The first semi-final of the Copa America takes place on Tuesday night and we have what could be described as the South America Clasico to enjoy as the tournament hosts Brazil take on Argentina in a heavyweight last four clash.
Brazil had to come through a penalty shootout to make it to this stage while Argentina cantered to victory against a Venezuela side who might have been caught between sticking and twisting. The end result is a massive clash here.
It has been an up and down campaign for the hosts thus far. After labouring to the point of being booed in their opening two matches they then looked to have found their groove when demolishing Peru in their final group game, only to be taken to penalty kicks in the quarter final, albeit in a match they dominated from start to finish without finding the net, although the Paraguay keeper didn’t make too many saves out of the ordinary.
The one obvious positive for Brazil has been their defensive record which has been exemplary this far. They are yet to concede a single goal in the competition and in truth Alisson hasn’t really been tested too much. You would think that will change here but if Brazil do manage to maintain their defensive solidity then there appears to be no reason for them not to go on and make the final of their own party.
Much like their opponents in this semi-final, Argentina began the tournament very slowly. They were comfortably beaten by Colombia in their first game when their attacking play was laboured to the point that it was almost non-existent and they weren’t a whole lot better in their second game either. The final group game against Qatar came at a good time for the perennial finalists and they took the confidence they found in that match into their quarter final where they played pretty well against Venezuela.
Clearly they are up against better opposition again here so they will need to have their best game with them but if they do have that on board they are entitled to push hard for a place in another major final. One thing they are going to have to do if they are to secure a win here is tighten up big time in defence. They have looked vulnerable throughout the tournament in that area. It isn’t just their back four. It has been a lack of protection for it.
Filipe Luis is said to be a doubt for the Selecao in this match so Alex Sandro could be in line to replace him. Tite would then have to decide which of his attacking core he will use with Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle the key choice.
Lionel Scaloni also has issues with his attacking unit to decide upon. Sergio Aguero has probably done enough to remain in the side but it will be interesting to see if there is a spot for Angel di Maria or Spurs target Giovani Lo Celso.
I get the thought process that this will be a tight match between the two best sides left in the tournament but I can’t ignore a goal line of just two here. This Argentina defence does not suit a low scoring match and I find it hard to believe that they are not going to concede in this game. In fact, I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Brazil go on and cover this line on their own.
If there is one good thing for Argentina going into this semi-final it is that they have reached this stage without much help from Lionel Messi and you would think a man of his talents isn’t going to go the whole tournament without leaving his mark on it. The best players tend to appear on the biggest stages and if the Barcelona star does that here then Argentina will contribute to the scoresheet. This line just looks a little too low to me.
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