Copa America: Semi Final


Too good a picture to pass up…

Argentina V Mexico (KO. 1.50am)

The second semi final takes place this evening and pits bookies favourites, Argentina against Mexico. Never one to gloat, thefc100 would just like to point out that we predicted these exact semi final pairings before the tournament and if Argentina win this evening then we will be on a roll (we also predicted Brazil to win outright and seeing as they are not favourites they could be worth a flutter NOTE: thefc100 in no way, shape or form endorses gambling or supports any gambling related enterprises. We just fancy it from time to time). Argentina will be expected by most to follow Brazil’s example from last night and progress to the final. This, however, will not be as easy as it sounds.

Argentina are in top form coming into tonights game as they have been for most of the competition. A 4-0 victory over Peru in the Quarters has brought them to touching distance of the final. Many have tipped Tevez, who turned the game against Peru on its head, to start after coming off the bench for most of the campaign but it may prove that he will have to wait until the final for his chance. It seems that Basile will prefer the pairing of Messi and Milito and hope to use Tevez as an impact sub if needs be. The rest of the squad should retain a familiar feel with Cambiasso, Masherano, Veron and Riquelme holding the midfield and the usual back four of Heinze, Zanetti, Ayala and Gabriel Milito protecting Abbondanzierri’s goal. The attacking players have been instrumental in Argentina’s fortunes so far with more goals coming from Mascherano and Riquelme than all the strikers put together. They will need to put on a performance to trouble Mexico’s solid defence and to create openings for the ailing strikers. Basile recognises tonight’s contest as a difficult one but is confident in the ability of his squad. “Mexico have a good team. It will be a tough match for both of us. But we have extraordinary players. I’m proud of them and not just because they have been winning but because of the way they have been playing”.

Mexico are also not short of form coming into the game. A 6-0 dismantling of Paraguay has given them the confidence they will need to face a team of Argentina’s stature. Although if any team in the competition would not be in awe of another side then it’s probably Mexico. A contrasting style to that of their opponents, Mexico are solid at the back, compact in the middle and are able to strike devestating blows through players such as Castillo and Bravo without having the supposed flair of some individuals in the Argie ranks. Mexico will be strong on the counter-attack and this is what coach, Sanchez, hopes will give them success. Sanchez is unlikely to make any changes this evening and the familiarity of the side should help to remove any nerves in the tentative opening minutes. Much of Mexico’s defensive solidity has been throught the fine form of their captain and talisman, Barca man Rafael Marquez. Mecixo will need all his experience this evening as they look to shut out the top scorers of the tournament. Mexico are in defiant mood and Marquez has fired a warning shot to the argies in a press conference before today saying “Argentina are a great team with quality players and a lot of options but they are not unbeatable. Mexico can win and reach the final. We want the trophy badly.” Sounds like fighting talk and aside from the double negative, it seems as if Mexico could have a surprise in store for the favourites.

Tonight’s contest will be fierce and won’t be the goal-fest we have seen in previous rounds. It may prove that as defensively good as Mexico are, they may crack under sustained Argie pressure.

Prediction: Argentina 2 – 1 Mexico

Probable lineups:

Argentina: Roberto Abbondanzieri – Javier Zanetti, Roberto Ayala, Gabriel Milito, Gabriel Heinze – Juan Verón, Javier Mascherano, Esteban Cambiasso – Juan Román Riquelme – Lionel Messi and Diego Milito. 

Mexico: Oswaldo Sánchez – Israel Castro, Rafael Márquez, Jonny Magallón, Fausto Pinto – Fernando Arce, Gerardo Torrado, Jaime Correa, Andrés Guardado – Juan Carlos Cacho and Nery Castillo ou Omar Bravo.

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