Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez start for Argentina vs. Ecuador


Argentina national team coach Lionel Scaloni has gone with the attack of Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez and Lucas Ocampos in their World Cup qualifier.

Lionel Scaloni has gone with Franco Armani instead of Esteban Andrada and Emiliano Martinez as the goalkeeper with a back four, three midfielders and three forwards. Here’s the starting eleven and the bench:

Armani; Montiel, Martínez Quarta, Otamendi, Tagliafico; De Paul, Paredes, Acuña; Messi, Lautaro Martínez, Ocampos.

Bench: Esteban Andrada, Emiliano Martínez; Juan Foyth, Nehuén Pérez; Nicolás Domínguez, Exequiel Palacios, Guido Rodríguez, Eduardo Salvio, Alejandro Gómez; Lucas Alario, Joaquín Correa and Paulo Dybala.


  1. player ratings :

    GK ARMANI- misjudged a cross in the first half which would have led to a goal for ecuador but other than that didnt have much to do as ecuador didnt have a single shot on or off target.
    emi martinez deserves to start.

    RB MONTIEL- it was his first international game after a long time and since football resumed in argentina only recently it explains his lack of sharpness on the ball and the rustiness in his play.

    LB TAGLIAFICO- had a decent game tracked back well and thwarted ecuador’s attacks and tried to help the team going forward.

    CB MARTINEZ QUARTA- was the best player in the defence and very reliable on the ball with his accurate passing. he was a wall in the defence and has the
    potential to become one of the best centre backs in the world.
    his playing style is similar to sevilla’s jules kounde, amazing technical ability and excellent reading of the game.

    CB OTAMENDI – was prime otamendi in the first half and meme otamendi in the second half. his sloppy moments in the second half would have cost argentina one or two goals and unless he gets regular play time at benfica he needs to be replaced by a young talent for the 2021 copa america.

    CM RODRIGO DE PAUL: poor performance from rodrigo de paul full of running but with no end product.

    CM LEANDRO PAREDES: played okay didnt create often his usual defense splitting passes but did his defensive duties well. made an important interception in the box which if not would have led to a golden chance
    for ecuador to score.

    CM ACUNA: was one of the worst player’s on the pitch, lost the ball everytime the team were in attacking transition . guido rodriguez or papu gomez or even correa should have started ahead of him since they were more match fit as they played regularly for their clubs and also in good form.

    LW OCAMPOS: did win a penalty with a delightful flick and turn but other than that nothing special from him with the usual flop 1v1 take ons. he should have taken acuna’s role in the wide midfield or papu gomez/ correa should have started in his position behind the striker.

    RW messi : played like messi

    LAUTARO MARTINEZ: his pressing made the defender lose the ball which led the counter attack to win the penalty. but other than that he was occasionally losing the ball when the team was close to creating a goalscoring
    chance but other than that he didnt get the service he wanted.

    LIONEL SCALONI’s tactics
    scaloni want his team to move the ball forward quickly and feed it to the attack rather than holding the ball too long in the defensive half .

  2. My thoughts on today’s performances:
    Armani (7): Tested rarely. Apart from the last-minute attack of Ecuador in the 1st half, looked composed.
    Montiel (6): Looked less confident. Several missed passes and heavy touches.
    Martinez Quarta (7.5): Although Argentine defense was not tested that much throughout the match, his attitude and performance looked solid. Definitely ready for the NT. I would rather start Quarta-Pazzella over Quarta-Otamendi.
    Otamendi (6.5): Similarly not tested much but looked shaky at times. Considering his experience with the NT, not a good sign.
    Tagliafico (7): Defensively good show as always. But I miss his attacking display that he shows in Ajax.
    De Paul (6.5): Should have done better in the last minute of the game. Defensively solid game, offensively not so much. It seemed to me that he was instructed not to venture too forward in the attacking areas. Although showed some attacking intent in the last minutes of the match.
    Paredes (6): Same old problem. Some missed passes, lack of concentration on a few occasions. Otherwise, good performance overall. Lack of playing time in the club is reflected in his NT play. He should play more regularly. The problem is there is no one better than him in this current squad.
    Acuna (6): Did well what he was told to do. Defensively solid but no attacking threat or creativity.
    Ocampos (6.5): Kudos for winning the penalty. Otherwise pretty subdued performance compared to his standard. Defensively helped a lot, which is his plus in the NT. But again missed passes, easily fell down under challenge. Should have scored in the second half.
    Messi (7.5): Good and strong penalty. Did not engage in the midfield play that much, maybe that was the instruction. Looked dangerous as always when on the ball, but was dispossessed several times or gave misplaced passes which were uncharacteristic of him. Unlucky not to score another goal. But the most important thing is that he looks happy.
    L. Martinez (6.5): He should train more to improve his holding of the ball under pressure. Didn’t get enough supplies from midfield either.
    Salvio (6): Should have subbed on earlier. Looked promising.
    Alario (5.5): Didn’t get the opportunity to show much.
    N. Dominguez (6): Same as Alario.
    Foyth (6): Scaloni still trusts him. Looked okay in the last few minutes.

