Rio De Janeiro, Jun 28 : Venezuela head coach Rafael Dudamel said Thursday he would not adopt a plan to stop Argentina's Lionel Messi when the teams meet in the quarterfinals of the Copa America.
Friday's clash at the Maracana stadium pits a Venezuela outfit that has exceeded the expectations of most pundits here against an underperforming Argentina side which has managed just two goals in open play from three matches.
Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has scored only once - from the penalty spot in Argentina's 1-1 draw with Paraguay - but Dudamel said he is not reading anything into the Barcelona forward's inauspicious performances so far.
"I remember what happened in 1985, (in a World Cup qualifier in San Cristobal)," Dudamel told a news conference. "We had a specific plan to man-mark Maradona but he still scored two goals and Argentina won 3-2.
"I don't waste time trying to figure out a way to stop the best player in the world. There is collective planning and we adapt that according to how the game develops. There has not yet been a manager capable of coming up with a strategy to stop Messi and it's not going to be us."
Venezuela began the continental tournament with goalless draws against Peru and Brazil before beating Bolivia 3-1 in their final group match last Saturday.
"We have always produced good pla yers but now we're adding hard work," Dudamel said of Venezuela's improvement. "We want to be protagonists. We have 95 percent of our squad based abroad and that has helped to develop our players.
"We understand the game more than we did before. The difference is in our heads and our players are now more prepared than ever." (UNI-XINHUA