Lionel Messi: ‘Intense’ Uruguay play with Marcelo Bielsa’s style

Lionel Messi could not help Argentina extend their unbeaten streak since winning the World Cup and after the match he credited countryman and former national team coach Marcelo Bielsa for implementing his style on Uruguay.

Uruguay beat Argentina 2-0 at La Bombonera Stadium in Buenos Aires on Thursday — their second big win under new coach Bielsa after beating Brazil 2-1 in October. The result handed Argentina their first loss in a competitive match since the World Cup group-stage opener against Saudi Arabia during last year’s finals in Qatar.

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“You can see Bielsa’s hand on the way Uruguay is playing,” Messi said after the match. “In all the national teams or clubs, including Argentina, his style was very recognizable. And he has a good generation of players [in Uruguay].”

Argentina still lead the 10-team South American qualifying group with 12 points from five matches, but Uruguay are second with 10 points and were aggressive from the start against the World Cup champions.

“They are an intense team and it was difficult for us to play our game,” Messi said. “They have physical and fast players in the midfield. We never feel comfortable and we didn’t find a way to posses the ball for a long period of time.

“So the game was played on a fast pace and we fall for that style, which isn’t the best for us.”

Nahuel Molina beat his defender on the end line and gently rolled a low cross into the penalty area where Ronald Araújo smashed it into the back of the net for Uruguay’s opener before half-time and Liverpool striker Darwin Núñez doubled the lead late in the second half.

The historic result for Uruguay marked the first time they’d beaten Argentina in an away World Cup qualifier and brought to an end a 25-game unbeaten run in qualifying for Lionel Scaloni’s side.

“We never felt comfortable in this match,” Messi said. “Uruguay is a physical team, they have good teamwork. It is always like that against them.”

Messi’s close friend Luis Suárez, who just returned to the Uruguayan national team, did not play.

Argentina play again on Tuesday against Brazil, who were beaten 2-1 by Colombia for their second loss in a row, while Uruguay host Bolívia on the same day.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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