Carlos Tevez has issued a rallying call for Argentina to change their attitude in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying or risk starting with successive defeats when Gerardo Martino’s men meet Paraguay on Tuesday.
Martino’s side suffered a surprise 2-0 reverse at the hands of Ecuador in the opening round of fixtures in the qualifying process for the 2018 showpiece, late goals from Frickson Erazo and Felipe Caicedo sealing victory in Buenos Aires.
Argentina were without inspirational captain Lionel Messi for the clash due to his knee ligament injury and suffered a further blow as Sergio Aguero limped off with a hamstring problem.
Both will be missing from Tuesday’s clash in Asuncion, with Tevez saying the rest of the squad must “face up to the situation” and get their campaign back on track.
Tevez criticised the professionalism of Martino’s men against Ecuador and expects to see an instant reaction.
“The qualifiers are different and it became clear on Thursday that they are harder than a Copa America match or a friendly,” said the Boca Juniors forward.
“But on Thursday there was a lack of attitude. That is what we talked about. The team did not turn up at any time and that is what most worries us.
“We did not make a good start to the qualifiers, but we will have another chance on Tuesday.”
Paraguay will not make it easy for their illustrious opponents, though, as they look to claim back-to-back wins after beating Venezuela 1-0 in their opener thanks to Derlis Gonzalez’s 85th-minute strike.
However, history is not on their side having failed to win their last five matches against Argentina – and conceding 20 goals in the process.
The two nations met twice in this year’s Copa America, with Argentina romping to a 6-1 success in the semi-finals having drawn 2-2 in the group stages.
Head coach Ramon Diaz – who himself is Argentinian – believes his squad have grown since that heavy defeat in the last four and thinks the battling spirit against Venezuela shows they can beat Argentina for the first time since 2009.
“We wanted to start [qualifying] well, show the football world that Paraguay is back to fight again,” he said.
“To play against Argentina is special. It’s going to be different from the other two [meetings this year]. We are at home, with our fans.
“Of course [we can win], it happened for Ecuador so Paraguay can also beat Argentina.”