Copa America favorites Argentina will look to bounce back from a disappointing draw against Paraguay when taking on holders Uruguay on Tuesday. Boasting a fearsome attack led by Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero, last year’s World Cup runners-up looked set to justify their pre-tournament billing when racing into a 2-0 half-time lead against an unfancied Paraguay on Saturday. But some sloppiness at the back allowed their opponents to peg them back and leave Argentina still with much work to do going into what promises to be their most testing contest of Group B.
With so much attacking talent at his disposal, the main task for coach Gerardo Martino is how to fit them into a balanced lineup. Against Paraguay, the forward-thinking Ángel di María, Javier Pastore and Éver Banega were all included, in addition to Messi and Agüero, while Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuaín came off the bench.
After seeing his team give up two second-half goals, Martino is expected to bring in the more defensive-minded midfielder Lucas Biglia in place of Sevilla’s Banega, as well as selecting Manchester City right-back Pablo Zabaleta in preference to Facundo Roncaglia.
“We have to be disorganized when we attack and organized when we don't have the ball,” Martino said ahead of the meeting with Uruguay, reports Goal.com.
Yet the former Barcelona coach was eager not to lose sight of just how impressive he thought his side had been when in full flow early on against Paraguay.
“The first half wasn't just good, it was very good,” he added. “In that first half we played the best football in my time as coach with Argentina. The first half was probably the best football played by anyone in the first round of matches at the Copa America. The second half was the worst.”
Argentina are looking to land their first senior international title since 1993, but will now be aiming to kick-start their campaign against the only country that has more Copa America titles to its name. It was also Uruguay that upset Argentina on home soil four years ago with a penalty shootout win in the quarterfinals.
Uruguay began their defense of the trophy with a 1-0 win over Group B’s other team, invitees from Concacaf, Jamaica. It is a time of transition for Óscar Wáshington Tabárez’s squad with some of the team that reached the semifinals of the World Cup in 2010 and then won the Copa America a year later needing to be replaced by younger blood. That necessary turnover means that there is no Diego Forlan in Chile. But the attack has also been hit hard by an international suspension that continues to rule out Barcelona star Luis Suárez, after his bite on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in last year’s World Cup.
They still, though, remain a tough team to play against, particularly with Atlético Madrid’s Diego Godín leading the defense. But Godín is all too aware that the whole team will have to be at its sharpest to quiet an attack featuring possible the greatest player in history.
“What happened in the first game is not important,” he told La Nacion, according to the official Copa America website. “We are going to face the favorites to win the Copa America, with players at a high level that make the difference. We will have to prepare for the game well because it is the only way to counter their individuals. If you do not mark them all it is very difficult to stop Argentina.
“There is no formula to stop Messi, otherwise someone would have already achieved it. There is no single recipe, it's a team effort. We must do it together, because if not it's impossible that he won't hurt us.”
Kickoff time: 7:30 p.m. EDT
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