Two of the biggest rivals in international football will lock horns once again this week as Brazil face off against Argentina in the Copa América semi-finals. All things considered, it’s been decent tournament for the Seleção so far; in fact, it’s surprisingly the first time they’ve reached this stage of the Copa América since 2007. They probably would’ve preferred not to rely on penalties to see out Paraguay in the quarter-finals, but they did dominate the match and very much deserved the victory. Argentina, on the other hand, have had a relatively underwhelming Copa América. They won one, drew one and lost one in their group – hardly inspiring considering they were one of the favourites going in. They did, however, earn a solid win against Venezuela in the quarter-finals on Sunday, courtesy of goals from Lautaro Martínez and Giovani Lo Celso.
Brazil’s Filipe Luís, who was replaced at half-time in the Paraguay meeting, missed training on Saturday to undergo physiotherapy and is doubtful for Wednesday’s game. Richarlison, who missed the Paraguay game, is set to return to training after contracting mumps but is unlikely to start against Argentina. Fernandinho, who suffered an injury to his right knee while playing Venezuela, is also doubtful as he continues treatment. Argentina have no reports of any injuries and could field a full-strength squad. Brazil and Argentina have faced each other a total of 110 times throughout their history, with Brazil winning 45, Argentina winning 39 and 26 ending in a draw. Their most recent meeting was at the Superclásico de las Américas back in October 2018, when Brazil’s Miranda scored a last-minute goal to beat La Albiceleste 1-0 and lift the trophy. Out of their last five meetings, Argentina have won just once; when they beat Seleção 1-0 to win 2017’s edition of the Superclásico de las Américas. In contrast, Brazil have won three of their last five matches against Argentina. This doesn’t make good reading for Argentina, although they must keep in mind that most of the pressure lies on the shoulders of Brazil. The Verde-Amarela were booed in two of their group stage matches and know they’ll be in for a slaughtering if they fail to beat Argentina on home turf. Brazil’s unbeaten run stretches all the way back to that World Cup quarter-final loss to Belgium in July 2018. Out of the 14 fixtures they’ve played since then, they’ve won an astounding 11. Although two of the three draws have come in their last five games; both of which were in the Copa América. Argentina have also won three out of their last five games, albeit they are not unbeaten thanks to that 2-0 loss against Colombia in their opening fixture of the competition. Here’s how each side has performed over their last five games. This is a tough one to call. Brazil performed well in the group stages but their 0-0 draw with Paraguay, however dominant they were, was a disappointment. On the other hand, Argentina, despite making it to the semis, have had a disappointing Copa, but it’s hard to look past the quality they have on the pitch. Expect this to be a close, exciting, affair, but Brazil, who have had the better performances and arguably have the better overall squad, should prevail. Whichever side comes out on top will face one of Peru or the title holders, Chile. Prediction: Brazil 2-1 Argentina