    Overall (7): My positive takeaway from the match was the solid defensive display. I’m impressed with Scaloni’s work regarding collective/zonal defense. Ecuador was forced back so many times after getting frustrated being unable to find any space to pass the ball forward. Wing play, which the strong suit of Ecuador, had been dealt with effectively. However, the midfield looked confused when attacking, lack of ideas and creativity. Though, the team showed some sparks of quick attacking display which is promising. This 4-4-2 formation will be defensively compact against Brazil or other strong offensive teams. But it compromises the creativity of the team. Messi needs one more creative partner in the team. Otherwise, we are seeing the same old scenario here. No Messi in midfield, no creativity. Nonetheless, previous teams looked clueless offensively and vulnerable defensively. Al least the defensive performances are looking good so far. I’m sure with enough time with one another, the offensive coherence will develop.

  3. SofaScore Ratings and commentary
    Armani – 7.0 – He was not tested a lot but grabbed the ball out of the air at the right moments. He was not ready in Ecuador’s late first half chance and that could have easily been a goal.
    Montiel – 6.7 – Not a great performance. Many of his passes went out for a throw in and had bad touches. Defensively okay.
    Lucas Martinez Quarta – 6.8 – Had some decent defensive moments and not afraid to take a long pass. Nothing very special though.
    Nicolas Otamendi – 7.1 – Much better than I expected given his Benfica performance.
    Tagliafico – 6.8 – Decent game but nothing special.
    De Paul – 7.0 – Good work rate but no creativity. I question the rating of 7.0.
    Paredes – 6.6 – Got a yellow card. At times he played very deep in the backline and would look like a center back only to get forward when in possession. Had a couple of decent passes but as always nothing special from him.
    Acuna – 6.6 – Based on this performance I definitely don’t want him. No creativity and got injured. I think he is better as a back up option but I guess that’s what he’s doing given Lo Celso.
    Lionel Messi – 7.6 – Highest rating in the team and as we know scored the penalty. Every time he had the ball I thought something special would happen. Although often his good movement would lead to the ball being taken from him, a good shot would be blocked, and a good pass would lead to nothing from the other player.
    Ocampos – 6.6 – He won the penalty, which was good. Apart from that he saw a lot of the ball but it never lead to anything. Poor crosses, passes, touches, and no creativity. Not a good game. Also had a shot which should have been a goal.
    Lautaro Martinez – 6.9 – Another poor and inconsistent performance. Every time he saw the ball (which was not a lot) and there was a good opportunity it didn’t lead to anything. Poor dribbling. Average movement. I expected better.
    Foyth – 6.7 – Came on late but played quite well. My impression that is left is that of a great slide in which he dispossessed an Ecuadorian. Still not enough minutes to say much.
    Dominguez – 6.5 – Came on late with Foyth and played alright, nothing memorable.
    Salvio – 6.6 – I did not want to see him come on. No creativity or good on ball movement.
    Alario – 6.7 – We all remember his run in the last minutes when he passed to Messi who passed it to De Paul who missed his shot. In fact that is the only thing I remember of him. Nothing poor but nothing impressive.

