The most glamorous of the four Copa America quarter-final ties will see Argentina take on Colombia in Vina del Mar on Friday.
It’s an encounter that will pit two of the most encapsulating attacking teams in the game against each other, but neither side have been at their most fluid in the three games played so far. Neutrals around the world will be hoping the incentive of a semi-final spot will spark these two illustrious teams into life.
Bleacher Report’s Tim Vickery has been discussing the fortunes of both Argentina and Colombia here:
Either way, the third of these four quarter-final encounters is not one to be missed. Here are all the key viewing details ahead of this game, including information on where to catch the match via a live stream:
Date: Friday, June 26
Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET), 12:30 a.m. (BST, June 27)
Live Stream: beIN Sports Connect (U.S.)
Colombia and Argentina Searching for a Spark
Had this fixture been one of the group-stages matches, there would have been football fans across the globe desperate to tune into a battle between two of the best offensive international teams around. But the performances of Argentina and Colombia at this tournament so far have taken some of the gloss of what should be a standout tie.
The latter, in particular, have struggled to hook things up going forward. The effervescent displays that lit up the World Cup seem a long way off for Colombia, with James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado looking a little lost in the XI.
David Cartlidge of beIN Sports thinks a change in centre-forward would be a starting point for this team:
That’s because Radamel Falcao has turned in some ponderous displays at the point of the attack. There have been myriad occasions at this Copa when either James or Cuadrado have had the ball at their feet, only to look up and see a static target. But as the captain of the side, it’d be a bold decision on the part of Jose Pekerman to discard El Tigre.
However, as we can see here courtesy of WhoScored.com, Falcao’s form has been rank in the three games played so far:
Argentina are having their own systematic problems too. Although Tata Martino’s side qualified top of their group, they weren’t overly convinced in any of their matches, drawing with Paraguay before notching a pair of underwhelming 1-0 wins against a Luis Suarez-less Uruguay and minnows Jamaica.
As noted by Miguel Delaney of ESPN, the Albiceleste have a treacherous run to the final, so it’s imperative we begin to see some improvement from them:
One player Martino will look to to spark this team into life is Lionel Messi. The Barcelona man has shown his immense quality in bursts at this Copa so far, but with the Albiceleste boss looking to shoehorn Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero into this Argentina team alongside their skipper, Messi has yet to catch fire.
Sadly for the Barcelona man it’s been a familiar scenario in national-team colours, as noted here by football journalist Rafael Hernandez:
While it’s easy to pour scorn on some toiling attackers, it also must be said that the defensive work of each team has been impressive so far. Nicolas Otamendi and Pablo Zabaleta have been rock solid at the back for Argentina, while Colombia have only conceded one goal in their opening three games.
The main man at the back for Los Cafeteros has been Jeison Murillo, turning in a string of commanding displays and blasting home the winning goal against Brazil in the group stages. As noted here by bet365, the centre-back has been one of the best players at the Copa up to now:
In an ideal world, both of these teams would rekindle their attacking sparkle in this quarter-final and we’d be treated to a feast of intricate and incisive football. But the struggles of each and the magnitude of what's at stake sadly points towards a tepid and nervy encounter.
It’s the type of game that Argentina have become increasingly capable of winning and given the amount of game-changers within their ranks, expect Martino’s men to edge into the quarter-finals in what will be an abrasive affair.
Prediction: Argentina 1-0 Colombia