Argentina and Colombia clash in what is the most anticipated quarter-final of the lot. La Albiceleste have had the better of the Colombians in previous encounters, winning 7 and drawing three of the 12 encounters between the sides. However, this is probably the best Colombian team the Argentines would have faced and after deservedly beating Brazil in the group stages, proved they could go all the way in this Copa America.
An early goal from Gonzalo Higuain was enough to give Argentina a 1-0 victory over Jamaica and secure their place in the quarter-finals as winners of Group B. The Argentines looked set for a goal-fest but despite their dominance in possession could not add to their tally in what was Messi’s 100th appearance for his country. La Albiceleste started the tournament badly, drawing 2-2 with Paraguay but bounced back well to beat Uruguay 1-0 in their second group game. Any side capable of boasting a frontline consisting of Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Higuain, and Carlos Tevez will be consistently competitive in the latter stages of any international football tournament. However, Argentina are without major trophy since 1993 and Messi has stated how desperate he is to help his team win this Copa America. “I would give everything [to win the Copa America]” Messi said. “This group deserves it for their fighting mentality. We had a great World Cup and we deserve it. I would love it. Winning the Copa America would give us some peace of mind for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Not only for my teammates, for the coach and for me, but for the country, too. The fans also want us to win.” Argentina are yet to hit top gear in the tournament and they will need to improve in both attack and defence to overcome this dangerous Colombian outfit. Aguero should return to the starting line-up ahead of Higuain as the Manchester City striker looks to continue his impressive golascoring form after netting in both of Argentina’s first two games.
Colombia were left sweating over their Copa hopes after a lacklustre 0-0 draw with Peru on Sunday. It was not until Brazil later defeated Venezuela 2-1 that Jose Pekerman’s team qualified for the next round as one of the two best third-placed teams. While Los Cafeteros have been far from convincing in the tournament, losing against Venezuela and drawing against Peru, the fact that they beat Brazil 1-0 in their second game and that this squad also proved their quality by going as far as the last-eight at last year’s World Cup makes them a daunting opponent for the Argentines. Furthermore, Pekerman’s frontline of Radamel Falcao, Jackson Martinez, Carlos Bacca and James Rodriguez comes closer than any other team to rivalling that of the Argentina’s star studded attack. Bacca will return to the matchday squad after serving his one match suspension for pushing Neymar.
Romero; Zabaleta, Garay, Demichelis, Rojo; Pastore, Mascherano, Biglia; Messi, Di Maria, Higuain
Ospina; Arias Zapata, Murillo, Armero; Sanchez, Valencia; Cuadrado, James; Gutierrez, Falcao
Both these sides have not performed to their fullest potential in the tournament. However, after Argentina drew their opening match against Paraguay they showed improvement to oust both Uruguay and Jamaica. Colombia have one good win against Brazil to their name and that performance was not replicated in any of their other matches. It’s difficult seeing Colombia beating both Brazil and Argentina when they could not beat the likes of Venezuela and Peru. Back Argentina to rise to the occasion and claim a semi-final spot with a win over an inconsistent Colombia.