Argentina to clash with Colombia

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Argentina coach Alfio &quot;Coco&quot; Basile released his starting eleven to face Colombia in Maracaibo on Monday.

Updated: July 03, 2007 08:44 IST
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Argentina coach Alfio "Coco" Basile released his starting eleven to face Colombia in Maracaibo on Monday.

There were no changes to Basile's full strength side that thrashed United States by 4-1, partly due to a sterling performance by Hernan Crespo who scored twice in the match.

Basile is well aware that his team can virtually seal a place in the quarter finals at the Copa America by beating Colombia in Maracaibo in their second match of the championships.

Ranked fifth in the world Argentina will want to continue their proud history at the Championships as they have lifted the trophy on 14 occasions.

And players such as attacking midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme will be aware that they are well over due to lift the trophy.

Strong team

The media were anxious to hear who would be starting, as many thought there was a possibility of a change in the midfield.

With Juan Roman Riquelme and Juan Sebastian Veron certainties, the only question mark surrounded Esteban Cambiasso but he keeps his place ahead of Pablo Aimar, who despite scoring as a second half substitute against the United States, remains on the bench.

Such is the quality, strength and depth of this team, the coach admits he faces tough decisions about which players to pick.

"It's really difficult, really difficult because thanks to god, we have so many tremendous players. The difference between each of them is tiny so it's difficult to know at any precise time which player is better than the other," said the coach.

Their impressive squad that boasts a number of world class midfielders, is arguably the greatest quality of this Argentinean side at the Copa America. With the possible exception of Riquelme and Ayala, no player is irreplaceable.

One can easily slot in and fill the position of another without any changes being made to tactics. It's a luxury that few teams have and one that their Colombians opponents have to find some way of combating.

Team tactics

Despite Colombia's 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Paraguay, Basile will not be making any hasty changes to his teams tactics.

"I always play the same system regardless who our rivals are and the players are well aware of that. Of course each game has its own characteristics but the method is the same. We'll try and keep possession of the ball as much as possible, we'll try and let the talent express itself in the final third of the pitch and we'll carry on with the same tactics," added Basile.

Although not a "classic" in the sense of Brazil, England or Uruguay, a match against Colombia is regarded as a special occasion.

The Colombians who are capable of winning the championship as they showed when they were victorious against Mexico in 2001, will be hungry to win as a loss will virtually mean packing their bags and an early exit from the tournament.

So for Argentina there is no room for complacency as defender Gabriel Milito, who plays in soccer in Spain for Zaragoza is well aware of.

"I imagine there's an element of revenge in how they approach this game and I'm sure they are looking forward to playing us. Whenever a team takes such a hammering as they did, you want to play again straight away and get it out of your system, so we have to be aware of that and conscious that this will not be an easy match," said Milito.

Fourteen years ago, Argentina suffered one of their worst ever defeats when they were beaten five nil by Colombia. The coach that day was "Coco" Basile. He'll have drummed it into his players that there is not to be a repeat of that disastrous night in Buenos Aires.

"We're calm, we know as a group what our objective is and every single player in this squad knows exactly what we're here for. We're here to achieve glory for everybody and we're working towards that," said Javier Zanetti, defender.

A win against Colombia will take Argentina another step closer to achieving that glory of raising the coveted Copa America trophy for the 15th time.

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