Ahead of their high-stakes Copa America match-up against Argentina, Colombia forward James says it would be unfair to bill the tie as a match between him and the Argentine star
Santiago: Colombia star James Rodriguez feels it would be unfair to bill his side's Copa America quarter-final tie against Argentina as a clash between him and opposing number Lionel Messi.
Argentina forward Lionel Messi during a training session in Chile's La Serena ahead their Copa America quarter-final match against Colombia tomorrow. INSET: Colombia's James Rodriguez. Pics/AFP
Jose Pekerman's side have endured a slow start to the tournament in Chile despite their wealth of talent, only scraping into the Last 8 on the final day of the group stages with a 0-0 draw against Peru.
However, the Last 8 match up between Los Cafeteros is seen as an enticing fixture as the Barcelona and Real Madrid attackers go head-to-head, though James feels the two players should not take centrestage.
"Messi is from another planet," he said. "He's a unique player, but Colombia are able to play against difficult sides with great players.
You can't just talk about a James vs Messi battle because it wouldn't be fair. If I want to be involved and there's no space, we've got other players who can break through. If I can't (find openings), others will."
The 23-year-old admitted his side have not been at their best so far in the tournament.
"This Copa America is proving very tough, nobody has been good," he said. "Only Chile have been but nobody else has been outstanding.
"It's been very equal. We're quite clear about how good the Argentina players are, we'll both be up for it, because Colombia play well and we'll try to do that."
Bolivia striker Marcelo Martins has compared Peru to four-time world champs Italy ahead of their Copa America quarter-final meeting tonight. The 28-year-old believes Peru, who finished in third place at the 2011 tourney, are a side who defend well but who will gladly punish La Verde.
"They are a team that resemble Italy, who will score goals if you let them," he told El Diario. "They've progressed by playing very well and they have players who can hold the ball up."