Argentina Without Messi and Scaloni Completes the Formality and Beats Peru

Argentina beat Peru
Argentina beat Peru (Credit: Getty Images)

From Mexico to Chile, many Latin American fans tend to unite at World Cups and other tournaments under the cry of “Latin America, except Argentina,” a song that makes it clear that, at least in soccer, Latin American sentiment does not include the homeland of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. One of the exceptions is Peru, a country intertwined with Argentina by a historical fraternal relationship that is also transferred to the stadiums, like the flag that the Peruvian delegation showed in Buenos Aires in 1985, three years after the Falkland Islands War: “For Peru, the Malvinas are always Argentine.”

Also Read: Vinicius Junior Wakes up Brazil in the Copa America

The camaraderie, however, is shattered when the ball starts rolling: Peru has not beaten Argentina for 17 games. In that overwhelming superiority, even with an alternative team and without Lionel Messi or most of its usual starters, Argentina beat Peru 2-0 this Saturday in Miami and finished giving it the final push to consummate its elimination from the Copa America United States 2024. Argentina, which had already qualified for the quarterfinals, secured first place in Group A.

The goals were scored by Lautaro Martinez in the 2nd and 41st minutes of the second half. The Inter striker, who had already scored against Canada and Chile, is now the top scorer in the Copa America, with four goals. The difference in the score could have been even greater if Leandro Paredes had not missed a penalty, also in the second half. So far in the 21st century, Peru has never beaten Argentina: its last victory was 2-1 in the Copa America, in Bolivia in 1997.

In search of defending the title won in the last season of the Cup, that of Brazil 2021, Messi’s team won first place in Group A with an ideal score and without having conceded goals (9 units, +5 in goal difference ). Their next step will be the quarterfinals this Thursday in Houston against the second in zone B. The rival of the also current world champion will surely emerge from this Sunday’s duel between Ecuador (3 points, +1 in goal difference) and Mexico (3 points, 0), while Venezuela (6 points, +2) will have a draw against Jamaica (0, -3) to secure first place and avoid Argentina.

Peru (1 point, -3) did not even fulfill its part, that of winning, to wait for the other match that also defined its chances, Canada 0 – Chile 0 that gave second place to the Americans. The soulless Peruvian passage through the United States, the last in its group, confirms the collapse of the team after the departure of Ricardo Gareca, the coach who led the selection for a World Cup, Russia 2018, after 36 years. Also last in the Conmebol classification for the 2026 World Cup, with only 2 points out of a possible 18, Peru did not come out from obscurity in the United States.

Not only that. The Peruvian team, which in 2025 will celebrate half a century since the last continental title it won (in 1975), achieved a negative historical record: for the first time in its 34 participations, it ended its time in a Copa America without having scored goals. The problem carries over from the previous cycle, that of Juan Reynoso, to the point that the Peruvian team also did not score in the first five games of the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers, a drought recently interrupted on the sixth date, the last to be played so far. However under the direction of Jorge Fossati, Peru also did not find offensive solutions against Chile, Canada, and Argentina.

If the United States Copa America without Messi loses almost as much as soccer without the ball, Argentina was a team with less charm and electricity than usual against Peru. The 2-0, was deserved and could even have been greater. Argentina is such a serious team that even with a team of substitutes – and with young people like Alejandro Garnacho or Valentin Carboni, 19 years old – they are more than enough against rivals without generational change like Peru. Paolo Guerrero and his 40 years are a symbol of that withered present.

In a game with little rhythm, perhaps due to the heat of Miami and a playing field that was far from ideal for soccer – as usually happens with American football stadiums, in this case, the home of the Miami Dolphins – the current champion of America still ensured possession of the ball from the beginning to the point that they ended the night with an Irresistible possession of 74%. The always-correct Pedro Gallese prevented the goal in the first half with 2 great saves, against Paredes and Giovani Lo Celso, but in the second half, he could no longer obstruct the double from Lautaro Martinez, a forward on a streak with 4 goals of Argentina’s five in the Cup, the Italian Inter man claims the position that Julian Alvarez won for him in Qatar 2022.

Solid in defense – they have not conceded a goal in their first three games since 1989, as they have now – Argentina is a team that also gives the impression of offensive power: sooner or later, with starters or substitutes, they will score a goal. Against Peru, their coach, Lionel Scaloni, was also not on the bench, having been suspended by Conmebol for having delayed his return to the field at half-time against Canada and Chile, but the presence of his assistant Walter Samuel did not prevent another victory, the third in a row.

Injured at the start of the previous match against Chile, Messi still sat on the bench against Peru, even though it was known that he would not be able to play. It is clear that, for the good of Argentina and the relief of the tournament’s organization, the number 10 will play again on Thursday in the quarterfinals, against Mexico or Ecuador – Venezuela being less likely. The question is how much he will have recovered from the discomfort he suffered in his right leg: it seems unlikely that he will reach 100%. Even so, without its best player, Argentina showed that it also wins without Messi. And especially if Peru is in front, its favorite friend-victim of the 21st century.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *