Even Brazil’s Neymar says he wants Lionel Messi and Argentina in the final.
The Copa America championship game that everyone wants to see on Saturday, July 10 between Brazil and Argentina is just one game away from becoming a reality. Brazil did its part by beating Peru in the semis. Now only No. 15-ranked Colombia stands in the way of Argentina, No. 8 in the world.
Don’t think Los Cafeteros don’t hear all the talk. They’ll be out to spoil the party when they take on Messi & Co. on Tuesday at the Estadio Mané Garrincha in Brasilia. And they have the resume to pull off the upset.
Colombia beat Argentina, 2-0, in the group stage of the last Copa America in 2019. And the Colombians came from 2-0 down to tie Argentina in a World Cup qualifier in June. Head coach Reinaldo Rueda has instilled belief and a quiet confidence in a team full of accomplished pros, many of whom also play in Europe’s top leagues, and who will not be intimidated by the occasion or by Argentina.
Rueda opts for a defense-first approach. So it’s no surprise that goals have been a challenge for Colombia, which is missing the creativity of Everton star James Rodriguez, who did not make the final squad. Meanwhile, Argentina will counter with a multitude of attacking riches led by Messi, who has had a productive Copa America with four goals and four assists.
But what Messi (below) wants more than anything is to win the Copa America and claim his first piece of silverware with Argentina’s senior men’s team. If the Argentines can advance, it would be a third Copa America final in six years against their arch nemesis Brazil … in Brazil. A first trophy against that backdrop would go down as one of Messi’s greatest career accomplishments.
How to watch Argentina vs. Colombia in USA
- Date: Tues, July 6
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FS1
- Spanish-language TV: Univision, TUDN
- Streaming: fuboTV, TUDN.tv
FS1 will carry the Argentina-Colombia semifinal in English, with Univision and TUDN providing Spanish-language coverage. Both networks are available to stream on fuboTV (free 7-day trial).
Colombia is trying to make its first Copa America final since 2001, the same year it won its only continental title. Since that Colombia triumph, Argentina has made it to the Copa America final in four of the six editions, losing each one. Its last trophy hoist dates back to 1993.
Argentina vs. Colombia projected lineups
Although he admits he has some tired players carrying knocks, Argentine head coach Lionel Scaloni revealed that the team that will play Colombia won’t look much different from the one that beat Ecuador 3-0 in the quarterfinals.
The only real question is whether Guido Rodriguez will start over Leandro Paredes in central midfield. It’s already confirmed that center back Cristian “Cuti” Romero will again miss out due to injury, with German Pezzella holding down his spot. If they’re looking for an attacking spark, Papu Gomez and Angel Di Maria will be available off the bench.
Colombia gets a boost with the return of their best player, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, who is back after serving a one-game suspension. The big lineup decision for Los Cafeteros is about who plays at forward. With just two goals in the run of play over five matches, more production is expected from what is a talented front line.
Rueda will likely opt for the Duvan Zapata-Luis Muriel duo, which features for Italian club Atalanta. Or he could introduce Rafael Santos Borre, who officially moved to German side Eintracht Frankfurt on Monday. The hard-working Miguel Borja, who currently plies his trade in the Colombian league, is another option, though he might be preferred off the bench.
Argentina (4-3-3, left to right): Emiliano Martínez-GK — Marcos Acuna, Nicolas Otamendi, German Pezzella, Nahuel Molina — Giovani Lo Celso, Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul — Nicolas Gonzalez, Lautaro Martínez, Lionel Messi
Colombia (4-4-2, left to right): David Ospina-GK — William Tesillo, Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina, Daniel Munoz — Luis Diaz, Gustavo Cuellar, Wilmar Barrios, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado — Duvan Zapata, Luis Muriel
Argentina vs. Colombia: Odds & prediction
So what kind of semifinal can we expect? Colombia has already said that it will seek to play an orderly game, control the pace of play and make the fewest errors possible. Translation: Colombia will play in a cautious, defensive stance, frustrate the Argentines and then hope to score on a breakaway or a set piece.
Argentina is a high-pressing team with players that will fight for every ball and go into every challenge. The Argentines will try to cause turnovers and win the ball as high up the field as possible. And once they do, they will go vertical, straight at goal, and at speed. And in Messi and forward Lautaro Martinez, they have the players to execute that plan. They’re also dangerous on set pieces.
It’s an identity that has made Argentina hard to beat — they are undefeated in 18 matches (11-0-7) since a loss in the 2019 Copa America semifinal against Brazil — but it also means the Argentines are not blowing teams away, and the quarterfinal against Ecuador was a lot closer than the final score (3-0) would have you believe.
Expect this elimination match to be a grind: Argentina trying to chip and claw its way through the Colombian low block, or attempting to draw the Colombians out of their stance. And grinds are typically slower, low-scoring affairs unless an early goal somehow opens things up. All five of Colombia’s matches have been one-goal games or 0-0 draws.
Low goal totals, tight margins of victory and Argentina is the way to play this one. Argentina has the difference-maker in Messi. And the script that played out for Neymar and Brazil against Peru — Neymar’s magic set up Brazil’s decisive goal in a 1-0 win — will likely play out here, too.
Prediction: Argentina 1, Colombia 0
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
- Argentina to win (90 mins): -120
- Argentina to advance: -265
- Draw (90 mins): +230
- Colombia to win (90 mins): +390
- Colombia to advance: +210
- Argentina to score first and win the match: -103
- Argentina -0.75 Asian Handicap: +107
- Argentina to score from a penalty: +500
- Under 1.5 total goals: +170
- Colombia Under 0.5 goals scored: +108