    We got the three points which is all I’m happy about. Apart from that it was a slow and boring game. Too defensive of a strategy against a team who only boasts players that won the Sudamericana. We kept the ball in the same place nearly the whole game, in Ecuador’s half but on the right. Messi and Ocampos would positionally clash a lot. I would have loved to see Papu come on who could have changed the dynamic of the game with creativity. Dominguez and Foyth were defensive substitutions. The referee allowed a lot of heavy tackles against us which screams nothing more than “South American Referee”. I am content with our defense but our midfield was awful. It also felt as if our team had no chemistry at times. I do think it can improve over the next few games. It’s been almost a year of not playing. And we also had many injuries which made this harder. I expected much more but maybe too much based on the factors I just mentioned. Maybe Scaloni wanted us to conserve some energy for La Paz? Anyway not a memorable game but we got the three points which is what matters.

  4. Many football pundits here depicts Paredes and DePaul as world class!!! Forget about world class,they are average players that’s why one is playing for a soon to be relegated club and the other is a supporting player for a tier 1 club.
    Ocampos was nowhere near his best and his level is nowhere near Di Maria.
    Montiel, who the shit is that guy, cannot even complete a pass, nor can he run with a good ball control
    Verdict: It was an absolute disaster class from the whole team cause we failed to beat a worthless team.

    • that is the reason bielsa not hir de paul. he is not that much class. parades is useless he is always using lazy pass, back pass nothing special.
      gustavo alfaro and his teams are more better than argentina. this team will lose against bolivia on 13th oct. and they can win only paraguay. rest all the match they will lose.
      topia: please be ready to hire european coach or else be ready to resign.

  5. Scaloni worst game for Argentina after Colombia in copa 2019, his substitutions are even worsen because of farmers like Alario and Salvio Argentina somehow manage to survive against Ecuador.

  6. A good start and win although still not an impressive game, but acceptable as it is more than 6 months they are not playing together. And still need to be improved and corrected; clear understanding between players and right tempo. Our first half is better with the ball possession and last 8 minutes with Nico Dominquez inclusion are more lively.

    SA Qualification is tough and very competitive, 3 point is important.

  7. My own opinion….
    Goalkeeper= 100% need EMI Martinez
    Monitel out foyth in
    This give u freedom to our midfielder
    Not one single creative player
    As lo celso not playing
    Palacios for acuna
    Dybala for ocumpos

    So my xi

    EMI Martinez.

    Foyth…..Lucas Martinez….Perez/ otamendi….tagliafico

    Palacios…. Parades….de Paul


    dybala. Papu Gomez/ lautaro

  8. Okay let’s start with Messi. Messi can’t do what he normally do. Something is happening with Messi, I follow past 2 Barca game and seem like he forgot how to dribble somehow. As the consequence, Argentina doesnt know how to build up play without Messi initiation. That is universal truth for Argentina for last 5 or 6 years.

    Acuna was pushed back a lot (Maybe his fault or Scaloni tactic) when mean left side is dead the whole game. Sub Salvio, I dont know what he is coming in for, big misery.

    De Paul also play really deep this game. Normally, he play box to box but both him and Paredes decide to play deep in midfield which doesnt help with attack either.

    Okay Lastly, our two full back. Montiel is sub standard to represent Argentina. He doesnt know how to use width on right side. Taglifico, he wasnt come to attack either. I know Argentina is not too keen on playing as wing back but come on, Rojo in 2014 contributed more than any full back these days.

    To summarize, Argentina seem to struggle with physical game and refree didnt help either. Ocompos is the only one who is doing the job. Worst part is that, the whole team can’t pass properly. That’s all my analysis for today game.

  9. Many Football pundits here trying to convince everyday that with Scaloni we can be world beater. But i don’t think we can win any trophy like this We need just another messi magic save Argentina now even he is not young. I am not trying to be harsh just saying what i felt.

    • Scaloni is best in the worst possible options at least he go with strength instead of scientific experiment or own tactical ego like Sampaoli, bielsa or pekerman did. Argentina team has own limitations and it’s better to accept it. Portugal won Euro 2016 with limited sources to their strength, Porto won 2004 UCL doing similar, Argentina can also win trophy. Pekerman wasted Argentina best squad in 2006 to win trophy, Deschamps did it with France 2018. Not always good tactican won tournament sometime excessive knowledge become dangerous and limited knowledge win the battle.

