Brazil star Gabriel Jesus delivers warning to Man City team-mate Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi

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Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus

Argentina forwards Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero will have to sweat if they’re going to break down Brazil’s watertight defence in their Copa America semi-final, says Selecao striker Gabriel Jesus.

Hosts Brazil have yet to concede a goal in four matches at the Copa while Argentina have improved defensively and kept clean sheets in their last two matches.

Jesus expects a tight contest in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday and says Brazil’s defence won’t give Argentina’s forward line an inch.

“It’s tough to get behind a defence that doesn’t concede goals,” the Manchester City forward said of Argentina’s backline.

“It’s also a long time since we conceded a goal. It’s very important to have a solid defence.

“But it won’t be easy for Argentina to get behind us. Obviously they have Messi who is the best player in the world, and they have Aguero, one of the best center-forwards, but they’re going to have to sweat to get in behind.”

Jesus said he was sure “Argentina will attack us” and he’s looking forward to joking around with his City team-mates Aguero and center-back Nicolas Otamendi, but only after the match.

What’s clear, though, is that this is the most keenly anticipated match on the continent, between the two regional giants.

Brazil are the most successful team in World Cup history with five titles to Argentina’s two, but at a continental level, the roles are reversed as Argentina have won the Copa 14 times compared to eight for Brazil.

Should Argentina win again, they would match Uruguay’s record of 15 titles.

“These are two giants, from countries with a lot of history,” said Jesus.

“We’re playing at home and we have more pressure to win, but it’s a ‘clasico’ against Argentina.”

These two sides’ defenses have been on top so far but given the attacking talent that will be on show, a goalless draw would be unthinkable, even though there have been three already in the knock-out stages out of four matches.

Brazil will likely line up with Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino flanked by Jesus and the exciting Gremio forward Everton, a reported target for Manchester City.

Argentina are almost certainly sure to stick to the trio that played their last two matches – 2-0 victories over Qatar and Venezuela – with Lautaro Martinez joining Messi and Aguero.

‘Best in the world’

But there is one name that most occupies the thoughts of Brazil center-back Thiago Silva, and that’s Messi.

The Paris Saint-Germain defender has painful memories of a Messi in full flow. He and Marquinhos, hia center-back partner for club and country, were torn apart in

Barcelona’s famous 6-1 Champions League victory over PSG in 2017 that overturned a 4-0 first leg deficit.
Messi scored Barca’s third goal that day.

“Obviously no matter how much attention you pay it doesn’t count for much against the best player in the world,” said Silva.

“Whenever we play against him for the national team or in the Champions League, it’s difficult.

“No matter how much you study him, you’ll never be able to understand the difference he can make.

“In the decisive moments, you think he’ll do one thing, and he pulls out of his hat something that you never expected. That’s the difference.

“But now it’s Brazil against Argentina and we’ll try to defend our end and admire him some other day.”

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The semi-final has got everyone excited for what will be the 106th official FIFA-recognized meeting between the two rivals.

Brazil lead the head-to-head record with 41 wins to 38 and 26 draws.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni wants his players to put aside that historic rivalry, though, and treat this simply as a major tournament semi-final with a final at stake for the winners.

“We need to play this, not like just another match, but like a Copa America semi-final, no matter who it’s against,” said Scaloni.

“We can’t think about playing our greatest rivals. That amplifies the legend.

“We’re going to try to impose our game and do what will give us an advantage,” he added.

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Africa Cup of Nations: Mohamed Salah and Ahmed Elmohamady on target as Egypt secure top spot

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Mohamed Salah was on target as Africa Cup of Nations hosts Egypt ensured they emerged from Group A with a perfect record despite a stern examination by Uganda.

Liverpool striker Salah’s free-kick and a second goal from Aston Villa midfielder Ahmed Elmohamady before the break secured a 2-0 win.

But the scoreline flattered them on a night when Sebastien Desabre’s side, who finished second in the group with four points and take their place in the last-16, more than gave as good as they got in Cairo.

Egypt keeper Mohamed El-Shenawy had made a number of good saves before Salah curled a left-foot free-kick over the wall and past keeper Denis Onyango in the 36th minute.

Skipper Elmohamady smashed home a second in first-half stoppage time to clinch a third successive victory for Egypt, all without conceding a goal.

Salah almost made it 3-0 early in the second half, only to be denied Onyango, who is a doubt for the knockout phase after being stretchered off with 18 minutes remaining.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Brazil v Argentina: Thiago Silva has his say on Lionel Messi's quiet Copa America campaign

David Cooper 30/06/2019
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Argentina superstar Lionel Messi

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.

Brazil defender Thiago Silva

Brazil defender Thiago Silva

“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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