Argentina’s Rodrigo de Paul: ‘Messi surprised me. He enjoys a song, cards’

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Rodrigo de Paul had imagined it, however now not like this. “We had gone years without playing a Copa América in our country and we had the chance to live that,” he says. “We know the passion Argentinians feel. We knew stadiums would have been bursting. We knew that every team that came to play wouldn’t just be facing us but 60,000 or 70,000 people shouting. We saw it in Brazil two years ago it was like they played with an extra man. This year was our turn, with us it was going to be even more powerful, but …”However Argentina are heading again to Brazil. The Copa América used to be intended to start out on the Huge in Buenos Aires on 12 June 2020. As an alternative, it starts on the Mané Garrincha in Brasília this Sunday; De Paul and his Argentina teammates get started the next evening in opposition to Chile in Rio. Not on time a 12 months, the contest used to be misplaced via co-hosts Colombia amid political unrest on 20 Would possibly. Ten days later, Argentina relinquished, too, as a result of the coronavirus disaster. The day after, the 2019 hosts stepped in, if now not precisely willingly.The 2019 winners, too. Argentina have been overwhelmed 2-0 within the semi-final via Brazil, Lionel Messi despatched off within the third-place play-off, refusing to wait the medals rite and passed a three-match ban for announcing the contest have been “set up” for his or her opponents, the refereeing “corrupt”. But De Paul insists that Argentina left “proud”.There used to be, he says, one thing deeper and extra vital past the disappointment: a brand new technology, new hope after the 2018 International Cup, a brand new technology rising beneath the chief, Lionel Scaloni, which aspires to luck this month. It’s one the Udinese midfielder stands on the center of – although, drawing on his mate, he calls himself “a spare tyre”, a telling description that claims a lot about how he sees soccer, a collective moral sense to head together with his high quality.“This process started with the [last] Copa América,” De Paul says. “With a new cycle of players, we had 14 shots on Brazil’s goal, hit the bar, the post. We started a process then that has followed the same path: we beat Brazil, drew with Uruguay, drew with Germany in Dortmund, beat Mexico, drew with Chile, won in La Paz which we hadn’t done for something like 20 years. We went nine, 10 games without losing. With every result we had fewer doubts, we grew. The virus interrupted it but I think the process is good.”Rodrigo de Paul says: ‘Anything I have to do to wear the Argentina shirt, I’ll do.’ {Photograph}: Juan Mabromata/EPAAnd then, unprompted, he provides: “And for that process, we have the best captain we could have. I’m not going to talk about his footballing level, because that’s beyond debate. As a person and a guide, Leo [Messi] is incomparable. Having him, everything is easier.“On a human level, I only had contact with him once: at Valencia-Barcelona. We’re talking 2014. Apart from that I didn’t know him. Given everything he lives through – you can’t go anywhere; set foot in an airport and 200 people are there – he could be a reserved character, so he surprised me. He enjoys having a mate, enjoys listening to a song, enjoys truco [cards]. We do warmup games where you dribble, jump a hoop, shoot. I say: ‘Leo; I’ll take you on.’ He loves that. That humanises him. You can see him as existing in another dimension but he’s a person.”However are you able to win? De Paul laughs. “No, it’s impossible. And I would tell you if I did, eh. You can try to put him off, try anything, but it’s impossible.”ProfileGuillermo Maripán: Europe’s top-scoring central defenderShowA check of the way a long way this new Argentinian technology has travelled, whether or not it could get past the ones limitations, comes within the first recreation. Argentina face Chile, the rustic that beat them within the last two years working – and on consequences. Chile are able, insists Guillermo Maripán, the Monaco centre-back who used to be the top-scoring central defender in Europe this season however who is aware of his activity shall be targeted extra on preventing Lionel Messi. And, then, within the very subsequent recreation, preventing Luis Suárez.  “The best thing you can do is call a teammate to help you,” he says. “Or better still, two teammates. Between the two or three of you, you try to get the ball off of him, but it’s still very difficult against Messi. “Suárez is a difficult to mark because of the way he moves, the physicality, bumping into defenders and with the intelligence that he has. He never stops for a second: he spends the entire match on the move, changing position, jumping, bumping into you so he’s the type of striker that is very difficult to deal with. He’s a little bit more aggressive and although ultimately you can handle it, it’s more work, you can’t switch off. That’s him, that’s what he’s like. But he’s a great professional and he’s had a fantastic career.” Get via the ones and Brazil may just wait for. However Maripán has reason why to be assured: this in any case is the person who managed Kylian Mbappé when Monaco received at Paris Saint-Germain this season. So when he’s requested who the match’s favourites are, the answer is swift: “For me it’s Chile,” he says.{Photograph}: Agustín Marcarian/X03747Thank you in your comments.De Paul has received them over, a fixture since Scaloni took fee. Paying attention to him analyse his recreation is to look why, the intensity and perception putting. “Scaloni understands my despliegue [physical coverage] and the tactical understanding Italy teaches,” De Paul says. “With that, we can cover Leo Paredes and help Messi. I have the despliegue to press the full-back or cover. How would I explain my role? I’m a like a spare tyre. Often important players rest on me.”It’s a sexy unflattering (self-)description for the Udinese captain, a number of the remarkable footballers in Serie A, offering 9 objectives and 9 assists this season. “But I have no problem putting it like that,” he insists. “And anything I have to do to wear the Argentina shirt, I’ll do. Everything comes in its own time: there’s a moment to get into the box and score, to break lines, to help Leo be fresh to attack or hold for Paredes. You complement them.“People talk about goals and assists but I was looking for stats on ball recoveries the other day. I’m on almost treble the first year: it was 150, it’s over 400 now. What I didn’t have then, now I do. So now you think: ‘OK, what’s next? What’s missing?’ The day I stop playing for Argentina, it will be because someone was better, not because I didn’t work. I like giving passes more than scoring and there are moments to throw yourself into tackles. I don’t have a problem doing that, nor do I want to be on the front pages.”Rodrigo de Paul in motion for Udinese in opposition to Internazionale final month. {Photograph}: Anadolu Company/Getty ImagesThat has made De Paul a phenomenal proposition. Atlético Madrid have an interest. The Premier League has known as and can once more. A abruptly deleted tweet final autumn spoke back to stories of a transfer to Leeds with a hands crossed. He went nowhere then; it kind of feels most likely he’s going to, his suitors much more vital and Udinese alert to the marketplace.“I was very sincere, very clear with whom I had to be clear,” De Paul says. “I said what I thought, what I want. I’m 27 now. I’m not going to speak anywhere else because I respect everyone at Udinese, especially the fans who really love me.”Any other Copa América, extra drive, extra expectation. Argentina have two times been runners-up, International Cup runners-up too, nevertheless it used to be now not sufficient, Messi portrayed as a failure. “For me, they’re heroes,” De Paul says. “I understand that people in Argentina need a trophy, a victory. Because people ask of the football team what isn’t given in other spheres: government, work, insecurity. As they don’t have anyone to demand that from, anyone to unload on, they turn to football.Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks.“What matters is to arrive on the first day and try to leave the last. In a final, the ball hits the post. It’s a centimetre. Football is moments. You can’t base judgments on a missed penalty.”Now Argentina check out once more, although it’s now not the way in which they sought after it, a match mired in disaster for which there’s now not the standard enthusiasm. “We’re in a moment in life that no one taught us how to live through and we have to be very careful at every step,” De Paul says. “Fans bring life to football and I want them back soon, with all my heart. They make it just as beautiful as players do. But it’s up to us now to take that happiness into their homes.”

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