Another epic in view as Argentina face Mexico
Argentina and Mexico, who produced one of the best matches at last year's World Cup, meet again in Wednesday's Copa America semifinal promising to serve up another soccer feast.
Mexico hammered six goals past Paraguay, a team usually strong in defence, in their quarterfinal as they continued an impressive campaign which began with a 2-0 win over Brazil.
Argentina, inspired by Juan Roman Riquelme in midfield and Lionel Messi in attack, have played some exhilarating football, knocking in 13 goals on their way to the last four.
It is the fourth year in a row that the two countries have met in a competitive international.
Argentina needed a spectacular goal from Maxi Rodriguez -- who has just returned from a six-month injury layoff and is not in the squad -- to win a pulsating match 2-1 after extra time in Leipzig last year.
In the year before that, Argentina won on penalties after a 1-1 draw in their Confederations Cup semi-final while Mexico took the honours at the 2004 Copa America, winning 1-0 in the group stage with a Ramon Morales free kick.
Argentina coach Alfio Basile has the usual embarrassment of riches at his disposal and the main doubt is likely to be in attack where Diego Milito and Carlos Tevez are competing for the right to partner Lionel Messi.
Mexico's big worry is Nery Castillo, one of the tournament's revelations, who has a swollen left knee.
"It's worrying, because there are only a few hours before the game and if Nery can't play, we will lose an important player who worries opponents," said coach Hugo Sanchez.
Omar Bravo appears the most likely replacement although Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who has started three of Mexico's four games on the bench, has little doubt that he should be brought in.
"In the short time I've been on the pitch, I have shown him (Sanchez) that I'm good enough to be in the starting line-up, but he's the coach," said the controversial forward.
"But I'm not Superman, I can't set up or score a goal in 10 minutes, it's complicated, and it's difficult to come on as a substitute."
Blanco was also unimpressed by the thought of facing Messi.
"Personally, I'm not afraid of Messi, nor Maradona, nor Pele, everyone has two arms, two legs and two eyes so there's no reason to be frightened. On the contrary, we should be more motivated."
Argentina: 1-Roberto Abbondanzieri; 8-Javier Zanetti, 2-Roberto Ayala, 15-Gabriel Milito, 6-Gabriel Heinze; 20-Juan Sebastian Veron, 14-Javier Mascherano, 8-Esteban Cambiasso, 10-Juan Roman Riquelme; 18-Lionel Messi, 11-Carlos Tevez.
Mexico: 1-Oswaldo Sanchez; 5-Israel Castro, 2-Jonny Magallon, 4-Rafael Marquez, 3-Fausto Pinto; 6-Gerardo Torrado, 20-Fernando Arce, 8-Jaime Correa, 18-Andres Guardado; 12-Juan Carlos Cacho, 19-Omar Bravo or 21-Nery Castillo
Referee: Carlos Chandia (Chile).