Lionel Messi poses headache for Argentina's South American rivals

 

Stopping Lionel Messi is the primary concern of South American teams facing Argentina in the World Cup qualifiers. This week it is Uruguay's turn.

Argentina defend their lead in the South American group at home to Uruguay in Mendoza on Friday (0100 GMT Saturday). After seven matches they have 14 points, one more than Colombia and Ecuador and two ahead of Uruguay and Chile.

They will be looking to make amends for a poor performance in their last match, a 1-1 draw with Peru in Lima where Messi, who had scored 10 goals in his previous six internationals, had one of his quietest games for his country.

South American champions Uruguay want a second successive upset over their neighbours after their Copa America quarter-final victory on penalties last year.

Uruguay's coach Oscar Washington Tabarez does not believe in man-marking Messi, but rather in preventing Argentina from functioning in support of the Barcelona ace.

"Messi is a great player, among the best seen in the history of football...so I'm not going to say too much about that because it would be redundant," Tabarez told reporters in Montevideo on Tuesday.

"But Messi has a team around him trying to ensure be shows all his potential.

"So we have to work on and counter everything Argentina does for the ball to get to Messi and after Messi takes it try to mark him."

The Uruguayans, World Cup semi-finalists in 2010, need to recover from a poor September when they lost 4-0 away to Colombia and only managed a 1-1 draw at home to Ecuador.

Captain Diego Lugano believes this double away fixture will be the hardest trip for Uruguay, who play Bolivia at high altitude in La Paz next week, in the 16-match qualifying series.

"These are key (qualifying) points, much more so after the last double-header when we didn't do well," Lugano said.

"We're facing two matches that are surely the most difficult of the qualifying series. An Argentina-Bolivia sequence (away) is very hard and we're practically obliged to bring back some points," the central defender said.

Uruguay have to manage without left wing back Alvaro Pereyra, who is suspended, and injured midfielders Diego Perez and Gaston Ramirez.

Argentina, who beat Paraguay 3-1 at home then drew 1-1 away to Peru last month, welcome back Sergio Agüero but have lost fellow striker Ezequiel Lavezzi to injury.

Midfielder Javier Mascherano said good results against Uruguay and then Chile away in Santiago four days later would put Argentina well on course for a berth in the 2014 finals in Brazil.

"If we can get six out of six points it would be ideal and we would be well on track to qualifying, not certain but on the right track," Mascherano said at Argentina's training base outside Buenos Aires.

"For us, the match against Uruguay is a classic. The last ones we have played against them were very tight (and) if we win we'd go with more confidence to Chile."

The Chileans, whose coach Claudio Borghi is serving a four-match suspension for dissent, first travel to play Ecuador in the rarefied air of Quito nearly 3,000 metres above sea level on Friday (2100 GMT).

Colombia, with striker Falcao in red-hot scoring form, are at home to bottom team Paraguay in their favourite Caribbean cauldron in Barranquilla (2030 GMT) and Bolivia, at home in both fixtures, host Peru in La Paz (2000 GMT).

Venezuela, in sixth place with 11 points having already played eight matches, have a bye at the halfway stage in the competition.

Reuters

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones