With Messi well marked and little offensive inspiration, Argentina suffered its first stumble in 2023 this Thursday. The team came from eight consecutive victories after winning their third world championship in Qatar, in December, but ended up being surprised by a cheeky Uruguay, who scored 2-0 at the Bombonera, in Buenos Aires. The stumble could be costly and Lionel Scaloni’s team runs the risk of ending the year outside the lead in the South American Qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup.
So calm at the top of the table, with 12 points and 100% success, compared to 7 from Uruguay and Brazil, now Argentina has only two advantages over the tormentors of the night, whom they had not lost to since 1987 or nine matches, with seven victories. The Uruguayans host fragile Bolivia in the next round, on Tuesday, while the three-time world champion visits pressured Brazil at Maracanã.
Before kickoff at La Bombonera, tributes to Messi and Dibu Martínez. The star was presented with a plaque for winning his eighth Ballon d’Or at the World Cup. The goalkeeper also had his great work in Qatar recognized after being chosen as the best in his position on the planet.
Willing to disappoint away from home in the Qualifiers, Uruguay started well against the powerful and dynamic Argentina and wasted great chances to open the scoring. After a wrong pass from Otamendi, Ronald Araújo launched, first time, and Darwin Nüñez, face to face, hit a cross, out. In the next move, the attack with involving touches ended in the hands of Martínez. De la Cruz also wasted two good chances in the first stage.
Honored on the night, Messi gave the game an air of grace with his characteristic skill. He got rid of the marker and hit the spot, but into the hands of Rochet. The number 10, always calm, seemed a little nervous and went after Oliveira in confusion in the 19th minute – the Uruguayan was arguing with De Paul. Captain Hermano punched his opponent and then calmed things down with words.
Always a hot clash on the continent, the game at La Bombonera started with all the remarkable ingredients of its long history. Effect plays, chances of goals, harsh and sometimes unfair tackles, cards and a lot of complaints.
In one of those huge fights for the ball, Messi pushed the marker, referee Wilmar Roldán let the play continue and then whistled the Argentine star for a foul. The number 10 adjusted it with care and ended up stopping at the barrier in a golden opportunity, almost at half moon.
Better in the game due to its offensive posture, Uruguay, led by bold coach Marcelo Bielsa, saw its superiority rewarded in the final stretch of the stage. Left-back Viña fought a lot for the ball on the baseline with Molina, won and crossed low for Ronald Araújo to appear as an attacker in the area and, finally, overcome Martínez. Until then, Argentina had still not conceded goals after the tri.
Uruguay returned from the break with a reinforced defense following the return of Jimenez, after four games of punishment for aggression. On the other hand, Lionel Scaloni responded with the entry of Lautaro Martínez at the front, in the position of a midfielder.
Exchanges that suggested a more offensive Argentina and a completely closed visitor. Interestingly, however, it was the Uruguayans who continued the attack. Bielsa’s team was already scared after 17 seconds. The strategy was simple: tighten the marking, steal the ball and run away.
Without seeing his change have any effect, Scaloni didn’t take long to appeal to Di María. In the first move, the veteran drew a free kick at the edge of the area. Messi made a mistake, but hit the crossbar, with Rochet already beaten in the play.
Satisfied with the provisional advantage, Bielsa started filling his selection of defenders. With a huge backseat, Argentina created nothing. He only managed to finish again in the 38th minute. And stopped at Rochet.
All disorganized in the search for a draw, Argentina allowed a decisive counterattack to Uruguay in the 41st minute. Darwin Nüñez took off quickly from midfield, took it easy and sent it under Martínez to create a giant triumph in Buenos Aires. After 34 years, with seven defeats and two draws, the Uruguayans once again beat their rival.