The Copa America semi-finals are set as the first round of knockout games concluded on Saturday. The final four teams gave fans everything that could’ve wanted heading in to the tournament, with the defending champions, an underdog, and a dream match-up. Chile will face upset-minded Peru as they continue their attempt at a third straight Copa America crown. Argentina will battle the hosts Brazil in a meeting of South America’s two most storied footballing nations.
The hope will be that this knockout round will provide more entertainment than the quarterfinals. Three of those four games were decided in penalties after a scoreless 90 minutes. Argentina was the only team to score last round, with a 2-0 victory over Venezuela. The Copa America Semifinals will add another element, with extra time now coming into play before a draw would head to penalties.
Copa America Semi-Final Preview
Chile v Peru
Each of these nations has lifted this trophy twice in their history. However, Peru’s last title was in 1975, while Chile are in search of their third consecutive championship.
Despite the recent success of having performed well in last summer’s World Cup, Peru making the Copa America semi-finals comes as a surprise. With a win, a draw, and a loss in the group stage, they advanced as the top third-place team. They survived against heavily favoured Uruguay, with three potential goals being called back for offside. In the penalty shoot-out, Luis Suarez had his attempt saved, and the underdogs converted all five kicks of their from the spot. Three different players have scored for Peru, who outside of a 5-0 drubbing by Brazil have only allowed one goal in three other contests.
This generation of Chilean players have been through a lot together. Now they look to become the first country since Argentina in the 1940s to win a third consecutive Copa America crown. After a disappointing club season, Alexis Sanchez has shone brightly this summer. He has two goals in four matches and converted the penalty that sent his country into this semi-final. Chile play an up-tempo aggressive style and will look to pressure Peru into mistakes that attackers Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas can turn into goal-scoring chances.
Brazil v Argentina
Easily the two biggest storylines of the tournament collide in this match-up. Brazil are looking to win for the fifth time as the host nation, while Lionel Messi is trying to finally lift a trophy for Argentina. Both of these teams carry the burden of tradition into this rivalry match-up.
The host nation is always under pressure to perform well in a tournament but that only adds to the constant pressure Brazil’s high footballing standard already places on the team. Everton Soares has been the breakout star in this competition. He has scored twice and plays with the attacking flair and creativity that Brazilian fans expect. They are coming off a frustrating performance where they failed to breakdown Paraguay’s stubborn defence. Their trio of talent attackers Phillipe Couthino, Gabriel Jesus, and Roberto Firmino need to step up and lead Brazil’s attack. This team has, at times, looked slow and disconnected in the final third. Alisson Becker has been a brick wall in goal having not conceded a goal yet.
The story with Argentina will revolve around Messi until he is no longer playing. That is what comes with being the best player on the planet. After a frustrating first two contests, this team has won two in a row. Striker Lautaro Martinez has a goal in each of the last two matches. He now has six goals in ten career appearances for the senior national team. Giovani Lo Celso also scored in the quarter-final victory and has looked good in midfield. Messi has not been on top form, but his ability to take over match is still as dangerous as ever. The last two games have seen younger players step up, now stars Messi and Sergio Aguero need to raise their level of play.
The Copa America semi-finals have no shortage of talented players and intriguing storylines. Chile’s golden generation are looking for a historical accomplishment. Peru are looking to shock the football world and pull off a string of upsets. On the other hand, Brazil and Argentina will clash in a battle of club football stars trying to live up to national team expectations. After three scoreless draws out of four quarter-final match-ups, the hope is that we get much more excitement moving forward.