River Plate graduates Lamela and Cazares star on the world stage

Martino: Di Maria among the best (1:05)

New Argentina boss Tata Martino hailed Angel di Maria as one of the best players in the world after he inspired a 4-2 friendly victory over World Cup winners Germany. (1:05)

Roque Santa Cruz was unable to celebrate his 100th international match with a goal, as Paraguay were held 0-0 by the United Arab Emirates in a friendly played in Austria. Meanwhile, some newcomers have been making their marks as the South American national teams return to action after the World Cup.

In particular, there were promising contributions from a couple attacking midfielders who know each other from the youth ranks of Buenos Aires giants River Plate. On opposite sides of the Atlantic, both Erik Lamela and Juan Cazares underlined their potential with good displays and fine goals.

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Lamela would probably have been included in Argentina's World Cup squad had it not been for a disappointing, injury-blighted first season with Tottenham in England. He was not originally part of the squad named by new coach Gerardo Martino, who had decided to start his reign by naming the World Cup 23 for the past Wednesday's match away to Germany. But a few players pulled out, and Lamela was called up and found himself pitched straight into the starting lineup. He quickly proved he has a part to play in the new regime.

Under previous coach Alejandro Sabella, Argentina qualified for Brazil 2014 using a bold and somewhat unorthodox 4-3-3 system. Lionel Messi was played behind two strikers, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero, with Angel Di Maria on the left of the midfield trio.

It was a 4-3-3 without much width, because all of the front three are happier operating through the middle.

Martino's version of the system would seem to be different, with an emphasis on pressing high and moving the ball swiftly into wide areas. Against Germany, Aguero played up front, with Di Maria now part of the front three and swapping wings with Lamela.

It could hardly have worked better. Di Maria was all but unplayable and produced a magnificent individual display.

He also combined well with Lamela; the Tottenham man, revitalised in the early stages of this season, supplied Di Maria with the pass that unlocked the defence and helped set up the first goal for Aguero. Lamela scored the second with an excellent volley from Di Maria's cross.

Messi, of course, missed this game due to injury. Clearly, he will be straight back in the side when he is fit, presumably at the expense of Lamela. But the 22-year-old has shown he is an interesting option for his national team, especially given the tweak coach Martino has given to the 4-3-3 formation.

A month after Erik Lamela came into the world, Juan Cazares was born at the other end of South America, on Ecuador's northern coast. His talent brought him down to River Plate in Buenos Aires, with their shrewd eye for talent spotting all over South America.

Smaller and more slippery than the stately elegance of Lamela, Cazares looked an interesting prospect playing for the Ecuadorian Under-20 side in 2011, and the following year he was chosen as the outstanding player when River won the Under-20 Libertadores title.

But then his career seemed to stall until he reunited last year with coach Mathias Almeyda, who knew him from River and was now in charge of Banfield in Argentina's second division.

Cazares was an important player as Banfield regained first division status and has made a bright start to the current domestic season. He looked a player in form on Saturday when given his international debut in Ecuador's 4-0 win over Bolivia in Fort Lauderdale. Admittedly, the opposition were unimpressive. But even so, Cazares gave an extra dimension to his team's play.

Ecuador have an abundance of riches in terms of attacking wide players. For the Bolivia game, first choice pair Luis Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero were unavailable, and Fidel Martinez limped off injured before the 10-minute mark.

Where their attack has not been so strong, especially since the tragic death of Cristian Benitez, is through the middle of the field. Cazares made a case for the view that he could be the solution. What stood out from his performance was the rhythm of his game; he united speed of movement, speed of thought and speed of execution and capped it all with a wonderful goal curled into the far top corner before Bolivia keeper Romel Quinonez had time to move.

On Tuesday, Brazil will supply a much harder test. But like his one-time River Plate colleague Erik Lamela, Juan Cazares has used the September FIFA dates to show he could be an important player in the future of his national team.