Argentina enjoying 'positivity' since Qatar victory

2019-06-28 09:15
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi (Getty Images)

Rio de Janeiro - An air of positivity is sweeping through the Argentina camp ahead of their Copa America quarter-final against Venezuela, coach Lionel Scaloni said on Thursday.

Argentina were in disarray after opening the tournament with a 2-0 defeat to Colombia and 1-1 draw with Paraguay that left them bottom of their pool and facing the possibility of an embarrassing early exit from a competition they've won 14 times.

But a vastly improved performance in a 2-0 win over guests Qatar qualified them for Friday's knock-out match at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium.

"It discharged confidence. We're confident we can continue and there's an air of positivity," said Scaloni.

But minnows Venezuela are likewise riding the crest of a wave. They even beat Argentina 3-1 in a friendly in Madrid in March.

"Rivals who already made things difficult for Brazil," said Scaloni in reference to Venezuela's 0-0 group stage draw with the hosts.

Unlike Argentina, Venezuela are unbeaten in this Copa.

Argentina haven't won in their last three matches against Venezuela -- one of only two of South American football's 10 members never to have won the Copa.

Scaloni, though, insisted that March's friendly, when Lionel Messi returned to the side following an eight-month hiatus, would have no baring on Friday's clash.

"It was a different match, we played with three center-backs, a different line-up, not just in terms of players but also the formation," he said.

Argentina will try to "control the match" but Venezuela would be happy with "an end-to-end game" due to their pace on the counter-attack, he added.

"It's not easy to play against them. You think you're dominating but in a few seconds they break out quickly."

Argentina are desperate for some long-overdue success having won nothing since the 1993 Copa America.

In five-time Ballo d'Or winner Messi they have the greatest player of his generation, perhaps of all time, but he has never tasted success with the national team despite winning the Champions League four times and La Liga 10 times with Barcelona.

He's likely to line up alongside Sergio Aguero and Lautaro Martinez in attack on Friday, just as the trio did against Qatar.

"We'll try to press high up the pitch, win back the ball and score a goal as soon as possible so we can play with greater tranquility," said Martinez.

The winner of the Maracana clash will face either Brazil or Paraguay in what could be a mouth-watering semi-final tie in Belo Horizonte.

Read more on:    argentina  |  qatar  |  copa america  |  soccer


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