Two of the Copa America groups have already been decided with USA and Colombia qualifying for the quarter finals from group A, and Peru and Ecuador making it through from group B. There was huge controversy in the latter section as Peru scored with a clear handball to beat Brazil 1-0 and knock Dunga’s side out at the first hurdle. While the inquest into that failure goes on there are two more groups to be finalised with the likes of Argentina, Chile and Mexico ready to take their places in the last eight.
Uruguay have been another high-profile casualty in group C after defeats to Mexico and Venezuela, and those two are joint top with six points. Their fixture against each other on Monday night/Tuesday morning will decide who finishes top of the section, while Uruguay will try to salvage a little bit of pride by beating Jamaica. Argentina are practically guaranteed to finish top of group D after beating Chile 2-1 and thumping Panama 5-0, and they finish against bottom side Bolivia on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. The other group game sees Chile take on Panama with both locked together on three points, and it’s a winner-takes-all match with the victor set to go through to the quarters.
Mexico v Venezuela
Mexico are the first tip at -175 with Paddy Power when they take on Venezuela.
Both sides are already through but there’s a distinct advantage to finishing top as runners up in this section will almost certainly face Argentina in the next round. That should ensure a competitive game here but after a run of 10 straight international victories, Mexico are looking particularly strong.
They beat Uruguay in the opening game 3-1 with a couple of late goals, and followed that up with a comfortable 2-0 win over group minnows Jamaica next time out. Javier Hernandez, formerly of Manchester United, was on target in that game and it’s now 21 games since the Mexicans tasted defeat. They also have a good record against Venezuela, winning six of the last nine meetings. With Brazil and Uruguay already out they will fancy their chances of reaching the final this year, and it’s imperative that they avoid Argentina in the quarter finals if they are to do so.
Venezuela may have been something of a surprise package in this tournament – they’d only won 1 of 14 games leading up to the competition – but 1-0 wins over Uruguay and Jamaica have seen them through to the last eight. They will also be keen to avoid a match up with Messi and co. in the next round, but it remains to be seen if they can hold out against the attacking prowess of Mexico.
Chile v Panama
Argentina have run away with the group, as expected, and after beating Chile 2-1 in the opening match without the services of Messi, they went on to thrash Panama 5-0. The little wizard came on as a substitute to score a second half hat-trick in that game, and Panama were exposed. They beat group whipping boys Bolivia 2-1 to earn the three points they currently have, and that puts them level with Chile who also beat Bolivia by the same scoreline.
It’s been a mixed bag for Chile since winning the Copa America on home soil last year, and that victory against Bolivia brought to an end a run of three straight defeats. That should have inspired confidence among Alexis Sanchez and co. and man-for-man they are better than Panama. With both teams on three points this is a straight fight for second place behind Argentina and Chile are fancied to make their quality count when it matters.
Argentina v Bolivia
Having won both games so far and racked up an impressive goal difference, Argentina are almost certain to win the group. That may mean the coach is tempted to rest some players for this one, but such is their strength in depth they should still be far too good for the Bolivians. Neither Aguero or Messi started the first two fixtures in this year’s Copa America (although both came on to score against Panama), and in Banega, Higuain and Di Maria they have an embarrassment of riches going forward.
Bolivia have done well to get on the scoresheet in their first two games against Panama and Chile, despite losing both 2-1, but this Argentina side are a class above and chances will be few and far between. Adding in the fact that they now can’t qualify it may be more a case of damage limitation on Tuesday night.
Mexico to beat Venezuela
Tuesday 14th June, 01:00 GMT
Chile to beat Panama
Wednesday 15th June, 01:00 GMT
Argentina to beat Bolivia to Nil
Wednesday 15th June, 03:00 GMT