Argentina v Uruguay: Messi issues rallying cry as Tabarez's men look to extend unbeaten run

By Sports Desk June 17, 2021

Lionel Messi issued something of a rallying cry as Argentina attempt to kick-start their Copa America campaign against Uruguay on Friday.

Messi scored Argentina's only goal – a gorgeous free-kick – last time out, but it was not enough to seal a victory against Chile.

Eduardo Vargas levelled for La Roja after Arturo Vidal failed to convert an initial penalty, and despite Argentina creating a plethora of chances, they could not find a way past Claudio Bravo again.

Nicolas Gonzalez, who is reportedly close to joining Brighton and Hove Albion, was particularly culpable, spurning several good opportunities. He had six shots with a total xG (expected goals) value of 1.2, but he failed to find the net with any of them – Neymar is the only player with a higher xG (1.5) who failed to score so far.

 

As it turns out, Lionel Scaloni is reportedly considering resting Gonzalez due to him coming into the tournament with an injury, though Cristian Romero is potentially in line for a return at the back after a thigh issue.

Whoever plays, Messi is looking to ensure they are suitably motivated ahead of what will undoubtedly be another bruising encounter, given the historic rivalry between Argentina and Uruguay, who have not lost any of their last five Copa America games (after 90 minutes).

On his official Instagram account, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner wrote: "We are prepared to compete and we will continue fighting to win every game. Vamos Argentina!"

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Argentina – Nicolas Otamendi

While Argentina certainly are not shy of talent going forward, they are less convincing at the back. Otamendi has come in for criticism in recent times lately, and even posted a message on social media this week addressing the situation, saying: "Don't allow the noise of other people's opinions to silence your inner voice. Always be positive." But in fairness to him, his four tackles was twice as many as any of his team-mates last time out, while his six clearances was five more than anyone else.

Uruguay – Lucas Torreira

Sure, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani carry a lot of responsibility going forward for Uruguay, but they need to do their best to keep Messi quiet as well. A fool's errand that may be, but – if he starts – Torreira is likely to have some say in whether or not La Celeste can keep the Barcelona man quiet. A feisty competitor and tough tackler, his potential duel with Messi could be crucial.

KEY OPTA FACTS

-Argentina and Uruguay will meet in a Copa America campaign after going two tournaments without doing so (2016 and 2019). La Albiceleste are unbeaten in their last four meetings against La Celeste (W3 D1). The last Uruguay win was in 1989.

-Argentina have lost just one of their last nine meetings with Uruguay in all competitions (W5 D3). Their last defeat against Uruguay was in October 2013.

-Uruguay come into this game on an unbeaten run of five games (90 minutes only). Their last defeat in 90 minutes in this competition was in June 2016 (0-1 vs Venezuela).

-Argentina scored with only six per cent of their shots – the lowest conversion ratio of any team in the opening round of games.

-Oscar Tabarez will be managing his seventh Copa America. He will face Argentina for the 31st time and is the manager with the fourth-most games overseen in this tournament.

Related items

  • Shaw again on target as Manchester City beat Everton to go top of WSL Shaw again on target as Manchester City beat Everton to go top of WSL

    Manchester City defeated Everton 2-1 to climb to the top of the Women’s Super League table.

    City picked up where they left off in their first match since defeating Chelsea last month, with goals from Khadija Shaw (15th) and Lauren Hemp (55th) taking them three points clear of Emma Hayes’ side, who play Leicester on Sunday.

    It is now 12 victories in a row in all competitions for Gareth Taylor’s City, who were pegged back by a fine strike from Hanna Bennison in the 60th minute but deserved the three points.

    City, who have won all 16 of their league games against the Merseyside team, were behind Chelsea only on goals scored at the top of the table heading into the clash at the Joie Stadium. They were well fired up for this game and dominated from beginning to end against Brian Sorensen's team.

    City enjoyed the majority of early possession but had a hard time getting time and space in dangerous areas. After a few tame efforts, Everton made it easy for the home team when Justine Vanhaevermaet crumbled under pressure and played a short pass inside the box that went directly to Shaw, who suddenly had an abundance of time and space to smash in the opener.

    The goal gave the in-form hosts a massive boost as they looked even more dangerous from then on, with Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp sending dangerous balls into the box that Shaw was unable to connect with. By half-time, 1-0 seemed a low score considering City had 13 shots throughout the first 45 minutes.

    Everton, meanwhile, were gifted one chance late in the half when goalkeeper Khiara Keating played the ball straight to Rikke Madsen, but her weak shot was straight back at the youngster.

    After Shaw missed a great opportunity by heading over the bar, it was Hemp who doubled City's lead, combining with Coombs in the middle of the pitch before driving forward and sending a long-range effort rolling into the bottom corner.

    Everton were not down and out, though, as City suddenly looked flustered at the back and gave the ball away, resulting in Hanna Bennison smashing in a beauty of a goal from outside the box. Both teams pushed on for another goal, but neither could find a way past their opponents' goalkeeper.

  • Mauricio Pochettino preaches patience with Reece James despite England hopes Mauricio Pochettino preaches patience with Reece James despite England hopes

    Mauricio Pochettino insists Reece James will not be rushed back from the hamstring injury that has disrupted his season, even if a delayed return costs him a place in England’s Euro 2024 squad.

    The club captain has made just eight Premier League appearances this campaign and is at risk of missing out on a second international tournament in as many years, having been ruled out of the 2022 World Cup with a knee problem.

