Argentina 1-0 Ecuador: What Were The Key Talking Points As Messi Inspires La Albiceleste To An Opening Qualifying Victory?


With all eyes falling on Buenos Aires in the early hours of Friday, Argentina opened their World Cup qualifying campaign with a gritty 1-0 victory at home against Ecuador.

Making their first competitive appearance since being crowned world champions for the first time since 1986 last winter, it was unsurprisingly La Albiceleste’s record-breaking icon who dragged them over the finish line.

Producing a trademark moment of magic just 12 minutes before the final whistle as Lionel Messi whipped his free-kick into the top corner, Lionel Scaloni’s side would have simply been relieved to open their qualifying adventure with a rugged victory on home soil.

Eventually breaking down what was a gritty Ecuador side here and extending on their remarkable purple patch, La Tri must try and take away some positives from a stern opening showdown in Buenos Aires.

Although Friday’s guests might have been more than aware that they faced a monumental challenge on foreign soil, the Tricolors will know that there are certainly easier tests down the road.

In what was often a nervy affair from Buenos Aires in the early hours of Friday, we have taken a look at the key talking points.

Argentina at their rugged best once again

Making major history out in Qatar last winter amidst emotional scenes from across Argentina as the South American heavyweights got their hands on a first world crown since 1986, La Albiceleste are riding what has been a record-breaking wave of momentum.

While there might have been plenty of scrutiny over their decision to appoint Scaloni back in 2018, Argentina have only continued to demonstrate what a smart decision that was five years ago.

Eventually edging past France following that iconic penalties victory back on December 18th, Friday’s hosts have now remarkably suffered just a single loss from any of their last 42 straight appearances across all competitions – a run that stems all the way back to July 2019.

Opening their qualifying adventure with what was a rugged but deserved 1-0 win here, it is no surprise that the reigning world champions are seen as a standout contender to hold off bitter rivals Brazil and claim top spot.

Leapfrogging France and now sat at the top of the FIFA international rankings, it remains to be seen who can stop Scaloni’s high-flying squad.

Next seen in a few days time when they make the trip to Bolivia, Argentina will be smelling the chance to make another early statement and extend on their record-breaking romp.

Messi underlines his Ballon d’Or credentials

Left frustrated for large spells on either side of the half-time break, there was always only going to be one man who would drag Argentina over the finish line here.

Producing a trademark stunning free-kick just 12 minutes before the final whistle and sending the home support into overdrive, the 36-year-old once again underlined his Ballon d’Or credentials in the early hours of Friday.

Guiding the South American icons to a first world crown in almost four decades out in Qatar and following in the footsteps of his of his idol Diego Maradona, Messi finds himself in the midst of what has been another history-making flurry.

While many might have been shocked to see the former Barcelona legend make the move to MLS outfit Inter Miami this summer, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has only continued to shine since arriving in the United States.

Cementing his spot as the MLS’ new poster boy and already notching 11 strikes across all competitions for the Herons, it is no surprise that Messi is once again seen as a standout contender to get his hands on yet another Ballon d’Or crown this year.

Dragging Argentina to an opening qualifying victory here, La Albiceleste’s record-breaking talisman certainly laid down an early statement in Buenos Aires.

Ecuador will know that there are easier tests down the road

While Ecuador might have travelled out to Qatar last winter with the mood in their camp at a real high, it is no secret that Friday’s guests missed out on what they had billed as a golden opportunity in the Middle East.

Winning just one of their three group stage appearances and failing to punch their knockout stage ticket, Felix Sanchez Bas’ side do have some pressure on their shoulders this time around.

However, despite eventually falling to more Messi magic in Buenos Aires and slumping to a late 1-0 loss here, La Tri will be more than aware that easier tests await down the line.

Heading into Friday’s opener by winning each of their final three friendly appearances, Ecuador must take some positives away from what was a largely gritty performance on foreign soil.

Frustrating the reigning world champions on either side of the half-time break, Bas’ men certainly don’t have much time to feel sorry for themselves.

Knowing how crucial a top-six finish is this time around, Ecuador will be next seen late on Tuesday night when they welcome Uruguay to Quito.

Match Report

Argentina: Martinez, Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico, De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister, Gonzalez, Messi, Martinez

Subs: Paredes, Alvarez, Di Maria, Palacios

Ecuador: Galindez, Hurtado, Torres, Arboleda, Pacho, Estupinan, Caicedo, Gruezo, Cifuentes, Plata, Valencia

Subs: Mena, Rodriguez, Ortiz, Preciado

Goals: Messi (78’)

Yellow Cards: Argentina: Paredes – Ecuador: Cifuentes

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Wilmar Roldan

2 comments : Argentina 1-0 Ecuador: What Were The Key Talking Points As Messi Inspires La Albiceleste To An Opening Qualifying Victory?

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