Paraguay coach Ramon Diaz is braced for Saturday’s clash against Lionel Messi, though he has no plans to man-mark the Argentina captain.
Diaz and Co. will open their Group B campaign against Copa America favourites Argentina at the Estadio La Portada in La Serena, with Messi fresh from leading Barcelona to the UEFA Champions League title and a club treble.
Messi ended his Barcelona season with 58 goals in 57 matches in all competitions and Diaz said Paraguay will be watching the 27-year-old closely.
“We won’t personally mark him, but we’ll tighten on him,” Diaz said. “We’ll try to make Messi not as comfortable as we’ve seen in some games.
“He’s a very smart kid. He has intelligence and the ability to play on the sides or in the middle. He knows when to walk, when to recover and when to participate. A lot will depend on our concentration when he receives the ball.
“With a tough team, we can move in all sectors. We must counter Argentina.”
While Messi will lead the way for Argentina, Gerardo Martino has a plethora of options, with Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria amongst a number of stars at his disposal.
And if he was given the chance to select a player besides Messi, Diaz would happily utilise Di Maria’s services.
“The pace and dynamics he has, not many have these characteristics in the world,” Diaz was quoted as telling Ole.
“[Javier] Mascherano was rightly praised a lot at the last World Cup, but central midfielders are plenty.
“I look for attackers. If [Argentina] don’t want to start [Carlos] Tevez, I’ll use him for 45 minutes!”