Chile and Argentina, in front of a crowd one writer described as “seventy-three people and a few dogs,” played to a 0-0 stinker at the LA Coliseum on Thursday night.
In what was billed as a matchup between two South American giants lost its luster when Lionel Messi, yet to play this season for Barcelona, withdrew from the Argentina squad days ago due to injury. No one was able to rescue the match, with the two teams combining for just two shots on target and 21 fouls in the first half. The second half was marred by mass substitutions commonplace in new-age friendlies, sapping the match of any flow it hoped to construct.
Both teams produced strong lineups, although Argentina rested a few first-teamers like Franco Armani, Marcos Rojo, and Manuel Lanzini. Still, the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso, and Charles Aranguiz were powerless to inject the game with any kind of cohesion or beauty.
All told, the two teams each shared 50% possession, there were four total shots on target, 39 fouls, and 10 yellow cards. There was one excitable moment in the final five minutes of the match as River Plate center-back Lucas Martinez – on his international debut – rose to head a corner off the crossbar, but that was as close as either side would come to an unlikely goal.
Next up for both teams, Chile takes on Honduras in San Pedro Sula, while Argentina meets Mexico in San Antonio on Tuesday.