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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - For Argentina left back Marcos Rojo, missing the World Cup quarter-final against Belgium through suspension comes at an inopportune time.
Rojo's solid performances in Brazil have won over his detractors back home, many who felt he was a weak link at the back while offering little attacking threat.
So far he has been on the pitch for 375 minutes out of 390, completed 73 percent of his passes and scored his first international goal in the 3-2 group stage win over Nigeria.
“Thank God people now are showing some love to Marcos, he deserves it,” team mate Sergio Romero told Reuters after his team overcame Switzerland in the last 16.
“He´s a strong player. Comes and goes, up and down the field. He defends, then attacks, he has even scored. He never gave up and he´s showing that he´s good enough to play in the national team.”
Rojo, who now plays his club football in Portugal for Sporting, won the Copa Libertadores (South American version of the Champions League) with Estudiantes under now Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella.
Sabella has stuck with Rojo despite calls not to take him to Brazil, and the coach only had words of praise for the 24-year-old on Tuesday.
“Rojo played really well. I´m happy for him because they treated him really bad and he didn't deserve it,” he said.
A second yellow card of the tournament picked up in the last 16 win over Switzerland means Rojo will be suspended for the quarter-final against Belgium on Saturday.
Jose Basanta, who replaced Rojo in extra time against the Swiss, could start while Martin Demichelis is another possibility.
editing by Justin Palmer