The Copa America group stage concluded last night, leaving eight teams alive in the competition. The hosts, Brazil, have looked strong while traditional powerhouse Argentina has looked questionable. The field looks as competitive as ever, so who will move on to the semi-finals?
Predictions For the Copa America Quarter-Final
Brazil v Paraguay
Brazil left their group with seven points and a goal difference of plus eight. They drew versus a feisty Venezuela side but had three goals called back due to VAR. The Seleção trashed Bolivia by three goals and Peru by five.
Losing Neymar to injury before the Copa America raised questions, but Brazil’s depth going forward has shown its worth. With players like Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, David Neres and Roberto Firmino, it’s easy to see why. The midfield has remained stout and the defence has yet to concede a goal.
Paraguay, on the other hand, qualified as a third-place team with two points out of their group. A draw versus Qatar and Argentina proved to be just enough but pitted them versus the Copa favourites.
The questions, of course, is the team’s quality. The team conceded two goals versus Qatar and blew a potential victory over Argentina with a missed penalty. They looked decent versus Colombia but still lost 1-0. La Albirroja will need a performance for the ages from star Miguel Almirón to move on.
Brazil’s quality should prove to be too much. A prolific attack versus a questionable defence will not bode well for Paraguay.
Prediction: Brazil 3-0 Paraguay
Venezuela v Argentina
Not much was expected from Venezuela, but they secured five points from three matches. They drew versus Peru and Brazil but showed their potential in a 3-1 victory over Bolivia. Venezuela’s talent is not to be overlooked.
Veteran leaders Roberto Rosales and Tomás Rincon have been playing in Europe for several years. Up front, Salomón Rondón is the main danger man. The striker has had prolific seasons in Spain, Russia and England. In addition, La Vinotinto also have Josef Martínez, arguably the top forward in Major League Soccer.
Argentina have been the Copa’s biggest disappointment thus far. They started the tournament with a massive match versus Colombia but looked completely lost in a 2-0 defeat that, honestly, looks closer than it was.
They followed up the Colombia match with a draw versus Paraguay, where a saved penalty salvaged them a point. La Albiceleste looked better in a 2-0 victory over Qatar, but that was a match that they were expected to win convincingly.
This squad isn’t as deep and talented as Argentina’s 2014 World Cup squad. It isn’t just Lionel Messi, however. Talented and experienced veterans like Sergio Agüero, Paulo Dybala and Nicolas Otamendi along with rising stars like Giovani Lo Celso and Lautaro Martinez all their in support. An argument can be made that this is still the second most talented squad left.
As poor as Argentina have been, it’s still tough to count Messi out. Venezuela, however, won’t give in easily.
Prediction: Argentina 2-1 Venezuela
Colombia v Chile
Colombia won all three of their group stages games with a goal difference of plus four after not conceding a single goal. Their first match versus Argentina showed the true quality of the squad. James Rodriguez continues to shine internationally, while striker Duván Zapata has not slowed down since his breakout season in Italy this past year.
Although the team’s attack is to be feared, their defence some of the best talent in the Copa. Yerry Mina and Davinson Sánchez seem impossible to break, while David Ospina continues to be reliable in goal.
Chile, the defending champions, have lost a step since 2016, but are still a tough opponent for anyone. They started the tournament with two consecutive victories over Japan and Ecuador but fell to group winners Uruguay 1-0.
It’s no question that La Roja are ageing, but star man Alexis Sánchez looks more motivated after a very disappointing season in England. His partnership with Edu Vargas up front will be crucial versus Colombia’s stingy defence.
This match has the potential to be the most entertaining and most hard-fought of the quarterfinals. Colombia, however, have shown that they have the tools necessary to continue their successful run.
Prediction: Colombia 2-1 Chile
Uruguay v Peru
Uruguay’s only disappointment thus far has been their draw versus Japan’s young squad. Their true worth, however, was shown in their lopsided victory over Ecuador and clutch victory over Chile. The team is stacked with talent at every position on the field, and have the depth to back it up.
The defence boasts some of the world’s best in José Giménez and Diego Godín, the midfield includes rising talents in Rodrigo Bentancur and Lucas Torreira, while the attack has world beaters in Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez.
Peru opened up the Copa with a draw versus Venezuela, followed by a 3-1 victory over Bolivia. Things looked to be going right until a five-goal loss to hosts Brazil. A loss versus Brazil is not a reason to hang their heads, but the fashion in which it was done has raised questions on this Peru side.
In that match, the team only managed to keep 31 per cent of the possession and have two attempts on target. The team also does not have any standout players capable of winning big matches on their own as Paolo Guerrero and Jefferson Farfán are far past their prime in this stage.
Prediction: Uruguay 2-0 Peru
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