PALO ALTO: Chile captain Claudio Bravo says Lionel Messi’s fitness will have no bearing on how the Copa America champions prepare for Monday’s (Tuesday in Manila) heavyweight showdown against Argentina in Santa Clara.
Bravo’s Barcelona teammate Messi is uncertain to line up for the Argentines as he struggles back to fitness after suffering a back injury in a friendly against Honduras last month.
However Bravo said regardless of whether Messi plays or not, it will not affect Chile’s approach to a game that is a rematch of last year’s Copa America final in Santiago won by the hosts.
“Whether Leo does or doesn’t play, nothing is going to change our football,” goalkeeper Bravo told reporters on Saturday.
“Personally, I’d prefer it if he plays because he brings a lot to a game.” “Knowing Leo, he will want to play, particularly this game, because it’s the first match of the tournament.
“But we’re not going to change the way we play, we will do what we’ve always done,” Bravo added.
Chile defeated Argentina on penalties in last year’s Copa final, winning the title for the first time in their history.
Bravo said the Chileans are determined not to relinquish their crown in the United States, where the Copa is being held for the first time to mark the tournament’s centenary.
“We’re very hopeful about retaining the title, and you’re going to see a Chilean team that is very aggressive,” Bravo said.
Argentina and Chile are expected to top Group D, with the other two teams in the group Panama and Bolivia.