While the forward is yet to hit top form at the Copa America, his opposing coach is wary of the Barcelona star
Brazil manager Tite believes Lionel Messi is unstoppable, but he hopes that his side can find a way to slow down the Argentina star in the Copa America semi-finals.
Although Messi is yet to hit top form at the tournament, Argentina have reached the last four, where fierce rivals Brazil await in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.
Argentina topped Venezuela in the quarter-finals behind goals from Lautaro Martinez and Giovani Lo Celso after emerging from a group featuring Paraguay, Colombia and Qatar.
Messi has scored just once in the competition, and it came from the penalty spot as Argentina limped to a lacklustre 1-1 draw with Paraguay in the second group stage match.
Their first was a loss to Colombia, although their fortunes have improved in recent matches having topped Qatar and Venezeula in their last two outings.
Despite the forward’s recent struggles, Tite is wary of Messi, but also pointed to the talent in his attack ahead of the showdown.
“We spoke not only of the individuality of Argentina. They have grown in collective terms as well,” the Brazil coach told a news conference.
“The collective enhances individuality. You don’t cancel out Messi, no, you can slow his actions, but you cannot neutralise his actions.
“Just as [Philippe] Coutinho does not neutralise himself, [Roberto] Firmino, David Neres. They will, at some point, be decisive.”
Amanhã é o dia!! Brasil e Argentina entram novamente em campo para um clássico histórico. Em jogo, uma vaga na final da Copa América!
x – 02/07 – 21h30 #JogaBola #SeleçãoBrasileira #CopaAmérica pic.twitter.com/v6L3zQ7dxA
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) July 2, 2019
Brazil are in another semi-final in Belo Horizonte, the scene of their 7-1 humiliation at the hands of Germany at the 2014 World Cup.
However, Tite praised the support his team had received in the city and hopes fans can replicate it at the Estadio Mineirao.
“If the fans can bring all the affection they have given us when we arrived at the hotel to the stadium, it will leave me and all the players gratified and strengthened,” he said.
“[Belo Horizonte] was the place of the greatest affection, greater empathy,” Tite added.
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“More than Porto Alegre, which is my land.”
While Brazil and Argentina collide in one semi-final, defending champions Chile will take on Peru in the other matchup.
Chile have topped Argentina in each of the last two Copa America finals as Messi hunts for his first major trophy with his national team.