Copa America 2011: 4 Reasons Why Argentina Will and Will Not Beat Uruguay
It's arguably the greatest and certainly the oldest rivalry in International Football. The first match between Argentina and Uruguay dates back to 1889 and this will be the 183th time the two countries face each other in a football match, including a World Cup final in 1930 won by Uruguay. So far, Argentina have 83 wins and Uruguay 58. In the Copa America head-to-head, both nations have 13 wins against each other and three draws.
Both these nations have won two World Cups and are joint holders of the record for most Copa America trophies (14 each). Tomorrow, these old rivals will once again battle, with the winner getting one step closer to becoming the sole holder of the Copa America wins record.
Argentina haven't won any major competition since 1993, and playing at home they're eager to put an end to that, but first they need to get past a formidable Uruguay side. This article presents four reasons why they can do it, and four reasons why they can't.
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Why Argentina Will Beat Uruguay
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First, let's take a look at Argentina's advantages in this matchup with their old rivals...
1. More Quality from Top to Bottom
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While Uruguay do have some great players of their own, it's very hard to find another nation with the wealth of talent Argentina currently possess (maybe Spain?). Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Mascherano, Javier Zanetti, etc., are all proven world-class players.
While Argentina clearly haven't been spectacular as a team, they have so many potential match winners in their ranks that one moment of individual brilliance can decide the match in their favor. If individual matchups decided the outcome, there would be no doubt Argentina would emerge victorious, but, of course, it's not that easy...
Having such an abundance of talent isn't enough to win matches and tournaments, but it certainly helps.
2. Lionel Messi
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Argentina are lucky enough to have the world's greatest player in their ranks to unlock difficult games. That's exactly what he did in the Copa America 2007 with a superb goal against Mexico, and what he does very often with Barcelona. One only needs to remember his fabulous goal against Brazil in a friendly last November, in the last minute of a game that seemed destined to end in a draw.
If they are in trouble, Argentina can still rely on the mercurial talents of Lionel Messi. Obviously, having the world's best player isn't enough to win, but mercurial talents are known to save their teams when the going gets tough. After all, it was one of these mercurial talents, Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to their last World Cup win.
3. Home Advantage
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In eight Copa Americas played in Argentinian soil, Argentina won six. In the other two, they were eliminated by...Uruguay on both occasions.
Still, it's undeniable that playing in front of their crowd is an advantage for Argentina here. The crowd will basically be fully behind Argentina, creating a hostile environment for Uruguay. The last time these two sides faced in Argentina, in the World Cup 2008 qualifiers, Messi and Aguero scored in a 2-1 Argentina victory.
That said, in the last Copa America played in Argentina (1987), not only did Uruguay eliminate Argentina, but they went all the way to win the trophy, which they will be eager to repeat this time around.
4. They've Been Proving to Be Almost Impossible to Beat
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While Argentina have been far from impressive in recent years, they've shown to be pretty hard to beat. Under Batista, they only lost when they fielded a weakened, U-23 side in a friendly against Nigeria. Other than that, they managed to beat the likes of Spain and Portugal, and they're still unbeaten in the Copa America despite the overall poor level shown in the group stages. Both Bolivia and Colombia had more than enough chances to beat Argentina, yet both failed.
Uruguay is a different beast, but Argentina won't be beaten easily. Even when they are not at their best, they usually manage to avoid defeat. At least it has been that way under Sergio Batista.
Why Argentina Will Lose to Uruguay
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Now let's look at why Uruguay have the edge in this match...
1. The Poor Form Shown by Argentina in the Group Stages
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Argentina were very disappointing in the group stages, and only managed to secure their berth in the quarterfinals in the last day with a win over Costa Rica. Four goals in three matches is hardly an impressive tally for such a talented attacking side. The team looked disorganized and devoid of any ideas, with the star players trying to solve the problems on their own.
If they can't step it a notch, they have very little chance of beating a very strong Uruguay side.
2. Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan vs. the Argentinian Defense
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Uruguay's attack against Argentina's defense is a huge mismatch, clearly favoring the Uruguayans. Edinson Cavani, Diego Forlán and Luis Suarez are all top quality forwards who can rip apart any defense. Argentina might have enough uber-talented midfielders and attackers to make several different teams, but the same can't be said about their defense.
Gabriel Milito can't even get a game with Barcelona anymore; he's way too slow and error prone. Burdisso and Rojo aren't exactly world beaters either. You can expect Cavani and Suarez to try and expose Milito and Burdisso's lack of pace. It will be very hard for Argentina to contain Uruguay's forward line. They will need to control possession in order to minimize the threat.
Uruguay's defense, on the other hand, seems far better equipped to deal with the Argentine attackers: Alvaro Pereira, Maxi Pereira, Diego Lugano and Diego Godin are all solid and reliable defenders.
3. Argentina Are Under Huge Pressure from All Corners
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The pressure over Argentina has become almost unbearable lately. Despite advancing to the knockout stages, the team hasn't convinced the fans. In fact, they've been booed by their own countrymen. The pressure to deliver is higher than ever.
And what can you say about Lionel Messi? The world's best player is under even more pressure than his teammates; criticism have come from everywhere, Messi has unfairly been made scapegoat for the team's poor performances and he knows that he will be under further scrutiny if Argentina are sent packing tomorrow.
All this pressure over Argentina clearly favors their rivals. The Argentine players are fully aware that they have absolutely no room for mistakes—they carry the hopes of an entire nation on their shoulders.
4. Uruguay Have Shown That They're Better as a Team
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This is Uruguay's biggest advantage. Argentina have great players—certainly a lot more talent in their ranks than Uruguay, but the latter clearly look like the better team. That was apparent in the 2010 World Cup and again so far in the Copa America.
While Argentina's overall talent evens the odds in this match, Uruguay are a real team, one of the very best national teams in the world right now and they are sure to pose a very strong test to this Argentinian side—it wouldn't be a surprise at all if they emerged victorious and advanced to the semis.
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Tomorrow night, the battle of the Río de la Plata will have its 183th edition, with both teams looking to reach the Copa America semifinals. While Argentina are the more talented side and play at home, Uruguay have shown on several occasions that they're a great team, and they have some great players of their own as well. The winner of this one is anybody's guess.
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