Bueonos Aires, June 18: Argentina will hope to belatedly get their Copa America campaign up and running when they face Paraguay in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday (June 19).
Lionel Scaloni's men fell to a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Colombia in their Group B opener in Salvador at the weekend, with Lionel Messi again coming for criticism after what was perceived by many as another sub-par display on the international stage.
Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi will be hoping to get Argentina firing at the Mineirao against a Paraguay side that were held to a 2-2 draw by Qatar in their opening match.
Nicolas Burdisso, who played with Messi at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, remains confident the Barcelona superstar can lead Argentina to their first senior title since 1993.
"He's a leader who asks for the ball. He is the type of leader the team needs to win these matches, someone who makes decisions on the pitch," Burdisso told TyC Sports.
"You can also have a leader by personality and, obviously, the coach. They help each other, they complement each other and do not fight between themselves.
"We always get caught up on Messi because he's the best in the world and has earned that respect."
It has been suggested Angel Di Maria will lose his place to Rodrigo De Paul for the match, following a bright second-half cameo from the latter winger against Colombia, while Lautaro Martinez could be picked ahead of Sergio Aguero up front.
Paraguay boss Eduardo Berizzo is also said to be considering changes, with Gustavo Gomez potentially set to be drafted into the centre of defence.
Paraguay took a 2-0 lead against Qatar through Oscar Cardozo and substitute Derlis Gonzalez, but Almoez Ali reduced the arrears before an own goal from Roberto Rojas ensured the spoils were shared.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Argentina – Leandro Paredes
Following an ineffective display against Colombia, Paredes will need to up his effort in the centre of midfield and help create more opportunities if he is to retain his place in the Argentina line-up.
Paraguay – Derlis Gonzalez
Having scored as a substitute against Qatar, Gonzalez looks primed to make an impact from the bench once more if he is not moved into Berizzo's starting line-up. The on-loan Santos winger scored the only goal when Paraguay won their previous meeting with Argentina during 2018 World Cup qualifying.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- Argentina have never lost against Paraguay at a Copa America (W19 D5 L0); they have only faced Chile more times without losing a single game in the competition (excluding penalties) – W20 D7 L0.
- Paraguay are winless in their past eight Copa America games (D4 L4); in fact, they have only won one of their previous 18 games in the competition (D10 L7): a 1-0 win over Jamaica in 2015.
- Argentina failed to score in each of their past two Copa America games (0-0 v Chile in the 2016 final and 2-0 v Colombia in the 2019 opening game); they last failed to score in three consecutive matches in the competition in 1989 (4 – 2D 2L).
- Aguero has scored just three goals in his past 23 competitive games for Argentina, netting versus France and Iceland at the 2018 World Cup and against Panama in the 2016 Copa America.