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Copa America 2021: Argentina relies on Messi against Paraguay

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Photo of a file by Lionel Messi.

Argentina expects Lionel Messi to help her secure a place in the knockout stages of the Copa America with a victory against Paraguay on Monday. Argentina leads Group A with Chile and will hope for an inspired Messi at the Mane Garincha Stadium in Brazil, while the 33-year-old football giants are looking for their first Copa America trophy with Argentina.

Argentina and Chile have four points, one more than third-placed Paraguay, which has a game on hand. Uruguay and Bolivia have zero points.

The top four teams in each group advance to the knockout stages.

“We will play game after game, but it is clear that we have a great team and where we can go depends only on ourselves,” said Argentina defender Christian Romero.

Messi played a key role in Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Chile and his 1-0 victory over Uruguay. Against Paraguay, Messi will make his 147th appearance in Argentina, equaling the record of Javier Mascherano.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni may not be able to rely on midfielder Giovanni Lo Celso and winger Nicolas Gonzalez due to injuries to Exequiel Palacios and Angel Di Maria respectively. Paraguay, who beat Bolivia 3-1 in their only match so far, have never beaten Argentina in 22 matches in the South American championship.

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