    • My own opinion….
      Goalkeeper= 100% need EMI Martinez
      Monitel out foyth in
      This give u freedom to our midfielder
      Not one single creative player
      As lo celso not playing
      Palacios for acuna
      Dybala for ocumpos

      So my xi

      EMI Martinez.

      Foyth…..Lucas Martinez….Perez/ otamendi….tagliafico

      Palacios…. Parades….de Paul


      dybala. Papu Gomez/ lautaro

    • I wanted Papu on as a sub, and when I saw Salvio I couldn’t believe my eyes. Should not be selected for the team and much less to play.

  10. It was a classic south american street fight. It is not possible to play beautiful when opponent is very physical and referee allows the legit physicality. Happy that we won. But, there was no creativity. It could have easily been 0-0 and that would have been a disaster. Di Maria should be anyday over Salvio.

    When your goal keeper is poor in distribution then it creates unnecessary pressure on midfield and defense to recover the ball. Armani is very poor with his feet and that characteristic is enough to put him in sub bench while similar or better keepers are available.
    Otamendi is brilliant as always with NT.

    Argentina matched up with physicality and won. They need to instill creativity from somewhere. In the end that matters.

    • How Otamendi is brilliant? He was very shaky. He has no brain. Thats the reason he got yellow card. He tackles too much he dont know how to play calm. He is always on the floor. Even he cant make clearance without lying on the ground.

  11. Armani clam between the sticks and command well, though not tested much. Ocumpos is the worst version of Dimaria (2010-2015). Lo Celso is the key in midfield, hope palacios back in best soon.

    • Absolutely correct, don’t know what the fuck is wrong!!!Why Argentina always fail to play the best 11??
      Ocampos who is hyped here way too much, is absolutely a poor man’s Dimaria.
      Moreover, why the hell Papu Gomez didn’t play and Dybala was not even the bench?

  12. Defense first approach. Allowed Ecuador to play. Yes happy for 3 points. Nothing else.
    Foyth is a good player. Even without much game time he is still good. I like Quarta too.

  13. Why Icardi is must for Argentina? When Argentina need a goal badly and Lautaro not played at his best substitute world class player with farmer Alario says everything.

    • In a game where the last push and build up was the issue Icardi is the last thing we want. If everyone else is feeding balls and playing very attacking then sure.

      • Icardi is not ideal with this type of team play no build up no crosses. Icardi would be a waste. I love Icardi but bringing him with this midfield wont be beneficial.

  14. Very poor and weak team …no strategy ,no tactics, no good player selection , no good substitution… Scaloni and his staff are bullshits … AFA are not up to the level … sack them all … otherwise we will not pass to WC 2022 …!!!!!!!will be demolished against medium or strong opponents… sooner or later Scaloni will be out … I think after 3 ,4 official matches …..!!!

    • that is the reason European cluster are keeping arg players on bench.
      there is no coach is get out the result from messi.
      Argentina should hire Spanish coach like Enrique, pep, Bosque otherwise this team never win anytime. note my words.
      there is no ball play between keeper and players. straight away shooting it will land to Ecuador
      no build-up play from keeper. there is no confident in Armani ball play.
      Ecuador and Gustavo is more better than Argentina team.

      messi: plz retire because you don’t spoil your name with this bullshit team. you choose Spain and play there definitely you will win more trophies.

  15. My opinion: how they played, not their capability.




    Better team: Ecuador- they wanted to win.

    Lessons learned:
    1. Run, press, off-ball movement
    2. Must play one of LoCelso or Dybala.

  16. I can’t believe some of these fans!!! Argentina must release the ball early?? What are you guys watching?

    Shielding the ball and showing your body is a valid tactic. If your fouled the ref has to call it. And now Acuna almost got his leg broken and not even a yellow shown.

  17. I want to appreciate our coaching staff specially our defence coaching staff,Ayalla and other respective members they are really doing well.

  18. Otamendi is something else with national team. Ocampus was nowhere near his best. Argentina defence is good,Montiel looked shaky, neither good in defence nor in attack.Some people unnecessary rate him very high,he needs to increase his speed.

