The first Copa America quarterfinal match took place last night when Brazil met Paraguay. The mandate for outgunned Paraguay was clear from the outset; defend at all costs. Paraguay did not win a match in the Group Stage, somehow getting through to the quarterfinals as a result of two draws, and they knew their best hope against Brazil was to hold firm in the back and hope for the best. Despite Fabian Balbuena picking up a red card in the 58th minute, they managed to do just that, forcing Brazil into penalties. There, the teams were tied at three all heading into the last round, and Gabriel Jesus played the hero for the hosts by making his penalty and sending Brazil into the semifinals. Brazil will face either Venezuela or Argentina in Belo Horizonte on July 2.
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Argentina -1 vs. Venezuela, O/U 2 and 2.5
Once again, Argentina have been disappointing at an international tournament. They were blanked 2-0 by Colombia in their first match of the Group Stage, and they needed a Lionel Messi penalty kick to salvage a draw with Paraguay. Only a win over lowly Qatar sent them through to the knockout rounds.
As for Venezuela, they have been playing solid football. They hammered the United States 3-0 in a friendly before the start of Copa America, and they continued that strong defending with 0-0 draws against both Peru and Brazil. Venezuela grabbed the win they needed over Bolivia in their last match to advance with two goals coming from Darwin Machis.
I think there is solid value in Venezuela in this match. They have defended very well in recent weeks, and they have some real weapons in Machis, Josef Martinez, and Salomon Rondon. Argentina are shaky in defense, and the young weapons up front have not yet clicked with Messi.
Colombia PK and -0.5 vs. Chile, O/U 2
Los Cafeteros were the most impressive team in the Group Stage of Copa America. They didn’t give up a goal in wins over Argentina, Qatar, and Paraguay and they are a serious threat to win it all. This team has a myriad of weapons, and Duvan Zapata has continued his breakout season following a fantastic year at Atalanta.
Chile are the defending Copa America champions, but this is not the same team that was so great in 2015 and 2016. Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal are no longer the same players, and Colombia will be able to have success against this defense. I see James Rodriguez finding the back of the net at least once in a victory for Colombia.
Uruguay -0.5 and -1 vs. Peru, O/U 2 and 2.5
Uruguay are the kings of Copa America, having won this competition more than any other country. They were the last country to win the tournament not named Chile, and they are a top contender this year.
This is Uruguay’s last dance with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez and both players have already registered multiple goals at this competition. That’s a very good sign headed into their match with Peru.
I like this Peru team quite a bit, but they don’t have much talent. Their offense still devolves into sending long balls up front to Paulo Guerrero and hoping for the best far too often, and the only team they have scored against at this competition is lowly Bolivia.
I’m more than happy to lay the goals with Uruguay here. Their midfield will create a lot of chances, and they have two world-class strikers that can finish them off.
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