    He featured only 16 times in the league last season when a combination of knee and hamstring injuries kept him on the sidelines for club and country.

    And after being forced off during August’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool he has had even worse luck this term.

    The 24-year-old, who has only once in his Chelsea career reached 30 league appearances in a season, teased on social media this week that “the comeback is coming” and has returned to the training pitch, albeit working separately from his team-mates.

    However, with a history of recurring fitness problems, Pochettino was understandably cautious about reintroducing him and was adamant he would not be hurried back for the sake of his international place.

    “I cannot say the date of when it’s possible,” said the Argentinian. “His target and our target is for him to be fit and feel happy and well. Then we’ll see about the possibility of going to the Euros or not, or to be ready for next season or to play before we finish this season.

    “The most important thing now is to build his confidence, his physical condition, to recover all the good feelings.

    “The target is not to try and play the last five games or in the Euros or pre-season. The target is to build again his confidence and to feel strong, then to start to play when he feels strong and can deal again with the competition.”

    Despite establishing himself as a key figure for Chelsea when fit, James has so far made just a single major tournament appearance, starting for Gareth Southgate’s side in a goalless draw with Scotland at Euro 2020.

    He looked set to be a member of the squad in Qatar until a knee injury in a Champions League match against AC Milan scuppered his chances.

    “I didn’t speak with (Southgate),” said Pochettino. “But we have spoken people involved in (the FA), medical, performance people.

    “It’s not ‘now I can go on the pitch, I can play’. It’s to be sure we can go to the competition and he can feel strong and can forget all that has happened in the past.”

    James will be one of seven players unavailable to Pochettino at Brentford on Saturday.

    Injures have severely disrupted the seasons of Christopher Nkunku, Romeo Lavia, Lesley Ugochukwu and Carney Chukwuemeka, whilst Wesley Fofana is likely to be forced to miss the entire campaign.

    The manager reiterated his frustration at the impact injuries have had on his first season in charge.

    “When you start the season, you put in your head the idea of the potential of the squad,” he said. “When you think about Nkunku, Reece, (Ben) Chilwell or Fofana, Lavia, (Moises) Caicedo, you imagine the players in the best place, with all their potential.

    “Then when the circumstances happen, of course it’s about translating the reality. If you go back and say ‘no, you said we can play to win the Premier League’ – when you see the possibility that you have with the squad, then of course.

    “But then with the circumstance, the reality, we’ve had 10, 12 players every single week out. That will affect the performance of the team.”

  • Ange Postecoglou warns players of social media risks after Ryan Sessegnon plea Ange Postecoglou warns players of social media risks after Ryan Sessegnon plea

    Ange Postecoglou has advised his Tottenham players to take social media with a pinch of salt after a difficult week for Ryan Sessegnon.

    Full-back Sessegnon had surgery on his right hamstring on Monday, after an operation on his left hamstring last summer, and called for people to “be careful what you say online” in a post on his social media channels.

    Sessegnon, 23, has endured a torrid time with injuries and faced plenty of abuse on Twitter and Instagram over his fitness woes, but boss Postecoglou likened those platforms to a prison yard.

    “I guess the easy thing to say is, ‘look just stay off social media,’ and that’s easy for me to say,” Postecoglou said.

    “I can do that but I guess for younger people it’s a vehicle for them or a platform for them to have a voice, which I kind of understand.

    “They’ve also got to be mature enough to also know that sometimes the audience, I think for want of a better term, social media is like walking into the prison yard and saying you’re innocent.

    “You’re not going to get a hell of a lot of sympathy. Most of it is going to be coming back at you.

    “If you’re kind of prepared for that then (fine), but if you’re jumping into there to try and feel good, my sense of it is, I’m not all over it but you’ll rarely come away from it feeling really good about yourself.

    “Even with the most genuine of reasons for saying what you want to say or putting out what you want to put out. It’s just that kind of platform you’re invariably going to come away from thinking I probably shouldn’t have said anything.”

     

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Tottenham Hotspur (@spursofficial)

     

    Sessegnon is set to spend the rest of the season on the treatment table and is currently joined by Richarlison, who suffered a knee injury during the 2-1 home defeat to Wolves on February 17.

    Richarlison is not expected to return until after the international break and Postecoglou will also be without Pedro Porro (muscle) for Saturday’s visit of Crystal Palace.

    Fifth-placed Tottenham will aim to get their Champions League qualification hopes back on track against Palace and their manager expressed his frustration at the stop-start nature of their campaign.

    Early cup exits mean Spurs will only play 41 matches this season and asked if they can make the most of Aston Villa and Manchester United juggling cup commitments, Postecoglou admitted: “I don’t know.

    “It depends how you use that time. If you ask me would I rather be in Europe? Absolutely, 1000 per cent I’d rather be in Europe at this time playing games.

    “A club like us, who want to compete at the highest level against the best, you need a strong squad and to have a strong squad you need consistent games, consistent game time and opportunities.

    “At the moment, if we get an injury then we’re liable to throw in somebody who hasn’t played for four or five weeks. It’s not easy on that player.

    “Whereas if you’ve got games, there’s a natural rotation that you need to make all the time and also gives you a little bit of rhythm.

    “I had the other extreme last year of 60-plus games at Celtic, but I found that a lot easier to manage than having a disrupted season like we’ve had this year.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.