Copa America 2019: Five things to look out for in the Quarterfinals
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
The action at the tournament will begin to heat up as we enter the business end of the continental extravaganza.
So the Copa America definitely served up some spicy South American-styled entertainment during the final round of group stage games. Not only was there a lot of drama involving Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, but the underdogs also guaranteed a spot in the quarter-finals by grinding their way through to it.
Some high-scoring matches or some surprising low-scoring ones, this last batch of group stage matches set up the mantle for the fiery knockout stages which start in a few days time.
However, perhaps the future of the competition was made clear with some topsy-turvy results in the aforementioned week. So here we’ll look at five things we learned from matchday three of Copa America 2019.
5. Is the Suarez and Cavani combination fiery enough to help Uruguay go all the way?
They had to really fight for it, but Uruguay managed to win group C ahead of defending champions Chile to end their group stages on a high note. In what was an eventful game against La Roja, none other than Edinson Cavani popped up late on to seal the deal for La Celeste.
That now takes his tally to two goals and fellow hitman Luis Suarez has also netted twice, with the two combining to score 4 out of Uruguay’s 7 goals so far.
Both have been scoring for fun in their respective leagues in club competition, but are finally clicking to terrorize opposition. If their chemistry can attain an even deadlier touch in the knockout stages, it’s doubtful whether any defence can keep them out from taking La Celeste all the way.
4. Will Peru or Paraguay cause an upset in the quarter-finals?
Lady luck shone brightly on both Peru and Paraguay in the final group-stage matchday in Copa America. They barely attained the superior 3rd place positions after Japan were unable to defeat Ecuador, but surmounting tasks await both in the knockout stages. While Los Guaranies face Brazil, who are looking unstoppable right now, Los Incas take on a terrorizing Uruguay side.
There’s little chance they’ll pull off a spectacular knowing their toothless displays in the group stages, but if some surprises in this Copa America’s proven anything, nothing is impossible.
Influenced by Miguel Almiron, Paraguay will definitely take the game to Brazil and hope for the best, while Peru’s exciting attack will take the game to La Celeste. Who knows? Maybe fortune can favour them to cause the impossible.
3. Can Chile weather the storm against Colombia?
For a moment, Chile were looking the daunting side worthy of being two-time reigning Copa America champions. Alexis Sanchez and co were flying high before a strong Uruguay side brought them straight down to earth. Indeed, some flaws might’ve been exposed as La Celeste piped them to winning group C.
Now Colombia awaits and Carlos Queiroz’s men, who picked up a perfect 9 points in the group stages, aren’t messing about. They’re probably the most compact team in the tournament and Chile need to turn the heat up to tame them.
A superior head-to-head record in Copa America history perhaps tips the balance towards them, but La Roja definitely needs something special from their fiery attackers to stop the Colombian juggernaut.
Here it is! The quarter finals of the Copa América ????— Oh My Goal (@OhMyGoalUS) June 25, 2019
Who do you think will win the trophy? ???????? pic.twitter.com/v83CNPN7Ml
2. Could trouble be awaiting Argentina in the knockout stages?
Well, Lionel Messi and co live to fight another day. It wasn’t easy at all overcoming a fearless Qatar side, who were arguably better than Argentina in major chunks of the decisive encounter. However, strikes from Lautaro Martinez and Sergio Aguero gave their captain the perfect birthday gift, but the future doesn’t look so bright. La Albiceleste are still erratic going forward, weak in controlling possession or when it comes to creating definitive chances.
Defensively, they are a mistake ready to happen and Nicolas Otamendi’s callousness doesn’t help. While a tie against Venezuela isn’t the worst they could get, Jose Salomon Rondon and co can create big problems. La Vinotinto are a strong, relentless side themselves and even held Brazil recently, so unless Lionel Scaloni’s men are careful, a harsh reality check could be awaiting them.
1. Are Brazil clear favourites to finally lift a trophy at home?
The little scare against Venezuela doesn’t really seem so worrying anymore. If there was anyone doubting them, perhaps Brazil’s thumping 5-0 victory over Peru spoke volumes of their ambitions in this Copa America. Tite is still getting all the pieces together, but his bright, hungry unit are capable of big things when on song. With the faithful cheering them on from the stands, the Selecao are producing some excellent, attacking football reminiscent of the old days.
The competition will obviously get more difficult from now and Neymar’s absence will be felt, but with the reputed attackers finally clicking, it’ll be difficult for anyone to keep them at bay. Roberto Firmino, Everton and Philippe Coutinho are serving real firecrackers up front and as long as the hosts keep the pressure on, the Copa America trophy is probably coming home this time.
Published: Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:58 PM IST