Lionel Messi and his Argentina teammates know that they have big hurdle in Venezuela to scale if they must advance further at the ongoing Copa America in Brazil, and the nemesis’ team’s striker Salomon Rondon boasts they set to poop la Albiceleste’s party in the Friday’s quarter-final clash at Maracana Stadium.
Argentina beat Venezuela in the quarter-finals of the 2016 Copa America, but they know that their opponents have since matured to a level of staunch nemesis. Rondon and co did not lose to the Messi-led side in their last three encounters across different competitions.
Venezuela held the Albiceleste to two draws during 2018 World Cup qualifying, took three points off them in the previous Cycle and prevailed 3-1 in a March friendly, a game that heralded Messi’s return from his self-imposed international exile.
Messi is still ambitious to win a major title with Argentina, but Rondon says Venezuela will put spanners into their wheels in Brazil. He believes he and teammates will uncork the same antidote that kept Messi quiet in their previous clashes.
Argentina beat Qatar 2-0 in Port Alegre to claim the second quarter-final spot in Group B, after stuttering with a defeat to Colombia and draw with Paraguay. But Venezuela promise to be a harder nut to crack.
Venezuela finished second in Group A, behind host nation Brazil and the Rafael Dudamel’s fighters are ready to ruffle feathers once again.
The Barcelona captain netted when these teams met in the quarter-finals of the Copa America Centenario three years ago but Rondon, Venezuela’s inspirational
centre-forward, does not anticipate a repeat.
“He has been an important player not only for Argentina but for world football,” West Brom forward, Rondon said.
“Everyone knows who he is, but we know how to play against him. We showed this in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, if I’m not mistaken.
“We know our conditions, our qualities and we will take advantage on Friday.”