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Argentina v Paraguay: Valdez hoping not to need another comeback

Paraguay striker Nelson Valdez is keen to ensure Argentina do not dominate possession when the two sides meet for a place in the Copa America final. 

The pair will clash for the second time in this year’s competition in Concepcion on Tuesday after drawing 2-2 in the group stages.

Argentina controlled proceedings in the opening 45 minutes of the first game with Paraguay and went 2-0 up before Ramon Diaz’s men produced a superb fightback to claim a share of spoils. 

Paraguay have since continued to defy expectations, drawing with Uruguay in the group stages and beating Brazil on penalties in the quarter-finals to set up another clash with Gerardo Martino’s side.

And Valdez – scorer of the first goal in that comeback – is keen to avoid having to produce similar heroics at Estadio Municipal Alcaldesa Ester Roa Rebolledo.

“We don’t want to make the same mistake [as in the first half against Argentina], [and] go back and forth without touching the ball,” Valdez said.

Paraguay have significant pedigree in the competition, lifting the trophy in 1953 and 1979 and reaching the final in 2011 only to lose to Uruguay.

Valdez added: “We are getting people to respect us again. We are among the top four in South America and we want more.”

Argentina came through a penalty shoot-out of their own with Colombia to earn a place in the last four after a 0-0 draw in normal time.

That success leaves Argentina as firm favourites to win the tournament for the first time since 1993.

Attacking midfielder Javier Pastore praised the performance as Argentina’s best under Martino – who took over as coach of the national team in August last year.

However, with Argentina having scored just four goals in as many games and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi netting only once, Pastore is under no illusions as to where Martino’s men are lacking.

“I think [last Friday against Colombia] was the best of the era of Tata,” Pastore said. “We played perfectly, but we still lack a goal.”

With the likes of Messi and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero in their ranks, Argentina will be expected to find their form in front of goal.

But Messi, Aguero and versatile midfielder Javier Mascherano are both a booking away from being ruled out of the final, meaning that Martino may need to exercise some caution as the World Cup runners-up attempt to reach their first Copa final since 2007.

Mon 29 Jun, 2015
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