Author Archives: Timothy Masters

Argentina v Paraguay Preview

Even before Brazil went crashing out of the Copa America like a drunken uncle playing musical chairs, they knew that Neymar would not feature regardless of how far they went. Instead of Comobia, Uruguay or one of the other big teams, Argentina will face Paraguay tonight, formerly managed by Gerardo Martino, the current Argentine boss, and it will be interesting to see how he sets up versus his old team.

There have been rumblings of dissent from the dressing room over the actual ability of Martino to manage the team, according to some reports at least, and that is interesting when you consider that Messi allegedly recommended Martino before Barcelona hired him. It will need all eleven players to be on the same page if little Leo and his mates are to progress along the route most of us expect, as Paraguay will be committed and believe they have what it takes to cause a shock.

The bookies all have Argentina as strong favourites now, with only really Chile expected to stand in their way. That is not to devalue or degrade Paraguay, but they will know they are underdogs tonight, and most likely revel in the chance to prove the entire footballing world wrong.

Our Predictions

Argentina – Argentina @ 11/10
Sergio Aguero to score anytime @ 13/10

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Chile v Peru Preview

The final four in the Copa America looks about half right, if truth be told, but for Peru and Chile the equation remains pretty much as it has been since Brazil cocked up the seeding, with Argentina the final boss. If the home side get through the penultimate level and face Messi and so we will be in for an ugly, beautiful battle, and the ugliness will probably only be exacerbated if Peru come through instead.

There is no doubt the home side will be favourites, although the neutral may haved mixed feeling after the peculiar and loathsome antics of Gonzalo Jara versus Uruguay, and Cavani. They also have the better team on paper with Alexis Sanchez, Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal, and must feel fate is on their side after the latter escaped his drink-driving incident unharmed and unpunished.

The extra day of rest that these two enjoy over Argentina and Uruguay will only go so far, and if they can’t get this one over and done with in ninety minutes that advantage will be reduced further still. If what you want from your football is passion, desire and pride in a jersey though, this is going to be one of the greatest ever displays of patriotic sporting excellence, or possibly patriotic cheating. Either way it’ll be ace.

Our Predictions

Chile – Chile @ 11/10
Arturo Vidal to score first @ 11/2

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Brazil v Paraguay Preview

After Chile and Uruguay brought the drama, the Copa America organisers will be honestly hoping for some more football-orientated headlines on Sunday morning to potentially ease the pressure a bit. Brazil have already got a fair amount of their crazy out of the system, which means we won’t see Neymar’s hair or football, and in the latter stages of this competition there is an interesting dynamic in the green and gold squad.

When their star was crippled in the World Cup, Brazil collapsed faster than a Greek Ponzi scheme at the hands of Germany, and following that awful day the rest of the team were roundly dismissed as useless without the kid. Against Paraguay and then possibly Argentina, the other 22 will have a chance to redeem their reputations and make it to the final of a major competition, and who knows, they might even win it for their absent friend.

New Liverpool signing Roberto Firmino has the press in England very excited indeed, and how he gets on along with the likes of Coutinho and Douglas Costa will be interesting to observe. As is so often the case, Paraguay are something of the second fiddles, but as always they will give everything they have for their nation, and leave nothing to doubt as they attempt to get an improbable win.

Our Predictions

Brazil – Brazil @ 8/5
Roberto Firmino to score anytime @ 13/8

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Argentina v Colombia Preview

Of all the quarter finals, the meeting of Argentina and Colombia looks like being the best on paper, with star names and no suspensions or off-pitch messes to worry about either, and the crowds will be keen to see how this unfolds. James Rodriguez and Lionel Messi are obviously the biggest names, but these are two great teams, with Colombia already having shown their teeth by defeating Brazil.

The little guy from Rosario, via Barcelona, is definitely in form right now, and if Argentina win this competition on the back of Messi winning the Spanish league, Champions League and Spanish Cup then it will be hard for anyone to dispute his place as the greatest of all time. This might not be a World Cup, but it means just as much to the South American teams and Messi is no different from his team mates in that respect.

The 1-0 win over Jamaica in the group stages did make the Argentine fans a bit nervous as they had obviously expected a more dominant performance, and tonight we’ll need to see more of the men in light-blue-and-white for them to progress. After Chile, there is an argument Colombia are the best-equipped team to challenge the big two, and tonight is their night if ever that is to happen.

Our Predictions

Home Win @ 10/11
Argentina – Argentina @ 15/8

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Peru v Bolivia Preview

Without meaning to sound in the least bit judgemental, the first quarter-final of the Copa America was something of a farce and featured some extremely unedifying behaviour by the home, Chilean team. There was also a horrific slow-motion replay of Arturo Vidal’s knee doing things it shouldn’t and even a bit of football, but when the dust had settled it was Chile who had booked a place in the semis, to face the winner of Bolivia and Peru.

Of the eight sides left in the competition when the quarter finals were drawn, these would probably have seemed like the least likely to make the final to the casual fan, with the smallest number of big stars from the major leagues, but Chile are beatable for sure. Tonight will be about who can handle the pressure better of the two, and which side takes the chances that will surely fall their way, and then they are one good game from a final and a 50/50 shot at making history.

Peru are strong favourites to come through at the expense of the Bolivians and their travelling fans, but men like Vargas and Pizarro still being in the squad speaks somewhat of a dearth of new talent in the Peruvian setup as a whole. On the other hand, only one of the Bolivian squad plies their trade in the top European leagues, and that is a youngster from the Milan academy, so both managers will need to deploy their resources intelligently this evening.

