Argentina hints at more changes for Copa America quarters

Argentina's coach Lionel Scaloni reacts at the sidelines during a Copa America Group B soccer match against Paraguay at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Wednesday, June 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has made team changes for every Copa America game so far and has hinted at alterations again for Friday's quarterfinal against Venezuela

RIO DE JANEIRO — Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has made team changes for every Copa America game so far.

In fact, he has not used the same starting lineup in any of his 13 matches since taking charge following the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

During training in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, Scaloni hinted at changes again for the quarterfinal against Venezuela at the Maracana Stadium on Friday.

In the 15 minutes that reporters were allowed to watch at Fluminense's training ground in the west of Rio, Scaloni tried Juan Foyth at right back in place of Renzo Saravia. German Pezzella took over from Foyth in central defense, while midfielder Marcos Acuna was preferred to Giovani Lo Celso.

Saravia started the 2-0 defeat against group rivals Colombia in the opening match for Argentina. He was replaced by Milton Casco for the 1-1 draw against Paraguay, but returned to the team for the 2-0 victory against Qatar.

Scaloni praised Acuna after he came on in the second half against Qatar. "I enjoyed the minutes I had," Acuna said. "We are good up front and in defense, but also working hard to improve things we have to correct."

Acuna downplayed the importance of the last match against Venezuela, which ended in a 3-1 defeat for Argentina in March. "That was a friendly, this is more important," he said. "We will go with all we have got. If we give our best, the result will come."

Venezuela has never won the Copa America and is yet to qualify for a World Cup.

Striker Lautaro Martinez, who scored the first goal against Qatar, also featured up front on Wednesday alongside Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero. Paulo Dybala and Angel di Maria seem set to remain on the bench.

Goalkeeper Franco Armani said Scaloni's constant tinkering was not a problem.

"We have the best players, the one coming in is ready to do it, and we all have chances," Armani said. "Match by match we have more security."

Friday's winner will play host Brazil or underdog Paraguay in the semifinals.

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