Lionel Messi has urged his international colleagues to lift their heads after a dire start to their 2019 Copa America campaign
Argentina will try to answer their critics on Wednesday when they face Paraguay in what has become a vital clash in Copa America Group B in Belo Horizonte.
Defeated 2-0 in their opening fixture against Colombia, Lionel Scaloni’s troops were entirely unimpressive and could face an embarrassing early exit from the competition if they fail to win this match.
Paraguay did not begin in the best of fashions either, held 2-2 by guest side Qatar, having led 2-0 with just the final quarter of the game to play.
With the pressure on both teams, who will respond?
|Game||Argentina vs Paraguay|
|Date||Wednesday, June 19|
|Time||1:30am BST / 8:30pm ET|
|Stream (US)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|Globo TV Internacional / Telemundo||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will be broadcast on Premier Sports 1 and can be streamed via Premier Player HD.
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|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Premier Sports 1||Premier Player HD|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Armani, Marchesin, Andrada|
|Defenders||Foyth, Tagliafico, Saravia, Pezzella, Funes Mori, Casco, Otamendi|
|Midfielders||Paredes, Pereyra, Acuna, Di Maria, Pizarro, De Paul, Rodriguez, Lo Celso|
|Forwards||Aguero, Messi, Suarez, Dybala, Martinez|
Three changes are expected in the Argentina starting XI compared to the one that lost against Colombia, with Roberto Pereyra, Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martinez set to feature.
Guido Rodriguez, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero are tipped to drop out.
Milton Casco could also replace Renzo Saravia.
Argentina starting XI: Armani; Casco, Pezzella, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Pereyra, Lo Celso, Paredes, De Paul; Messi, Lautaro Martínez
|Goalkeepers||Silva, Fernandez, Aguilar|
|Defenders||Gomez, Valdez, Piris, Alonso, Balbuena, Escobar, Arzamendia, Torres|
|Midfielders||Sanchez, Perez, Rojas, Ortiz, Almiron, Rojas|
|Forwards||Cardozo, Romero, Gonzalez, Santander, Dominguez, Iturbe|
Paraguay are expected to have the full strength of their squad to select from for this match.
Paraguay starting XI: Fernández; Piris, Gómez, Alonso, Arzamendía; Rodrigo Rojas, Sánchez, Matías Rojas; Derlis González; Almirón, Santander
Betting & Match Odds
Argentina are priced at 9/20 with bet365 to bounce back and win this game. Paraguay are 13/2 outsiders, while a draw is available at 16/5.
Click here to see all of bet 365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.
Argentina are in trouble. Even if the expectations placed upon Lionel Scaloni’s side were low, they contrived to fall below the expectations of the public in a simply dreadful 2-0 defeat against Colombia in their opening 2019 Copa America clash.
The fall out was, inevitably, violent, with key figures lining up to lambast the performance.
“You realise that even Tonga could beat us,” 1986 World Cup winner Diego Maradona told TyCsports. “We have a prestige we built up kicking and punching. Let it be remembered that when we left Peru our bus was smashed up. What’s left from all that? What does this shirt mean? You have to feel it, for f*ck’s sake.”
But just as quickly as the criticism has poured in, there have been those prepared to defend the national team – and Lionel Messi in particular.
The Barcelona star was effectively rendered a spectator in that opening match as possession was persistently squandered before he could influence the game.
It was situation that opponent Radamel Falcao had some sympathy for, as he explained after the match: “If Messi scores a goal, people ask for two. If he scores a free-kick, they’ll say the wall wasn’t set up properly. If Argentina lose, it will be talked about like it was his fault.
“That’s the price you pay for being the best player in the world.”
Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone lamented to Fox Sports: “Messi can find a solution in a game at any time but he needs a team.
“The players who are with Messi have to understand the potential they have, which is huge and it’s in the personality of each player.
“Messi needs each one of those who make up the team to feel secure and confident when they are around him.
“I have no doubt about Messi’s class and stature, and he is going to adapt to any situation because he wants to win.”
Two-time Copa America champions Paraguay are the next side to step up and chance their arm at stopping the beleaguered Argentines.
Posting just one win in their last nine, they are hardly a team in form, though they did win their last outing against Argentina, a 1-0 success away from home in Cordoba in World Cup 2019 qualification.
In the 2015 Copa America, they were routed 6-1 by Los Albicelestes in their final group stage match, an eventuality they will be eager not to repeat.