the international stage.

.