No Messi, no problem: Argentina beats Bolivia 3-0 in La Paz

Enzo Fernández, Nicolás Tagliafico, and Nicolás González all scored the goals for the Albiceleste

Argentina’s men’s national football team defeated Bolivia 3-0 on Tuesday in the second fixture of the South American Qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup. The match was played at Hernando Siles Stadium in La Paz, 3,577 meters a.s.l.

In the first half, Enzo Fernández scored in the 30th minute and Nicolás Tagliafico scored in the 41st minute for the Albiceleste. Nicolás González added Argentina’s third goal in the 38th minute of the second half. 

Coached by Argentine Gustavo Costas, La Verde is hoping to make its first World Cup appearance in 32 years. Bolivia was down a man after the 38th minute of the first half when Roberto Fernández was sent off for stepping on Cristian “Cuti” Romero’s foot.

Argentina won easily against a sluggish Bolivian side with their captain, Lionel Messi, watching from the bench. His talents weren’t needed.

The team looked unaffected by the always-feared altitude of La Paz in its march to the 2026 World Cup, which will be played in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Lionel Scaloni’s team extended its unbeaten run in the South American qualifiers behind great performances from captain Ángel Di María, who contributed two assists; Enzo Fernández; Julian lvarez; and the entire defensive unit. 

The national team has suffered only two defeats in the last four years: against Brazil at the Copa América in 2019 and Saudi Arabia in the 2022 World Cup opener.

Towards the end of the match, Scaloni brought on Madrid-born Alejandro Garnacho, who plays for Manchester United. The appearance, his third for La Seleccion, guarantees that Garnacho will be able to play for the Argentine national team for the foreseeable future.

Argentina’s arrival in La Paz kicked off a Messi-craze, with many locals supporting the Albiceleste over their own team. Tickets for the match sold out in record time, with the Bolivian Football Federation (FBF) announcing a revenue of over US$1 million — the highest in the team’s history. On Saturday, over 600 people welcomed Argentina’s players to the Bolivian capital.

Argentina will continue its qualifiers on October 12 against Paraguay at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires before facing Peru on October 17 in Lima.


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