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Martino wary of Venezuela counter-attacks

Argentina head coach Gerardo Martino is wary of Venezuela’s counter-attacking abilities ahead of the Copa America Centenario quarter-final on Saturday.

Venezuela secured wins over 15-time champions Uruguay and Jamaica in Group C, but their inability to hold a one-goal lead against Mexico saw them pipped to top spot.

Argentina, meanwhile, coasted into the quarter-finals with three straight wins, conceding just once and scoring 10 goals.

The winners at the Gillette Stadium will face hosts United States in the semi-finals, and Martino acknowledged Rafael Dudamel’s side will not be simple opponents.

“I never think that a team that has the opportunity to press and attack you is not going to do it,” said Martino. “Especially with a Venezuela team that has good players. They are technically very good, with good strikers.

“If Venezuela wait for us and sit back, we have to take the control of the game. Then they will have counter-attacks through [Alejandro] Guerra and [Adalberto] Penaranda, through [Josef] Martinez or [Yonathan] Del Valle.

“And with a striker like [Salomon] Rondon who knows how to hold the ball up and let the midfielders get involved in the attack – those are the things we have to keep in mind when we face Venezuela.”

Venezuela defeated Argentina in World Cup qualifying back in 2011, but Dudamel is not thinking about the potential glory of eliminating the Copa favourites.

“We don’t think too much about the name of our opponent or how big it would be to get through to the semi-finals by knocking out Argentina, we think about our goals, knowing the quality of the other team,” he said.

“The big satisfaction, the big joy would be to get to the next stage. Argentina are in the way, and for that we have prepared, but our goal is not to beat Argentina, it is simply to get to the next stage.

“We think our chances are even, because both teams have done their share to get here, with different paths and different opponents.

“On the pitch, during the game we will see, how things go and who gets more or less chances.”

Sat 18 Jun, 2016
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