SOUTH AMERICA: Copa América
Time: 8:00 PM
Venue: Estadio Olimpico Pedro Ludovico (Goiânia)
Argentina round off the Copa América (CA) quarter-final fixtures with their seventh consecutive participation in a continental knockout stage. In fact, ‘La Albiceleste’ have now qualified for 11 consecutive major tournament knockouts since infamously exiting the World Cup group stage in 2002, but superstar Lionel Messi remains on the hunt for his first-ever winner’s medal in a major international tournament.
However, Argentina should still head into this clash at Brasilia’s Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha with confidence, thanks to a 17-game unbeaten run (W10, D7). They have the skill to translate that confidence into a strong start too, especially after scoring within 15 minutes in their last three games.
Relevantly, Argentina scored the eventual winner in the 13th-minute in their last match-up with Ecuador. In turn, they added to a record which has seen them win 11 of the last 19 H2Hs, dating back to 1997 (W11, D5, L3).
It’s been 17 years since these two sides last met in this tournament, a result that saw Ecuador thrashed 6-1. They’ll still fight for every inch of turf here after progressing to only their second quarter-final in 24 years, and that’s despite failing to win a CA group game on this occasion.
Indeed, ‘La Tricolor’ are without a win since beating already-eliminated Bolivia in a March friendly (D3, L3). Ecuador also have just a solitary knockout-stage win to their name in major tournaments, which came on home soil back in 1993. Additionally, the rank outsiders have won just five of 36 previous H2H meetings (W5, D10, L21).
Players to watch: Lionel Messi marked his record-breaking 148th Argentina cap with two goals to take him to three for the tournament – a stage-high group. In contrast, Ecuador’s joint-record scorer Enner Valencia is yet to get off the mark at this year’s tournament, but two of his last four CA goals have proven decisive.
- Argentina’s form in last 5 matches: WWWDD.
- Ecuador’s form in last 5 matches: DDDLL.
PREDICTION: Home and Under 4.5