Messi just 6/10 after another penalty failure in Argentina draw with Iceland

Argentina have it all to do in Group D after a faltering start in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Iceland. With the same lack of team play and an over-reliance on Lionel Messi they displayed throughout qualifying, the Albiceleste must improve against Croatia in their next match.

Messi endured a tough afternoon, squandering the chance to win it with a missed penalty in the second half to continue his miserable record from the spot. He's now missed four of his last penalties for Barcelona and Argentina.


Sergio Aguero is back, looking fit and taking his goal well. Aside from that, it's hard to name any. The Argentine press have underestimated Iceland for weeks, and the upshot is that this result feels like the end of the world.


The defence remains the main obstacle to success, with goalkeeper Willy Caballero unable to step up sufficiently behind them. For all his lack of playing time, Sergio Romero has never let his country down, and the decision to not wait and see how he recovered from injury looks set to weigh on Argentina in this tournament.

Manager rating out of 10

4 -- The formation practically picks itself with this squad, so the biggest decision Jorge Sampaoli had to make for this match was the makeup of central midfield. Pairing Lucas Biglia with Javier Mascherano meant Argentina were too often ponderous playing the ball forward, and the team suffered as a result. Introducing Ever Banega -- who's only been in full training since Wednesday -- failed to improve matters.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Willy Caballero, 4 -- He didn't have an awful lot to do, but at the crucial moment, the Chelsea man spilt the cross which led to the Iceland goal from Alfred Finnbogason. It might be harsh to give such a low rating after one mistake, but that's the life of the goalkeeper in a match like this one.

DF Eduardo Salvio, 6 -- Salvio was meant to be more of a winger than a full-back, and he fulfilled that role on the right without ever excelling at it.

DF Nicolas Otamendi 4, -- Lost his man for the Iceland goal, and saw his team punished as a result. Neither centre-back was up to par when called upon in the first half.

DF Marcos Rojo, 4 -- An error early on playing the ball in from the left of his own box was an advance warning; the defending from both centre backs for the Iceland equaliser was below par. Like Otamendi, Rojo had little to do and failed to step up.

MF Nicolas Tagliafico, 5 -- Fine going forward, but he let his man escape him for Iceland's equaliser, and faded in attack as the game wore on.

MF Javier Mascherano 6, -- Like Biglia alongside him, Mascherano was part of a midfield which was overly cautious, but did as well as could be expected of him in the circumstances.

Lucas Biglia, 6 -- The combination of him and Mascherano in the midfield was a tactical mistake, but Biglia didn't put a foot wrong, distributing tidily enough while also not standing out above the crowd.

MF Maximiliano Meza 6, -- Had the unenviable task of having to replace the injured Manuel Lanzini, who had several weeks in training to be Messi's partner in attacking midfield before being ruled out just a week ago. He showed flashes of his ability, but found it difficult to cope with the congestion when he cut inside, and didn't link closely enough with the Barcelona star. It was his run which drew the penalty that should have won the game for Argentina, though.

FW Lionel Messi, 6 -- This would have been a 7, but it's hard not to knock off a mark for failing to score a penalty, even if he did everything else well enough. He didn't grab his team by the scruff of the neck and drag them through the match, but aside from his failure from the spot he did as much as reasonably could be expected. Needed a little more help from his teammates.

FW Angel Di Maria 4, -- How does one quantify a performance in which as soon as the player leaves the pitch, it's difficult to remember a single contribution from him? Not for the first time in the last 12 months, Di Maria was anonymous on the left flank, and this was starkly underlined when he was replaced by Cristian Pavon, who immediately made things happen.

FW Sergio Aguero, 7 -- Didn't have a lot of service, but took his goal explosively to underline why he has to be the first choice centre-forward ahead of Gonzalo Higuain.


MF Ever Banega 5, -- Banega can be brilliant for Argentina, but he can also be infuriatingly off his game, and you never quite know which version you're going to get. Today's performance was summed up in the moment, around the 84th minute, when he got in the way of Messi's shot after the main man had sidestepped a defender.

FW Cristian Pavon, 7 -- Normally, he'd have come on too late for a rating, but given that he instantly did more than Di Maria had in 74 minutes before him, and probably should have been given a penalty after being tripped in the box two minutes after being introduced, the Boca man has to be pushing to start subsequent games.

FW Gonzalo Higuain, N/R -- Introduced late on, and couldn't do anything to change the match.