Argentina head coach Edgardo Bauza will give Lionel Messi free reign to cause Brazil problems in Thursday’s eagerly anticipated World Cup qualification showdown.
Messi returns to the fold for his country having missed the past three matches in the CONMEBOL section through injury.
Argentina have claimed only two points during this period and are languishing in sixth ahead of a meeting with their bitter rivals in Belo Horizonte.
Bauza has named Gonzalo Higuain in attack alongside Messi, with Enzo Perez and Angel Di Maria offering support from the flanks, but the Barcelona star will understandably be the fulcrum for much of his side’s attacking work.
“I’ll give him a lot of freedom because Messi has been given licence to go to the sides, but he also has the freedom to move around in front of the midfielders and close to the ball to try to make the ball go through him,” Bauza told reporters.
“And not just him, also Enzo Perez and Di Maria, we also have worked with them so they play not only on the sides but with him [Messi] too.
“So we have worked and we have given him freedom so he can find the space to receive [the ball].
“It will also depend on the tactics, I think Brazil will play like the last games but we talked with him about having a defender on him to try different positions.”
Bauza expects Neymar to have a similar role for Brazil as the two Barca superstars go head to head and the coach believes attempting to man-mark the opposition’s main threat would leave Argentina at a disadvantage.
“They are two top players. Neymar doesn’t have a fixed position with [Brazil head coach] Tite,” he explained.
“Sometimes he plays on the left, sometimes in the middle, lots of times on the right. So no, we won’t assign him a defender or man-mark him.
“But of course we’ll try to press him when he gets the ball because he’s a player that makes the difference with his velocity and he is dangerous.
“I think it is the same for them with Messi, they are players that you can’t let play with freedom so they can finish.
“It also depends on the team, though, to give Messi the possibility to shine, that’s the idea.”
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