The stage is now set for the quarterfinals of South America’s premier competition, the 2021 Copa America.
Indeed, there have been few surprises in terms of the qualified teams due to the format of the competition. The best four teams in a group of five qualify for the knockouts. It seemed certain the ‘big boys’ will make it past this stage.
However, this creates for very fierce competition from this point all the way to the final. The top teams like Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay will face off for a chance to lift the title.
The Albiceleste have gradually picked up the pace and showed why they should be viewed as favourites after starting the tournament with a draw against Chile.
Chile managed to progress as the fourth-best team in group A. The former champions have been underwhelming at this competition.
The hosts cruised through group B, finishing as winners. They qualified before the final match and Tite was able to give the fringe lads a few minutes.
Bolivia and Venezuela were eliminated from the tournament having failed to garner sufficient points from their respective groups.
Peru vs Paraguay
Both teams will fancy their chances against each other after successfully avoiding bigger teams.
Peru finished second behind Brazil in Group B. They had begun the tournament with a 4-0 loss to the group winners before defeating Colombia and Venezuela.
Los Incas’ Achilles heel has to be their defence as well as an inability to score. They conceded seven goals and scored just five in matches.
Benevento forward, Gianluca Lapadula will prove key for Peru in terms of the goals.
Paraguay, on the other hand, finished as the third-best team in group A, winning two and losing two. Their best performance came against Chile who they defeated 2-0.
Newcastle forward, Miguel Almiron is likely to start from the bench after limping off in their last match against Uruguay.
This looks like an even fixture with both teams just about equal in status.
Brazil vs Chile
This looks sure to be one of the more gruelling quarterfinal matches.
Selecao is the bookmakers’ favourite to win the competition. Indeed, they have looked and played the part.
The 2019 champions finished the group with three wins from four matches. They have the best scoring record at this tournament with 10 goals.
Tite’s men will be fresh and fit for this one with key players rested for the game against Ecuador.
Neymar, Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus will likely start in attack.
Chile only managed to escape group A, winning just one of four matches. La Roja scored only three goals in four matches.
They have been missing the dynamism and creativity of Alexis Sanchez who is injured. There is also the case of the squad being on its last legs.
Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas will be relied on to inspire the team against the tournament favourites.
Prediction: Brazil to win (1)
Uruguay vs Colombia
This encounter promises plenty of excitement and drama as the tournament’s most successful team takes on perennial underachievers.
Uruguay began the competition slowly, losing its first match against Argentina and managing a 1-1 draw against Chile. They defeated Bolivia and Paraguay to put themselves back in the reckoning.
Oscar Tabarez will be relying in his forwards, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani to deliver the goals.
Colombia has failed to impress in this championship. La Tricolor managed just one win in the group stage. They qualified in third place.
They are without James Rodriguez who wasn’t called up. Hence, eyes will be on Luis Murriel and Carlos Bacca to deliver the goals. Yerry Minna will be the man to ensure solidity in defence.
Prediction: Uruguay to qualify
Argentina vs Ecuador
Argentina is arguably the second favourite for the Copa America title after Brazil. It does look that time is winding down on this group’s opportunity to win a major international trophy, especially with Lionel Messi edging ever so close to retirement.
The Albiceleste are unbeaten so far with three wins and a draw. Messi has continued to inspire the team with three goals and two assists.
The team still has it weakness in defence with Ezequiel Garay and Gabriel Otamendi very vulnerable. However, they possess so much quality in attack with Angel Dimaria and Lautaro Martinez.
Ecuador has not won a single game at this competition. They managed three points from three draws.
Jordy Caicedo and Villarreal’s Pervis Estupinan are the side’s key players.
Ecuador will put up a fight but the gulf in quality should be enough to help Argentina progress.
Prediction: Argentina To Win (2)