    • Ocampos had a heavy presence in the game which was good but every attempted dribble, cross or forward pass wasn’t enough. If he had been his best, given how much of the ball he had, he would have destroyed Ecuador. Too bad.

    • Sarava is betterbthan montiel.
      worst team selection, worst play, worst skills, worst pass, worst goal Kee,.
      messi plz don’t spoil your name with this bullshit team.
      u never win the trophy.
      plz choose Spain and play there . Spain players will collect more trophies for u

  19. martinez quarta and otamendi amazing game until the end of the first half where ecuador could have scored.

    montiel a bit rusty

    rodrigo de paul also full of running but lack of end product.
    papu gomez should have started over lautaro or acuna .
    ftw was armani doing at the set piece it could have led to an ecuador goal, this is why we should have started emi martinez he is literally the best in the premier league when it comes to charging out and grabbing the ball in set pieces.

    tagliafico decent game nothing special.

    ocampos also the usual flicks which did lead to the goal but other than that nothing special.

    messi as usual the best, paredes also decent but needs to be careful in second half due to yellow card

  20. Relax everyone.
    This is the first game together after a while break. Dybala is injured and lots of players are off. Let few games sink in. We need points now.

    • Mate we said the same thing last qualifiers against Peru and again vs. Colombia. We qualified based on magic and the rest as they say is ‘horse-shit’. We have to play like we mean it.

      • I understand but still its the first game. to be honest i ll be Happy to get a point in La Paz.
        Last time we messed up in the middle games we cant have that now. Lets hope the team grows and get their chemistry back and dont mess up in the midpoint. Remember last time there was no pandemic and it was a different team under different coaches but this time they had a long break. Situation is not the same. We gotta give them this excuse.

  21. Come on Argentina show some balls and some creativity. I’m tired of seeing minnows play better than us…. I must admit Ecu are better on the ball than we are.. where is the movement, the build up play, the one-touch passing?

  22. Gk: where is Emi?

    Defence : bullshit. No physical players. Only ball playing defenders are on the field. Will conced at least 5 goals against European team.

    Midfield : Need to remove Acuna immediately

    Forward : Only hope. Lets see

  23. Martinez Quarta was a better player in the first half also Otamendi did pretty well montiel did okay not bad nor good

    • Acuna should not more than a squad player, doesn’t deserve to start in playing 11 totally useless he is in midfield.

  24. This match shows people are unnecessary hating on Otamendi,Quarta looked good. Argentina defence is solid
    Otamendi Pezella best pair. Midfield is disaster. Montiel, Ocampus, Lautaro are worst player in first half. Messi, Otamendi, Quarta, Tagliafico, Acuna were best. Paredes with some defence splitting passes.

  25. Ocampos Won the penalty but he is doing nothing he needs to go on the right side needs to start dribbling and create chance

  26. Argentina midfield has zero creativity, Acuna is useless. Ocumpos played like headless chicken, apart from penalty won did nothing. Montiel isn’t good enough for RB spot, hope Molina shines in Udinese. Second half acuna must be taken off for palacios and Dybala/papu for ocumpos. Defense isn’t tested much but looks shakey at times, until Amani and otamendi is there heart beat running fast. Lautaro not in the game so far where messi masterclass have made the difference.

  27. We didn’t create a single chance.
    De Paul was the worst player in the first half.
    There is no creativity at all and no movements off the ball either.

  28. Some hard tackles but players are diving way too much. They need to stay the eff up as its weakening the attack or opening opportunity for Ecuador. Glad the ref isn’t whistle crazy.

  29. 4-4-2 is not working at all….we have to go back to 4-3-1-2 with a more balanced mid…..left side is nonexistence in this whole match….maybe ocompass should go to left side….right side is too overloaded with no support for lautaro

    • Yes Jack. As many had acknowledged this is the issue with relying on Acuna to provide midfield support in 442 (4222). He does good job of stretching wide but unlike ocampos just does not have the knowledge of when to attack open spaces in the central areas.

  30. Armani over Emi Martinez.Emi Martinez is better keeper but Scaloni think other way. Worst decision. Armani can not hack into any Premiere League team as starting goalkeeper.

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