12 October 2014 16:23
Argentina round off their tour of Asia against Hong Kong on Tuesday with the Superclasico defeat to Brazil still fresh in the memory.
A Diego Tardelli brace handed Brazil victory in the Superclasico de las Americas on Saturday as Argentina suffered their first defeat of the Gerardo Martino era.
Martino’s men were on top in large spells of the fixture in Beijing, but were undone by some sloppy defending – captain Lionel Messi seeing his first-half penalty saved by Jefferson.
Argentina are again likely to enjoy much of the possession against a side ranked 164th in the world, but Martino will be eager for the World Cup finalists to find the goalscoring touch that saw them put four past world champions Germany in September.
Defender Pablo Zabaleta, partly at fault for Brazil’s opener in Beijing, is not overly concerned by the setback and explained the defeat will serve as part of a learning process under Martino.
“Unfortunately we were unable to score and especially with the penalty that we had – it would have changed the game,” he told reporters at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
“In the second half they pulled back a little to counter-attack and it became more difficult. While there is much to improve, we have to think about Tuesday’s match.
“We are in a changing process, with a new manager. It will take a while until we know each other better.
“I hate losing and more so against Brazil, but it is part of the learning.”
Focus for Argentina is now very much on the Copa America in Chile next year and Tuesday’s friendly at the Hong Kong Stadium will be their penultimate fixture of the year.
Martino’s side will take on Portugal in November before the home straight into the South American showpiece, which gets under way in June.
Tuesday’s hosts are in competitive action shortly after their friendly with Argentina, contesting the second preliminary round of the East Asian Cup in November.
Fixtures against North Korea, Chinese Taipei and Guam follow for Kim Pan-gon’s side, who will look to book a place in the final stage of the competition – held in Wuhan in August.