After some of the most putrid quarter finals knockout football has ever witnessed, we’re left with a game that everyone wants to see; Brazil versus Argentina.
Argentina have been categorically awful in this year’s Copa America and yet were the only team to score a goal in the last eight. Their 2-0 win against Venezuela, coupled with three other scoreless draws, means that they are the sole team to have qualified for the final four by actually winning a game.
What once seemed a fantasy has now become a distinct reality and the Argentines have a chance of ending a long silverware drought in an open last four. If they can beat hosts Brazil, they will feel as though they have taken a major step towards that goal.
The 5-0 drubbing of Peru aside, Brazil have been poor in the Copa America this year. They have lacked cutting edge against Bolivia, Venezuela and 10-man Paraguay most recently and the pressure of ending their own trophy drought seems to be weighing heavily on their shoulders. This current crop does not seem to do well when hosting competitions either, as showcased by the 2014 World Cup.
Another semi-final elimination could be on the cards this year for the misfiring Brazilians.
Whoever came up with the idea of doing away with extra time at this year’s Copa America should probably be waiting on their P45. It has been an unmitigated disaster.
With the promise of a penalty shootout at the end of a 90-minute match, weaker teams have been able to sit in and hold out for a 50/50 chance of progressing more easily than any knockout tournament ever.
It has made for the cagiest knockout games in recent memory in a tournament that was already cagey enough to begin with during the group stages.
Brazil have yet to concede a goal at the tournament and Argentina have now kept consecutive clean sheets in their last two games. Neither has looked particularly threatening in the tournament – apart from Brazil’s demolition of Peru – and if Argentina are to progress, it’s highly doubtful to be a classic.
Argentina’s set up has been a farce; there’s no getting around that. How any team can play so poorly with the greatest player of all time in their ranks is unfathomable?
In fact, if you took Messi out of the Argentinian squad and put him in the Irish starting line-up, you can be sure Big Mick would use him a lot more effectively than Argentina.
Messi has bordered on anonymity in this year’s Copa and his one goal came from the penalty spot in a 1-1 draw with Paraguay. It is quite obvious, however, that he’s desperate to win an international trophy and this represents his best chance to do so.
We’re tipping him to click into gear on Tuesday and finally put to bed the absurd rumours that he can’t perform in the blue and white of Argentina as he leads his country to a continental final for the third consecutive Copa.
Odds correct at time of posting. Subject to change.