The eyes of the world are focusing on talents elsewhere in Argentina’s squad following their impressive 2-0 win over Venezuela in the Copa America quarter-finals, but Brazil defender Thiago Alves insists Lionel Messi is the one to watch.
The South American giants meet for a place in the Copa final on Monday with Messi arriving at the mouth-watering contest with just one goal, via the penalty spot, in the tournament so far.
But veteran Selecao centre-back Silva says he won’t let the Argentina captain out of his sight during their semi-final meeting.
“He is the best player in the world and he still could spring to life,” Silva told reporters ahead of the first Copa contest between the sides since the 2007 final, which Brazil won 3-0.
“We will have to be especially focused on him when we have the ball and when we don’t. Sometimes he can be at walking pace during a game but he’s always looking for space to launch a counterattack.
“It’s a privilege to be able to face him again and we’ll have to try and put the brakes on him.”
Messi has himself acknowledged he’s yet to hit his best levels in Brazil, although that hasn’t been to the detriment of La Albiceleste who appeared a more cohesive unit in the win over Venezuela.
“The truth is I’m not having my best Copa America, it’s always very difficult for us because we want to do something different and attack and teams pack out the middle of the pitch,” he said after his country’s quarter-final success.
“No one is giving anything away cheaply in this Copa, it’s very difficult to play because the pitches are very bad, it’s shameful. The ball is like a rabbit, it can go anywhere and you can’t dribble.”
Argentina winger Angel Di Maria is adamant that despite his low output in terms of goals and assists, Messi remains pivotal.
“We are used to seeing him score goals but Leo is doing very well, he is running a lot, he is working hard,” he said.
“He knows more than anyone that at this Copa America the first thing you need to do is run, then you can think about the rest, playing well and scoring.”
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