Thiago Silva not lulled by Lionel Messi’s Copa America struggles, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Thiago Silva not lulled by Lionel Messi’s Copa America struggles

By his own admission, Lionel Messi has not been at his best at the Copa America, but Brazil defender Thiago Silva says his side will not take their eyes off the Argentina captain for a minute in their semi-final on Wednesday morning (Singapore time).

"He is the best player in the world and he still could spring to life," said Silva, ahead of the first Copa America tie between the sides since the 2007 final, which Brazil won 3-0.

"We will have to be especially focused on him when we have the ball and when we don't.

"Sometimes he can be at walking pace during a game, but he's always looking for space to launch a counter-attack.

"It's a privilege to be able to face him again and we'll have to try and put the brakes on him."

Messi has scored just once in the tournament - from the penalty spot - and has acknowledged he is not playing at his usual level.

He had only three shots during his side's 2-0 win over Venezuela in the quarter-finals, none of which hit the target.

"This is the match for Messi to appear," screamed Argentinian sports daily Ole, ahead of the clash with Brazil.

"I'm not having my best Copa America. It's always very difficult for us because we want to do something different and attack, but teams pack the middle of the pitch," said Messi .

Argentina winger Angel di Maria says Messi is working hard for the team, even if he is not getting on the scoresheet.

"We are used to seeing him score goals, but Leo is doing very well, he is running a lot, he is working hard," he said.

"He knows more than anyone that at this Copa America, the first thing you need to do is run, then you can think about the rest - playing well and scoring."

While Argentina have not been in the best form of late, defender Nicolas Otamendi is relishing the meeting with great rivals Brazil.

He said: "Argentina-Brazil is not played every day, especially in a competition like this.

"It generates a lot of expectation, not only in our country, but in the world... We are happy to have gone to the semi-finals.

"Little by little, we are getting better." - AFP, REUTERS