Brazil know they must not fall to Paraguay again

Brazil's Liverpool-bound forward Roberto Firmino losing the ball under the challenge of his team-mate during their training session on Wednesday.
Brazil's Liverpool-bound forward Roberto Firmino losing the ball under the challenge of his team-mate during their training session on Wednesday.PHOTO: REUTERS

CONCEPCION (Chile) - Brazil do not need any extra motivation to make the Copa America semi-finals, but Lionel Messi has given Willian an added incentive to see off Paraguay in today's clash.

Like most fans, the Chelsea midfielder wants a dream showdown with Argentina, if only to get the chance to face four-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi.

"Messi is an idol for many people, a player of great quality who has managed to be crowned the best player in the world four times," the 26-year-old told the tournament's official website.

"I like to watch him play, of course. He is someone who, when Argentina play, he has many people stop to see him at work.

"Undoubtedly it is always great to play for Brazil against Argentina, and if it happens it will be really cool. Everyone dreams of playing against Argentina. We are getting ready for the possibility of that happening, but we must not get ahead of ourselves."

Indeed, Willian may not get his wish, with Argentina also needing to do their part to make the last four as Gerardo Martino's men take on Colombia this morning (Singapore time).

What is certain is that Paraguay will be a tough opponent, having ousted Brazil at this stage on penalties four years ago. "Paraguay are competitive opponents, and it will be a fight for the full 90 minutes," William added.

Ramon Diaz's side were one of only three unbeaten sides in the group stage, along with Argentina and Chile. And they have a game plan to topple the eight-time continental champions, who will be without their suspended captain and talisman Neymar.

"Brazil are the favourites but we must be confident and play a perfect match to reach the semis," said Paraguay midfielder Victor Caceres. "We are strong in the air, and we must closely mark the Brazilian players and anticipate them to avoid problems."

Added defender Marcos Caceres: "We have good ideas to harm Brazil, we're working to get them right. We must be attentive to get a good result.

"We are strong and if we take it to Brazil, we will be even more encouraged to go forward. The whole group is aware about whom we play, and will make every effort."

Nestor Ortigoza is ruled out with a thigh injury, while fellow midfielder Richard Ortiz is unavailable after picking up two yellow cards in the group stage.

Copa America q-finals: Argentina v Colombia (7.30am), Brazil v Paraguay (tomorrow, 5.30am) - StarHub Ch202

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2015, with the headline 'Brazil know they must not fall to Paraguay again'. Print Edition | Subscribe