We’ve seen some exciting soccer during the group stages of the Copa America that included a couple of upsets and the suspension of one of the tournament’s biggest stars. So with that in mind, the bar is set pretty high as we head into the quarterfinals. Here a full rundown on the matchups.
June 24: Chile – Uruguay
Chile lead by Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez, won Group A ahead of Bolivia. The host nation won two and drew one game. They destroyed Bolivia 5-0 in the final group game, and they will be the favorites heading into the game against Uruguay. But they can’t take Uruguay lightly as they have some really good players, including Edinson Cavani and Jose Gimenez.
Uruguay had one win, one loss and one draw in Group B and ended third behind Argentina and Paraguay. They opened up with a 1-0 win over Jamaica, followed by a narrow 1-0 loss to Argentina. They finished up the group stage by drawing 1-1 with Paraguay. Uruguay has a solid defense, but will it be enough to keep the attacking forces of Chile at bay? and Cavani needs to find the net if Uruguay is to make to the semifinals.
June 25: Bolivia – Peru
Despite the 5-0 thrashing Bolivia was handed by Chile, they still performed above expectations and finishing second in the group was a great success for the 89th-ranked team in the world. Bolivia started out with a scoreless draw against Mexico in the opening game, before beating Ecuador 3-2 in the second game.
Martin Smedberg-Dalence was really good in that game as he had a goal and an assist. Smedberg-Dalence’s story is pretty remarkable, seeing that he didn’t make his international debut until the age of 30 as he played in one game in 2014 for the Bolivians. He’s of mixed heritage (Bolivian and Swedish) and has represented Sweden at the youth level. Currently “MSD” represents IFK Gothenburg in the Swedish Allsvenskan.
Peru finished second in Group C, two points behind Brazil. A 1-0 win over Venezuela and a scoreless draw against Colombia was enough to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. They also pushed Brazil right until the end i the opening game which they lost 2-1 after Douglas Costa scored the winner for the Brazilians in added time.
June 26: Argentina – Colombia
Argentina had a bit of meltdown in the opening game against Paraguay. The Argentinians were up comfortably 2-0 but Paraguay came back to tie the game in the second half. The draw against Paraguay was followed by wins over Uruguay (1-0) and Jamaica (1-0). Sergio Aguero is in fine form and has two of the four goals that Argentina has scored so far in the tournament. Then they also have the best player in the world in Lionel Messi, so Argentina is definitely the favorites going into this one.
But they can’t take Colombia lightly. This is a team that has a couple of world-class players as well in James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao. Colombia was shocked by Venezuela in the opening game, losing 1-0. That loss was followed up by a 1-0 win over Brazil and the scuffle that occurred after the final whistle was the basis of Neymar’s suspension. They then drew 0-0 in the final group game against Peru. This has all the ingredients to be a real thriller with lots of goals.
June 27: Brazil – Paraguay
Can Brazil go all the way without Neymar? That is the big question for the team and the nation of Brazil as their star striker is suspended for four games after the events that happened after the final whistle in the game against Colombia which they lost 1-0. They won the opening game 2-1 over Peru after a late winner by Douglas Costa, and they also beat Venezuela with the same score in the last group game. Roberto Firmino is now the first choice at striker and he got a goal in the game against Venezuela.
Paraguay shocked a lot of us as they came back in the game against Argentina despite being down 2-0 to at least salvage a point. It must have been a great morale booster for the team as they followed that up with a 1-0 win over Jamaica with Edgar Benitez scoring the lone goal. In the final group stage game they drew 1-1 with neighbors Uruguay and Lucas Barrios got the goal for Paraguay to tie that game up. Paraguay never gives up, so they will be a tough challenge for the Brazilians on Saturday.