The pick of the two matches at the Copa America on Thursday evening is the second game of the night where title contenders Chile take on an underrated Paraguay side in a big clash in Group A in Brasilia.
These two sides have probably been the best two to watch in Group A and given that they both have a win under their belt already they are likely to be through to the knockout stages so this is all about building confidence and improving the league position.
Chile have played fairly well in their opening three matches and they are definitely into the knockout stages now. The only question over them is where they will finish in the group. This is their final group match and a win will take them to the top ahead of the final Argentina match over the weekend. A defeat would see them drop to third and they might end up in fourth where they would face Brazil in the quarter final. I suspect that is something they would want to avoid if possible.
Chile have attacked well in this tournament but they have only scored once in each match and if they are going to win the whole competition then you would think they will need to be a little more ruthless in front of goal, especially as they aren’t the best defensively and look vulnerable against set pieces. Injuries are beginning to have a say on the Chileans as well so they might be glad that they don’t play in the final set of matches in this group.
I’ve been impressed with Paraguay so far in the competition. I highlighted them as dark horses ahead of the tournament beginning and they saw off Ecuador in their opening game and actually won the shot count against Argentina in a narrow defeat. They just lacked that final pass to create the chance which would have got them the equaliser. That is something they will keep working on and when it comes Paraguay could be genuine runners in this.
Paraguay aren’t officially through to the next stage but they will be if they pick up a win here and that will be their aim. Defensively they have looked ok so far. I’m not sure how well they did against Argentina because they seem to be lacking something but they’ve only conceded two goals so far. If they can just tidy up that final third play and start finding the back of the net more consistently then this could be a decent few years for Paraguay.
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Chile remain without the attacking talents of Alexis Sanchez as he is still injured and the status of Arturo Vidal is unknown too after he went off injured in the draw with Uruguay. Eduardo Vargas is said to be carrying an injury as well so there could be a lightweight look to the Chile attack.
Paraguay may choose to stick with the same side after they gave as good as they got against Argentina last time out. Richard Sanchez will be pushing for a start though and he would add quality to the middle of the park.
Chile have only won one of their five matches this month if you include the World Cup qualifiers and that was the match against Bolivia in this tournament. That was also the only match in which both teams didn’t score in those games but we need to remember the caveat that Bolivia are without their talismanic striker in this tournament so just how much we can judge them in that match remains to be seen.
Paraguay find scoring against the very top sides in South America a little tougher than they would like but against those below the elite rung they are scoring nicely so I fancy them to find the back of the net here which makes me think that the odds against on both teams to score is the bet worth taking here. Bolivia scored against this Paraguay side in the first game so I fancy Chile to find the net and if Paraguay can show a bit of composure in the final third they can too. Both teams to score looks decent enough to me.
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