Argentina’s national football team appears to be in crisis mode.
Despite Lionel Messi’s return to the fold, the ‘‘Albiceleste’‘ are consistently misfiring and now their qualification for the next World Cup in Russia is in serious jeopardy.
Last Thursday at the Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil completely outclassed Edgardo Bauza’s team.
Brazil had little trouble in running Argentina ragged in the 3-0 victory as the visitors struggled to make any sort of impression on the match.
Although Argentina’s defeat represented their fourth game without a win, coach Bauza refuses to talk about a crisis just yet.
‘‘Obviously, I don’t like it,’‘ he said: ‘‘I would like to win and to be good but well, we are in a difficult situation where Argentina have lost precious points and hurts us. The reason does not matter but it all depends on us now, that is what is important and I see that the team has a lot of desire and a lot of force.”
Messi was making his return from three games out injured and was largely anonymous, as were strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria.
Second half sub Sergio Aguero also failed to make a dent.
Messi’s Barcelona club-mate Neymar had no such trouble for Brazil and scored on the night as did Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho.
It was Neymar’s 50th goal for his country and after 74 gaps, he is fourth in the Brazilian all-time scorer’s list 27 goals behind record holder Pele.
Neymar also provided the assist for Coutinho’s opener.
After 11 games Argentina are sixth in the qualification group with seven games left and only the top four automatically qualifying.
The two-time World Cup champions have reached the final of their last three major tournaments, but they are now staring down the barrel of an embarrassing failure to even reach the main event in just under two years time.
Brazil, meanwhile, are flying high as is their coach Tite, who after arriving in June has won his first five games in charge.
After their latest victory Brazil top their South American qualification group on 24 points, one clear of Uruguay.
Up next up for Argentina is Colombia on Tuesday and losing is not an option.
Colombia are currently third in the group and will look to cement that position in San Juan with a win over the misfiring Argentines.
The pressure will be on Messi to produce something special on Tuesday but Argentina’s defence will also have to greatly improve from their disastrous performance against Brazil if they are to prevent the proficient counter-attacking Colombians from adding to their misery.