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Argentina, Paraguay to meet in Copa America battle

Tuesday - June 18, 2019 8:50 pm , Category : SPORTS
Belo Horizonte (Brazil), June 18 (IANS) Argentina and Paraguay, who got off to rough starts at the 2019 Copa America, will square off later this week at Mireirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line.
The squads will meet on Wednesday in a second-round Group B match, a clash that both teams enter following disappointing opening performances, reports Efe news.
On Saturday, Colombia shocked Argentina, whose captain is superstar Lionel Messi, 2-0, while Paraguay blew a 2-0 lead against Qatar and ended up with a 2-2 tie.
Colombia's fine performance and Qatar's surprise tie have put the pressure on Argentina and Paraguay to avoid missing the quarters.
"There are two matches left in the group phase and we'll advance to the next phase if we win them," Argentine national team coach Lionel Scaloni said after Saturday's loss to Colombia.
Messi, for his part, said that the team had to turn the page and "think about what's ahead."
"We still have lots of chances. We're looking up and moving forward now. We have to go step by step now. The match against Paraguay will be key," the Barcelona forward said.
Scaloni is expected to stick with the 11 starters he put on the field against Colombia.
Two players, however, could crack the starting lineup - Milton Casco, in place of Renzo Saravia, and midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, on the left side for Angel Di Maria.
On Monday, Roberto Pereyra and Marcos Acuña were recovering from muscle injuries and may not be in top form for the match against Paraguay.
Paraguay, meanwhile, is getting some players back.
Midfielder Rodrigo Rojas, who came out of the match against Qatar with an arm injury, practiced normally on Monday and will take the field against Argentina.
Paraguay captain Gustavo Gomez, who was suspended for the team's Copa America debut, will also be in action.
Paraguayan national team coach Eduardo Berizzo said the tie against Qatar was "disappointing," adding that he was "responsible" for the squad not playing well.
"When we had the ball, we didn't have a midfield capable of handling the ball with focus. That cost us, we blew the match in a matter of a few minutes," the coach said.
The teams will wrap up their Group B schedule on Sunday, with Argentina taking on Qatar and Paraguay playing Colombia.

--IANS kk/bg