Humiliating, hopeless, horrific: just a few of the adjectives you could use to describe Argentina’s 3-0 loss to Brazil on Thursday night. Lionel Messi, as succinct as ever, opted for “shit”. That works too. On the back of that defeat, the Selección reached a new low in what has been a dismal qualifying campaign. Now, the prospect that Messi and his teammates might not feature at all in the 2018 World Cup in Russia is edging closer and closer to reality. But all that can change in tonight’s mammoth clash against Colombia.

The Albiceleste currently sit in 6th position in the CONMEBOL qualifying table, with a mere two points separating 3rd (Colombia) from themselves. With a victory, Argentina would rise above Colombia and, depending on other results, could go into the next round of fixtures in March in 3rd position. But that’s a huge ‘if’.

Read more: Road To World Cup: Pressure Builds On Bauza But Argentina Isn’t Dead Yet

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Currently in sixth, Argentina could find themselves in third position by the end of this round of fixtures

According to many figures within the Argentine camp, one of the principal problems at the moment is morale. It’s fairly ironic then that the very man brought in to provide leadership and a boost to morale, Ezequiel Lavezzi, will not feature on the bench this evening (as he did against Brazil) and has been caught up in controversy. According to journalist Gabriel Anello, the reason for Lavezzi’s exclusion is that he was caught smoking marijuana. Lavezzi sent out a tweet earlier this afternoon announcing that he would be suing the journalist for what he declares is a libellous statement.

“I’m announcing through this medium that I am going to take up legal action against Gabriel Anello for the false statements against me [and] for the serious damage that they have caused for my family and my work”

It’s doubtful that all this drug rumor business is going to give the boys the morale boost Bauza thought Lavezzi would bring.

But aside from the obvious psychological explanation, what’s being going wrong with the team? And what changes will Bauza make to fix it?

Problem: Messi dependence

Put quite simply, Argentina have been completely lacking in any kind of attacking flair since Bauza took over. “There is no discussion about the strategy.” Bauza said in the lead up to tonight’s game. “The biggest problem is that we were scored against eight times. All the rest is easy to solve.” Argentina has scored 11 goals in 11 games in qualifying so far. Only bottom-of-the-table Bolivia has scored fewer goals. Leader Brazil has scored 26. Most fans, would probably say there should be a discussion about strategy; there is clearly much more to be concerned about other than the side’s defensive woes.

How can a side with arguably the world’s greatest ever attacking threat, Lionel Messi, supported by two of Europe’s deadliest marksmen Sergio Agüero and Gonzalo Higuaín and the top assist-maker in Europe’s top five leagues since the start of last season, Ángel Di María, possibly be failing to score goals? Strategy clearly isn’t quite there yet, mate.

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On Thursday against Brazil, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for Messi. He had absolutely no support. With Pérez drafted in to create a more narrow midfield to nullify the threat of Philippe Coutinho and Neymar Jr. (ha!), support for Argentina’s record goal-scorer should have come from Higuaín and Di María. And they offered nothing. Di María showed no creativity and Higuaín was completely anonymous. On countless occasions, Messi was left to do it all himself. He’d look up, in search of a pass, a runner, any kind of movement. Absolutely nothing.

This video sums up Argentina’s attacking problems pretty well:

Bauza’s Solution: Banega and Pratto

Patience with Agüero and Higuaín has finally worn too thin. It’s time for a change, and that change will come in the form of Atletico Mineiro striker Lucas Pratto, according to Argentine media. The striker has regularly featured as a substitute for his club side and the likely prospect of a start for the 28 year-old really does sum up the dire state of affairs that Argentina is in at the moment. But don’t worry, Pratto mom’s has assured Argentina that her son is ready for tonight’s clash.

In all seriousness, Pratto will take to the field tonight with everything to play for. He’s clearly not of the same caliber as Agüero and Higuaín but tonight he has the chance to be the savior of his nation. At 28 years-old and with limited playing opportunities for his nation, he’s not going to want to let this opportunity pass by. He’ll offer energy and enthusiasm, which at the very least will be an improvement on the lackadaisical Higuaín.

The addition of Pratto, however, won’t help ease the burden on Lionel Messi of offering the team’s sole creative threat. Pratto is a number 9, not a playmaker. Leo needs an Andres Iniesta, an Ivan Rakitic, someone to make those deep runs, those incisive passes and offer him the freedom to terrorize the Colombian defense further up the field. Step up, Éver Banega. The Inter Milan midfielder is set to come in for Enzo Pérez, and while he’s no Iniesta, he offers far more of a creative threat than Pérez. Pérez was drafted in to create a more tight midfield unit to control Neymar and Coutinho but that was a complete and utter failure, so no loss there. Just in front of Biglia and Macherano, Banega should provide the link between attack and defense that has been missing in recent fixtures.

Problem: Defensive ineptitude

While I think Bauza was a fair way off the mark in saying that there were no strategic issues for the national side, he was bang on when is said the defense has been a disaster. I wrote in the lead-up to the Brazil game that Argentina would lose if they let Coutinho and Neymar cut in and afforded them space around the box…

Neymar, Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus terrorized the Argentine defense all night and the trio could have scored many more goals. Coutinho’s first goal (above) was an absolute corker but at the same time Zabaleta and Otamendi didn’t exactly make it difficult for him.

Bauza’s solution: Reports suggest that Zabaleta will be dropped for Gabriel Mercado. That’s something, but surely it’s not enough. I mean Zabaleta didn’t deal well with the threat of Coutinho last week but Otamendi, Funes Mori and Mas were hardly any better. Colombia will have every intention of giving the Argentine back-four a similar experience, and with the likely prospect of attacking trio Juan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao lining up together for the first time in quite a while, you can’t help but feel that goalkeeper Sergio Romero is unlikely to keep a clean sheet.

So, can Argentina do it?

We should expect the Albiceleste to have the lion’s share of possession tonight, and much of the showdown will involve a contest between their new-look attack and Colombia’s new-look defense. But expect the Colombians to cause Argentina’s faulty defense plenty of problems when they have the chance. Bauza has made some savvy changes but at this moment in time but with the current mindset of the team and the incompetence of their defensive unit, it would be foolish for supporters to have any real confidence in Bauza’s men tonight.