Argentina squeezed their way into the Copa America quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over Qatar and they'll face Venezuela in the quarterfinals.
That completes a heavyweight lineup containing superstar names Messi, Suarez, Jesus & Sanchez aiming to spearhead their sides to continental glory. What are we expecting from these clashes?
Brazil vs Paraguay 🇧🇷 🇵🇾
Paraguay arrives at the quarterfinals having yet to win a game, while Brazil's seven-point tally really should have been nine. Brazil lost talisman Neymar Jr and Real Madrid wonder kid Vinicius to injuries, but they have enough technical quality in reserve to out-class a physical Paraguay side.
Key men 🔑
Gabriel Jesus has recently been handed the number nine jersey for Manchester City, an honour he already enjoys when wearing the Selecao jumper. In Neymar's absence, he is Brazil's chief goal-getter. Newcastle's talented attacking midfielder Miguel Almiron will have to be at his best to tilt the scales in Paraguay's advantage here, they're not expected to have much of the ball and he will have to use it wisely when he's in possession.
Prediction: Brazil 2-0 Paraguay
EDITOR'S NOTE: Brazil advanced to the semifinals, winning on penalties after a goalless draw.
Venezuela vs Argentina 🇻🇪 🇦🇷
Lionel Messi and Argentina left it to the last minute to claim their place in the round of 16, just as they did last year at the World Cup. Their campaign started disastrously with a 2-0 loss to Colombia and they followed that up with a 1-1 draw with Paraguay, leaving their hopes in the balance. Again, the weight of the world will rest on Lionel Messi's shoulders as he aims to claim silverware for his country, pretty much the only footballing achievement to have eluded him so far.
Key men 🔑
Another Newcastle man is represented in the Copa America quarterfinals, with Venezuela's striker Salomon Rondon hoping to wreak havoc against a suspect defensive unit. Of course, no words are required to explain why Lionel Messi is the key ingredient to anything that Argentina cooks up. Will he be able to inspire them to the title?
Prediction: Venezuela 0-1 Argentina
Colombia vs Chile 🇨🇴 🇨🇱
Chile, veterans of Copa America success in this decade, have six players in their squad with 100 caps or more, but the feeling is that this side has gone well beyond its peak. There are survivors from the 2015 Copa America winning side but they won't be able to execute the high-tempo game that won the tournament four years ago. Colombia's strength in depth is evidenced by the fact that Duvan Zapata and Davinson Sanchez, a Champions League finalist with Tottenham, must settle for places on the bench.
Key men 🔑
James Rodriguez is still negotiating his future at club level, but he remains a central figure to the Colombian cause in a system designed to get the most out of his technical brilliance and negate the deficiencies in his game. Chile's Alexis Sanchez stands at a similar crossroads at Manchester United, but the group stages of Copa America have shown that the livewire is still capable of producing his Arsenal form n short bursts. Colombia should be too fresh and smart here though.
Prediction: Colombia 2-1 Chile
Uruguay vs Peru 🇺🇾 🇵🇪
Oscar Tabarez, now in his 13th year as Uruguay boss, blended youth and experience wisely in a group stage that, apart from a 2-2 draw and scare against Japan, saw his side cruise through at leisure. With the ultra-talented defensive combination of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez and their riches in attack, they should have too much quality for Peru.
Key men 🔑
Edinson Cavani is the ultimate channel-striker, a man that works tirelessly to help his side gain numerical advantages all over the pitch, and he's clinical in front of goal too. His more illustrious and talented strike partner, Barcelona's Luis Suarez, is a frequent beneficiary of Cavani's hard work. Peru defensive midfield shield Renato Tapia has a busy night ahead of him, breaking down Uruguay attacks and attempting to gain an ascendancy over the balanced Uruguayan central duo of Lucas Torreira and Rodrigo Bentancur.
Prediction: Uruguay 2-0 Peru
Brazil vs Paraguay gets underway in the early hours of Friday the 28th, kickoff is at 03:30 EAT.
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