Argentina is a big favorite against Ecuador in the Copa America quarterfinals, led by Lionel Messi.

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After three draws and a loss, Ecuador is yet to win a match, but Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has “great respect” for his countryman Gustavo Alfaro’s squad.

During a Copa America soccer match, Argentina’s Lautaro Martinez, center, celebrates scoring his team’s fourth goal against Bolivia with teammate Lionel Messi, second left. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

RIO DE JANEIRO, RIO DE JANEIRO, RIO DE JANEI Argentina has Lionel Messi, history, and form on its side as it prepares to face Ecuador in the Copa America quarterfinals on Saturday.

After three draws and a loss, Ecuador is yet to win a match, but Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has “great respect” for his countryman Gustavo Alfaro’s squad.

“Ecuador is a fast-paced, dynamic team that might make it difficult for anyone. They have a diverse cast of characters “Scaloni explained.

Argentina won three games and drew one, and Messi was in excellent form.

In the four games, the captain scored three goals, breaking the record for most Argentina caps.

Messi, who does not appear to be bothered by the fact that his contract with Barcelona is coming to an end, is benefiting from a squad that allows him to play around the penalty box rather than further away from the goal.

Scaloni, on the other hand, has some decisions to make before the match at the Olimpico Stadium in Goiania.

The first is whether or not defender Cristian Romero, who is suffering from left knee soreness, will be able to participate.

Romero’s replacement, according to the coach, may be Germán Pezzella.

There was also a battle for left back between Nicolás Tagliafico and Marcos Acua.

Leandro Paredes, a midfielder, is likely to start, but Guido Rodrguez, who has had a strong season, might still take his position.

After six matches, Ecuador is in third place in the South American World Cup qualifiers, but has struggled in the Copa America.

Ecuador player Jhegson Méndez said, “We can’t alter the past, but we can change the present.”

“We have no fear of anyone; we are focused on the fact that we have the opportunity to make history at Copa America.”

Alfaro has been chastised in Argentina for being overly defensive, but a game like Saturday’s, in which Ecuador is a massive underdog, appeals to him.

“Argentina has a tradition and experience edge, but another tournament has begun,” Alfaro added.

“It isn’t always the case that the team with the better appearance wins. Those who get it right win in this type of game, while those who make mistakes lose.”

Enner Valencia and Gonzalo Plata, as well as midfielders Méndez and Moisés Caicedo, are all recovering from injuries.

In the semifinals, the winner will face either Colombia or Uruguay.




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