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The Copa America is underway in Chile, and Argentina have already fallen foul to the shock of the tournament so far, relinquishing a 2-0 lead against Paraguay. Neymar has already found the net for Brazil and inspired them to victory over Peru, and it promises to be a feast of football over the next few weeks.
Messi and Co. can ill afford any more slip-ups and they face a potentially tough encounter against Uruguay. Brazil continue their campaign in group C with a tie against Colombia, who are reeling after suffering a shock of their own in the 1-0 defeat to Venezuela. The two South American giants – Brazil and Argentina – have dominated this competition over the years, and there is good reason to back both to win their respective games this week and take three valuable points.
As ever with this international tournament, it is being played on the other side of the planet, so be aware of kick off times. Both games kick off in the middle of the night on UK time, with Argentina up against Uruguay at half past midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.
Argentina v Uruguay
Wednesday 17th June 00:30 (BST)
Paraguay produced a stunning comeback to deny Argentina all three points in their opener, after two quickfire first-half goals from Messi and Aguero had put Gerardo Martino’s men in charge. Argentina were left to rue a host of missed chances as Paraguay hit back in the second half, first on the hour mark then in the ninetieth minute to secure an unlikely draw. That’s left the Argentinian squad with work to do, and they face the first of two games against Uruguay and Jamaica.
Uruguay beat Jamaica 1-0 in their opener, and they sit top of the group with three points. A second-half Cristian Rodriguez goal was enough to see La Celeste to victory, but they were far from convincing in holding off a spirited Jamaican challenge. They will face Paraguay after this match, and have a good early position in the group to protect.
Draw – +290 with Betvictor
Uruguay without Suarez are a different proposition and it was evident from the game against Jamaica that they are very reliant on a solid back line. Atletico Madrid pair, Godin and Gimenez, marshall the defence superbly and they will have to be on their mettle against Argentina’s array of talent. With Messi and Aguero in tandem Argentina are devastating going forward, and they have the likes of Higuain and Tevez on the bench. This match could be turn out to be a question of whether Uruguay can keep Argentina out for 90 minutes, and one suspects the answer to that question will be ‘no’. Argentina have won four of the last six meetings to Uruguay’s one, and they can add to that record here.
Brazil v Colombia
Thursday 18th June 01:00 (BST)
Brazil got off to the perfect start with a 2-1 win over Peru, with Neymar back at the heart of everything good about the team. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing, and Peru took a shock lead in the third minute. Neymar hit back just two minutes later, but Brazil had to wait until the 90th minute until the winner came along from Douglas Costa. The win is all that matters though, and it was three points on the board for last year’s World Cup hosts.
Colombia were widely expected to take care of Venezuela in their opening match, but the 1-0 defeat has left them facing an early exit. They were surprisingly poor in that game, with the likes of Falcao and Rodriguez failing to live up to the pre-match hype, and Venezuela were good value for their win. Colombia have a terrible record against Brazil, but if they lose here they will be left on zero points with just one game against Peru to go.
Brazil – +110 with Betvictor
Colombia – +290 with Bet365
Draw – +260 with Betfred
There is no room for sentiment in football though, and Brazil are fancied to keep up their impressive record against Colombia and all but seal their own qualification. You have to go back as far as 1991 for the last Colombian victory over Brazil, and they appear to have something of a hoodoo against their rivals. Brazil beat Colombia 2-1 in the World Cup quarter-final last summer, and followed that up with a 1-0 friendly victory just a few months later.
The humiliation of the 7-1 defeat to Germany will live long in the memory of Brazilian players and fans, but their form hasn’t been affected on the pitch, and it’s now 11 wins on the trot under Dunga. Their is an air of invincibility back around this Brazil team, and in Neymar, they have a real focal point. They come into the game high on confidence and can go and attack, knowing they have three points in the bag and a game against Venezuela to come.
Colombia are in much worse shape, and it’s remarkable how much difference one defeat can make. Prior to this competition they’d put together their own run of seven straight victories, and hopes were high coming into the tournament. Captain, Falcao, missed the World Cup with injury so must have been itching to get started, and he had been on target in the warm-up games during the build up. It was a strangely disjointed Colombia performance against Venezuela though, and they barely threatened the opposition goal. They will now come into this game with much more pressure and that could easily work against them.
With most bookies offering evens or better about a Brazil win, it’s a price worth taking under the circumstances. If Neymar and Co. get their noses in front it will be very difficult for Colombia to find a way back into the game.
Copa America group matches, Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th June
Brazil – +110 with Betvictor
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