Concepcion: Argentina forward Sergio Aguero has lauded Lionel Messi's goalscoring persistence as they bid to win the Copa America together.
Aguero, 27, and Messi, 28, have played together for a decade internationally — at youth and senior level — winning the 2008 Olympics and the 2005 Under-20 World Cup alongside each other.
Having come so close to World Cup glory last summer — losing to Germany in the final in extra-time — Argentina are now the clear favourites to win the Copa America following the elimination of rivals Brazil.
Ahead of today's semi-final clash with the conquerors of Dunga's side, Paraguay, Aguero has defended Messi from criticism after the Barcelona attacker netted only once in his side's first four matches in the South American tournament.
"Messi always wants to do better and when he does not score goals he starts saying 'I did not get lucky,'" he told TyC. "But I tell him 'be quiet, the goals will come, you have to be patient'.
Messi, the inspiration
"Leo is always under such pressure to score goals. It is the same for me, though there are 10 other players in the team than yourself.
Argentina's Lionel Messi during a training session at the Everton Sport Center in Vina del Mar, Chile on Saturday. Pic/AFP
"Obviously everyone can make mistakes, but Messi always gambles and keeps going and going. And that gives us all confidence, because if Leo keeps going then we do too."
Aguero has scored two of Argentina's four goals so far in the Copa America.
Both sides arrive in the last four after coming through a penalty shootout. Argentina defeated Colombia from the spot after a goalless tie while Paraguay eliminated Brazil after being deadlocked at 1-1 after 90 minutes.
Carlos Tevez scored the winning spot-kick for Argentina as they took a 5-4 win.
Argentina boss Gerardo Martino has his full squad at his disposal for the match, but Barcelona duo Messi and Javier Mascherano will have to take care, as will Manchester City striker Aguero, as all three have a yellow card to their name.