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Colombia won't change game plan for Messi: Rueda

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-06-08 14:16
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Colombia coach Reinaldo Rueda poses for a photograph with Ramon Jesurun, President of the Colombian Federation Colombian Football in Barranquilla, Colombia, January 19, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

BARRANQUILLA - Colombia will not try to blunt the impact of Argentina captain Lionel Messi by changing the way they play, Cafeteros head coach Reinaldo Rueda said on Monday.

Rueda promised Colombia would adopt their usual attacking mindset and focus on keeping possession when the teams meet in a World Cup qualifier at Barranquilla's Estadio Metropolitano on Tuesday.

"The way we play is not going to be altered by Messi. We can't change our DNA," Rueda told reporters. "Of course Messi is important and we will take the necessary precautions due to the talent he has.

"Many of our players have come up against him in the past and know him. That is why we must be strong collectively. We know that retaining possession is one of the most important ways to neutralize Messi because it means that he has minimal contact with the ball."

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi in action with Atletico Madrid's Koke at the La Liga Santander in Barcelona, Spain on May 8, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Messi, Argentina's leading all-time scorer with 72 goals in 143 matches, could be joined in attack by his new Barcelona teammate Sergio Aguero.

The former Manchester City star has been training strongly with his Albiceleste teammates in recent days after arriving late because of his participation in the Champions League final and his transfer to the Camp Nou.

Rueda said Argentina had quality all over the pitch and praised Albiceleste boss Lionel Scaloni for rebuilding his squad after the 2019 Copa America in Brazil.

"It will be a game of intelligence and of finding solutions to problems," Rueda said. "We know the great virtues that Argentina have in all areas. Scaloni has done a great reengineering job, with 15 new players, all of whom play in important leagues. We have to play a game that is equal to or better than the one in Peru."

Colombia is currently sixth in the 10-team South American zone standings with seven points from five matches. Argentina is second with 11 points, four points behind leader Brazil.

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