Our Predictions

Draw 1-1 @ 11/2
Marcelo Martins to score anytime @ 10/3

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Chile v Uruguay Preview

Uruguay aren’t quite crippled yet, but their best player is still suspended for an eating disorder involving Italian food and their other top striker is in some turmoil due to his old man being involved in a car accident. This evening they face the hosts Chile, who’ve had their own automotive issues in the last couple of weeks through Arturo Vidal, and this game could well be an extremely tight contest between two well-matched teams.

Chile are well-fancied in this competition, now second-favourites behind Argentina due to Neymar’s tantrum and the Colombia win over Brazil that it followed, and if they can claim a victory it will leave them one match from a home final in the Copa America. What’s more, they’d face the winner of Bolivia and Peru in the next stage, and that is a match-up most football fans would back the likes of Alexis, Vidal and the rest to come through.

It is not yet certain if Cavani will play tonight or if he’s unavailable due to the off-field death caused by his dad, but Vidal’s drunk-driving won’t make any difference as Chilean patriotism got the better of old-fashioned legality. With the environmental emergency also seeing Santiago covered in smog this match will be a bit odd all-around, but as we said at the top, it should be a cracking contest and the prize on the line is a probable Copa America final, which is massive for this pair.

Our Predictions

Draw @ 13/5
Arturo Vidal to score anytime @ 12/5

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Brazil v Colombia Preview

If Argentina and Uruguay didn’t float your boat then this match should do the trick, with star quality in both teams and ridiculous hair to match. Neymar and James Rodriguez are the golden geese out to prove they can do it alone tonight, or at least without their respective gang of millionaire mates, and for many people these are two of the likely top three teams when it comes to the final reckoning, along with the aforementioned Argentinians.

Converting talent into a win isn’t easy, and for Brazil the challenge for this generation has always been taking the ridiculous ability they have in the middle of the pitch and finding a striker to turn it into goals. Whether the current squad is the right blend remains to be seen, but a win tonight is necessary if they want to progress as group leaders, and they’ll need to score to do that.

Radamel Falcao and Jackson Martinez would be more than welcome in the Brazil squad, but tonight they’ll be keeping the golden back four busy instead as they look to convert whatever the likes of Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado can provide into goals for their team. There are a few, those two included, with a point to prove in the Colombian squad, so expect a good game and a close contest.

Our Predictions

Brazil @ 21/20
Neymar to score anytime @ 5/4

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Argentina v Uruguay Preview

This is arguably the best match of the group stages, and even with Luis Suarez banned and chomping at the bit back in Barcelona, albeit consoled by three massive trophies, Uruguay are still an outside contender for a spot in the final at least. Edinson Cavani’s comical comments about Jamaica aside, their preparation has been decent for this competition, and tonight will be their first major test of strength against the tournament favourites.

Lionel Messi is far from the only good player in the Argentina squad, but he is certainly not surrounded by the same wealth of talent he enjoys back in Spain. Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero will be key lieutenants for the little magician and it is up to current manager Gerardo Martino, formerly Messi’s boss in Barcelona, to get the best out of what he has and convert that into a Copa America win for his home nation.

Some people have suggested that if Messi were to round off his treble with Barcelona by winning a major international tournament it would end the debate about his place in the all-time pantheon of greats, but that will only last until the next World Cup really. Tonight is more about trying to eke out another game of magic after another long season, while Uruguay will look to exploit that pressure and sting the team fancied by the bookies to win the whole shebang.

Our Predictions

Angel Di Maria to score anytime @ 12/5
Argentina/Argentina @ 29/20

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Chile v Mexico Preview

In theory Mexico should be in a great position to challenge the South American giants and cause an upset in the Copa America, which would make them poor guests and national heroes, but the squad selected is strangely light on top players. Only Raul Jimenez and Javier Aquino of the European-based Mexicans made it into the final 23, and that could make them sitting ducks for teams they’d usually beat.

In contrast, Chile have selected the strongest possible squad and can boast both a Champions League finalist and an FA Cup winner in Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez. There is more to the squad than just those two of course, but the addition of world-class winners to a team like Chile can make all the difference and they’ll fancy a win over Mexico in what is their second match in this competition.

The home fans are bound to make this a cracking occasion, and coping with the atmosphere will be part of the challenge for the proud and patriotic Chileans looking to maybe win the competition in front of their adoring countrymen. Mexico are still a strong side, but tonight will be a challenge for the guests in foreign land, and their hosts are likely to be anything but hospitable for the course of the 90 minutes.

Our Predictions

Alexis Sanchez to score anytime @ 6/5
Over 2.5 total goals @ 1/1

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Brazil v Peru Preview

The Copa America kicked off with the hosts and Ecuador, and tonight we get our first look at Brazil and Peru, although most people will have their attention on the former. Neymar has had an incredible season with Barcelona and will want to come back to South America and prove he can do it on the international stage, without his mates Leo and Luis backing him up.

This is a game Brazil will probably expect to win, and with Colombia and Venezuela ahead it’s clear which of the three is going to be the biggest test for the men in gold. That will give Peru a chance, though, as the more illustrious names may come into this game not at full throttle and saving themselves for James Rodriguez and co., so it remains to be seen whether Brazil will convert on their superior quality on paper.

Phillippe Coutinho and Willian make up the ‘English’ interest in this game, but in truth we never need an excuse to watch Brazil in action. The main issue for them continues to be in attack though, where there are only three forwards named including Neymar and Robinho, formerly of Manchester City, alongside Shandong Luneng forward Diego Tardelli, fresh from the Chinese Super League.

Our Predictions

Neymar to score 2 or more goals @ 5/2
Over 3.5 total goals @ 13/10

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