Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

Copa Quarterfinals

The group stages of Copa America are always something of a phony war. With only four of the twelve teams going home, the initial phase of the tournament is forgiving. Argentina have stumbled through disaster to qualify, and Paraguay have made it despite drawing twice and losing once in their section. In the quarter-finals there is no extra-time; we go straight to penalties. Suddenly, the tournament becomes ruthless and cut-throat.

Venezuela vs. Argentina

Brazil will face the winners of this match. If you had said 15 years ago that Argentina v Venezuela could be close, people would have laughed at you. Argentina are one of the world’s foremost footballing nations; Venezuela, traditionally, is a baseball country. Until qualification for the 2014 World Cup, they were CONMEBOL’s whipping boys.

But the turmoil that has engulfed Argentina since they got to the final of the 2014 World Cup, along with Venezuela’s rapid improvement, has led us to a point where Argentina are as big as 4/7 to win the match.

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni looks lost. He is miles away from knowing his best eleven or his best system. He cannot find the best role for Lionel Messi, who drew three blanks in the group stage. The defence is slow and low on quality.

Venezuela beat Argentina 3-1 in a friendly in March, and they held hosts Brazil to a 0-0 in the group stages. If they can hold Brazil, they can certainly hold an Argentina side who have not truly played well for about for years.

Tip: Draw at 14/5
Prediction: Venezuela 1, Argentina 1

Colombia vs. Chile

This match is, on paper, the closest of the four quarter-finals. Colombia are 6/5, Chile are 5/2 and the draw is 21/10. Colombia were the only team to win all their group games, deservedly beating Argentina in their first game before seeing off Qatar and Paraguay. They were fortunate enough to be able to rest a few key names for the Paraguay game, meaning that they should be fresh to face Chile.

Chile are once again relying on the squad that won the last two Copa Americas, but the group is ageing. Nonetheless, they soldiered through the group stages and managed to match highly-fancied Uruguay for much of their last group game, before losing 1-0.

The match prices are about right here. Colombia should have the edge on Chile, whose team seem simply too old to be able to play their high-energy style for 90 minutes.

Duvan Zapata, the tall Atalanta striker, has impressed hugely for Colombia, scoring the second against Argentina before netting a crucial winner against Qatar. If he gets a deserved start, the 4/1 on him opening the scoring looks more than fair.

Tip: Duvan Zapata to score first at 4/1
Prediction: Colombia 2, Chile 1

Uruguay vs. Peru

Uruguay continue to make serene progress, winning Group C thanks to Cavani’s winner against Chile. However Oscar Tabárez’s men were on the receiving end of a major shock as they were held 2-2 by a youthful Japan side. They are 8/13 to beat Peru, with Peru 9/2 to win in 90 minutes.

Tabárez continues to wrestle with one big dilemma for this match. Uruguay have two truly world class strikers in Cavani and Luis Suárez. Both must play. But the injury to Matías Vecino has meant that simply playing two centre-midfielders leaves them liable to be overrun in midfield, as happened in the first half against Chile.

Uruguay’s defence is as solid as they come, although they could be tested by a bright Peru side, although they do tend to look nervous in front of goal.

The likelihood is that Cavani will shift out wide for this match, meaning Suárez gets more chances to himself, so at 13/5 he looks a fair price to score first.

Tip: Luis Suárez to score first at 13/5
Prediction: Uruguay 2, Peru 0

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