Football Features

“A perpetual disaster” – Messi’s magic cancelled out as Argentina held to disappointing draw by Chile in Copa America opener

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 0:50, 15 June 2021

In a tight night of football, Argentina opened their Copa America with a 1-1 draw against Chile.

Argentina were the favourites but missed a host of chances outside of Leo Messi’s free-kick, allowing Chile to sneak their way back into the contest and then hold on for a very impressive draw.

Here’s how the players rated at Estadio Nilton Santos:


Emiliano Martinez – 7 – A solid display. Made a sensational save from Vidal’s penalty and was unlucky the ball hit the bar and fell right back into Chile’s path for an easy rebound.

Gonzalo Montiel – 6 – Decent in defence but offered little in attack.

Lucas Martinez Quarta – 7 – A stabilising presence at the back, helping repel the Chileans. Couldn’t fully shut down opponents.

Nicolas Otamendi – 4 – Looked the more skittish of the two defenders. Failed to block the through-ball that led to Chile’s penalty and didn’t exude any sort of command. A perpetual disaster. How he started over Lisandro Martinez is a mystery.

Nicolas Tagliafico – 5 – A constant source of width on the left but also conceded the penalty that drew Chile level with a desperate kick.

Leandro Paredes – 7 – Was impressive at the base of midfield in possession, helping to move forwards at pace.

Rodrigo De Paul – 7 – A dynamic and energetic force in the midfield.

Giovani Lo Celso – 8 – Made some special runs forward and played some very impressive passes as he looked to break down the Chilean defence with his through-balls and vision. One pass to set Gonzalez free was particularly delightful.

Leo Messi – 8 – Some wonderfully deft touches and movements that could have led to more were he adequately supported by his team-mates. Messi looked dangerous whenever he picked up the ball, including when he thundered Argentina into a 1-0 lead with a fantastic free-kick – giving him more competitive goals for Argentina (39) than anyone else in history (and more free-kick goals for Argentina (7) than anyone in history). Constantly seems to be at war with his own team as often as opponents, trying in vain to guide Argentina to some kind of victory, but his own individual genius cannot be questioned.

Nicolas Gonzalez – 4 – A supreme bundle of energy and movement that nevertheless used the ball poorly. His runs off-the-ball were appreciated by the likes of Messi and Lo Celso but he wasted multiple chances to score as Argentina struggled in vain to find a winner thanks mostly to his poor finishing.

Lautaro Martinez- 5 – His movement was very good but the truth is that the lacked the killer instinct Argentina needed him to have.


Angel Di Maria (for Lo Celso 67′) – 4 – Gave the ball away repeatedly.

Ezequiel Palacios (for Paredes 68′) – 5 – Added little.

Joaquin Correa (for Gonzalez 80′) – 5 – Needed more time.

Sergio Aguero (for Lautaro 80′) – n/a – Came on late.

Nahuel Molina (for Montiel 85′) – n/a – Came on late.


Claudio Bravo – 8 – Made several big stops to keep Argentina at bay. Beaten only by a superhuman free-kick.

Mauricio Isla – 7 – Constantly in the wars but often an effective bulwark against Argentina.

Gary Medel – 7 – Often looked his age against a younger, sharper attack but was still so important.

Guillermo Maripan – 8 – The rock Chile’s defence was built around including one seemingly impossible tackle on Leo Messi.

Eugenio Mena – 7 – Another solid display from the full-back as he defended his flank well.

Erick Pulgar – 7 – A very impressive shield ahead of the Chile defence. Not afraid to get stuck in.

Charles Aranguiz – 6 – Some good set-pieces.

Arturo Vidal – 5 – Despite no longer being able to compete, Vidal still charged around the pitch and gave everything he had to try and compete. Missed his penalty but he did well to win it in the first place and the rebound was tucked away anyway.

Carlos Palacios – 6 – Lively.

Jean David Meneses – 6 – His movement caused Argentina no end of problems but he barely if ever used the ball well.

Eduardo Vargas – 7 – Chile’s most dangerous outlet in attack. Helped to win the penalty and of course pounced on the rebound to head Chile level on the scoresheet. An actually huge goal.


Ben Brereton (for Palacios 77′) – 6 – English-born Brereton came on in the second-half for his Chile debut.

Cesar Pinares (for Vargas 77′) – 6 – Helped shore up midfield.

Enzo Roco (for Medel 84′) – n/a – Came on late.

Tomas Alarcon (for Vidal 85′) – n/a – Came on late.

Pablo Galdames (for Meneses 90’+3) – n/a – Came on late.