Sun, 03 Dec 2023

RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid forward Rodrygo said Saturday he is ready to assume greater responsibility within Brazil's national team ahead of his side's FIFA World Cup qualifier Argentina.

Rodrygo will be his team's chief attacking threat at the Maracana stadium on Tuesday in the absence of injured teammates Neymar and Vinicius Junior.

Neymar underwent surgery on his left knee earlier this month while Vinicius suffered a hamstring tear in Brazil's 2-1 loss to Colombia on Thursday.

"It's only natural that the responsibility on me will increase," Rodrygo told a news conference.

"We were already without Neymar and now Vini is out too. That means people will expect more of me and I hope to reciprocate. I'm working as hard as I can and I'll be giving my best [on Tuesday]."

Reigning world champion Argentina currently leads the 10-team South American qualifying group with 12 points from five games while Brazil is fifth with seven points.

Rodrygo described the rivalry between Brazil and Argentina as "special" and lavished praise on eight-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi.

"Games between Brazil and Argentina are always different," he said. "Even though I've participated in important games, this will definitely be one of the biggest I've played in.

"Messi is one of the greatest players in the history of football. We respect him a lot because of everything he's done and still does. He's one of the greatest players ever and we're going to be very careful with him."

Rodrygo revealed that he could again be deployed as an attacking midfielder against the Albiceleste, as he was against Colombia in Barranquilla.

"I'll try to adapt to the No. 10 role if that's what is asked of me," the 22-year-old said. "It's about trying to seize this opportunity in the best way possible."

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