The group stage of the 2011 Copa America has been completed after a slow start to proceedings, but it seems the big guns are only beginning to get warmed up.
Hosts Argentina struggled to two draws in their first two fixtures, before beating Costa Rica 3-0 in their final match to finish second in Group A, behind the impressive Colombia who had Radamel Falcao firing in goals.
Brazil topped Group B, but didn’t do it easy after also drawing their first two matches. However, Brazil’s 4-2 win over Ecuador sealed their passage through the next round, alongside Venezuela and Paraguay, who drew all three matches and only snuck through in third place on goal difference.
In Group C, World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay also drew their opening two games before winning their final group game to progress in second as Chile topped the group. Peru also got through as one of the two best third-place finishes, while an under-strength Mexico went home without a point.
The quarter-final match-ups are now;
July 16, Cordoba, Colombia v Peru
July 16, Sante Fe, Argentina v Uruguay
July 17, La Plata Brazil v Paraguay
July 17, San Juan Chile v Venezuela
Here we’ll analyse the remaining eight sides chances considering their performances so far and their respective draws ahead.
Colombia v Peru
Fifa Ranking 54
Results so far: Colombia 1 Costa Rica 0, Argentina 0 Colombia 0, Colombia 2 Bolivia 0
Topscorer so far: Radamel Falcao (2 goals)
Fifa Ranking 49
Results so far: Uruguay 1 Peru 1, Peru 1 Mexico 0, Chile 1 Peru 0
Topscorer so far: Jose Paolo Guerrero (2 goals)
The Colombians appear to have cruised through so far, playing within themselves but doing enough to top their group and get a favourable quarter-finals draw. Defensively they’ve been sound, with Mario Yepes and Carlos Sanchez holding the fort together, while in attack Fredy Guarin has been creative and Radamel Falcao dangerous. Peru, on the other hand, are a limited outfit who finished last in Conmebol qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. They’ll be relying on Juan Vargas down the left and Jose Paolo Guerrero up front. Colombia should be too good and could go far in this tournament.
Argentina v Uruguay
Fifa Ranking 10
Results so far: Argentina 1 Bolivia 1, Argentina 0 Colombia 0, Argentina 3 Costa Rica 0
Topscorer so far: Sergio Aguero (3)
Fifa Ranking: 18
Results so far: Uruguay 1 Peru 1, Uruguay 1 Chile 1, Uruguay 1 Mexico 0
Topscorer so far: Alvaro Pereira (2 goals)
This is an intriguing clash between the two South American rivals who got going in their final group matches. Lionel Messi turned it on for Argentina in their 3-0 thrashing of Costa Rica, while Uruguay didn’t really do such damage against Mexico although they should have scored more. Argentina’s change of players in their 4-3-3 in the final match may have shown the way forward, with Fernando Gago and Angel Di Maria providing natural link-up in midfield. That suits the dangerous Messi and Sergio Aguero who look ready to sparkle. Uruguay haven’t been fluent and may be in trouble here, particularly with Edinson Cavani injured.
Brazil v Paraguay
Fifa Ranking 5
Results so far: Brazil 0 Venezuela 0, Brazil 2 Paraguay 2, Brazil 4 Ecuador 2
Topscorer so far: Neymar & Alexandre Pato (2 goals)
Fifa Ranking 32
Results so far: Paraguay 0 Ecuador 0, Brazil 2 Paraguay 2, Paraguay 3 Venezuela 3
Topscorer so far: Antolin Alcaraz, Lucas Barrios, Nelson Haedo Valdez, Christian Riveros & Roque Santa Cruz (1 goal)
Brazil’s 4-2 win over Ecuador was a major result for Mano Menezes’ side who suddenly can feel confident about this tournament with the team’s two main men Neymar and Alexandre Pato firing. These two nations, of course, have already faced off at this Copa America, drawing 2-2 in the second matchday. Paraguay exposed Lucio’s lack of pace in that game and they’ll be hoping to do so the same again. Paraguay have been better than their results suggest and they may fancy this one.
Chile v Venezuela
Fifa Ranking: 27
Results so far: Chile 2 Mexico 1, Uruguay 1 Chile 1, Chile 1 Peru 0
Topscorer so far: Esteban Paredes, Alexis Sánchez & Arturo Vidal (1 goal)
Fifa Ranking: 69
Results so far: Brazil 0 Venezuela 0, Venezuela 1 Ecuador 0, Paraguay 3 Venezuela 3
Topscorer so far: Nicolás Fedor, César González, Grenddy Perozo & Salomón Rondón (1 goal)
Chile have enjoyed huge support in Argentina so far and the team has been delivering with some good results during the group stage hinting they can progress far. Their style of football is attractive and highly-rated forward Alexis Sanchez has been impressing. Venezuela, though, are unbeaten so far and appear an emerging force, with solidity in defence combined with some quality in attack. Juan Arango is no longer a lone ranger for Venezuela anymore, but Chile should still be stronger, although this isn’t an easy one to pick.