Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 23rd 2015 Contents SANTIAGO---Lionel Messi and James
Rodriguez are about to meet again. They ve
left their clubs behind---Barcelona and Real
Madrid---and this time Messi is wearing
Argentina s blue and white and Rodriguez
the red, blue and yellow of Colombia.
Of the four quarterfinals this week in the
Copa America, Argentina vs Colombia on
Friday is the most compelling. Argentina has
won this title 14 times and, with Messi, Gon-
zalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero,
has the most talented attack in the game.
Colombia has won this title only once.
But it s probably South America s fastest
rising power, has an Argentine coach in Jose
Pekerman and its own set of talented scorers
including Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and
In other quarterfinals it s Chile vs Uruguay
on Wednesday, Bolivia vs Peru on Thursday
and Brazil vs Paraguay on Saturday.
The South American championship is a
mini-World Cup. Five of the quarterfinalists
reached the last 16 in Brazil s World Cup.
Three reached the quarterfinals and Argentina
was the losing finalist against Germany.
Here s a quick look at the matchups:
ARGENTINA vs COLOMBIA
Neither Argentina nor Colombia has put
it together in group play. Argentina blew a
two-goal lead, drawing 2-2 with Paraguay.
It has 1-0 victories against Jamaica and
Uruguay, and was fortunate after Uruguay
dominated the late play.
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino knows
many players are spent from long European
seasons. The Champions League final
between Barcelona and Juventus---with Messi
on one side and Tevez on the other---
was played just five days before the Copa
"The failure to score and secure the out-
come, it obviously beginning to generate
some uneasiness," Martino said.
Colombia barely advanced, although it
did beat Brazil 1-0 for its only group vic-
"When you play poorly, you pay" said
Rodriguez, who goes almost exclusively by
Tuesday, June 23, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
his given name James, which he pronounces using
CHILE vs URUGUAY
Host Chile is the sentimental favourite, and has
been the most entertaining as it seeks its first Copa
title. Chile has scored 10 goals, twice as many as
anyone else. The only blot is star midfielder Arturo
Vidal, who wrecked his red Ferrari while driving drunk
last week. He got a four-month driving ban, but coach
Jorge Sampaoli---another Argentine---kept him on the
Defending champion Uruguay has not been the
same without Luis Suarez, who is banned from the
tournament for biting Italian Giorgio Chiellini at the
World Cup. This leaves the attack to Edinson Cavani,
who has been largely ineffective in the three group
BRAZIL vs PARAGUAY
Brazil is without Barcelona star Neymar, who was
banned for the rest of the tournament after losing
his temper after a 1-0 loss to Colombia. He kicked
the ball at a Colombian player, appeared to try head-
butting another and then accosted the referee, grabbing
his arms and swearing at him. Brazil decided Monday
not to appeal the four-match ban.
Brazil defeated Venezuela 2-1 on Sunday and played
better than it had with Neymar, using Robinho and
Philippe Coutinho in attack.
Brazil coach Dunga is bracing for Paraguay.
"It will be like a final," Dunga warned.
Paraguay was the losing finalist four years ago
against Uruguay and has improved under Argentine
coach Ramon Diaz, another Argentine.
"It s an important team, and we ve shown that
right from the first match," said Argentina-born Lucas
Barrios. "We are stronger than ever."
These are the two big outsiders. But the winner
will make the semifinals against Chile or Uruguay in
the weaker half of the draw. This bodes well for Chile,
which has already beaten Bolivia 5-0. Peru has been
better than expected, losing 2-1 to Brazil, drawing
Colombia 0-0 and beating Venezuela 1-0.
Most executives of CONMEBOL, the governing
body of South American soccer, have been keeping
a low profile at the tournament. Several, including
CONMEBOL president Juan Angel Napout, have
stayed away so far, fallout from the Fifa corruption
Venezuelan soccer head Rafael Esquivel remains in
jail in Switzerland with six other Fifa officials, including
two vice presidents. Former Brazilian soccer head Jose
Maria Marin is also among those in jail in Switzerland
awaiting extradition to the United States.
Messi versus James again
...now in Copa America quarterfinals
Rodriguez runs with
the ball to take a
corner kick during a
Copa America Group
C soccer match
against Peru at the
Becker stadium in
Sunday AP PHOTO
session in La
in the next
round of the
on Friday. AP
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