The heavyweights of South America meet when Argentina take on hosts Brazil in the semi-final of the 2019 Copa América soccer at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday (8.30pm ET live on Telemundo).
Uruguay certainly have a strong claim to being one of the two best sides in the history of South American football, but within the continent and worldwide, a clash between Argentina and Brazil is, rightly or wrongly, viewed as the pinnacle of rivalry and entertainment.
Even Venezuela’s defeated coach Rafael Dudamel, speaking after his side had gone down 0-2 to Argentina in their quarter-final on Friday, admitted that it was better for the spectacle of the competition for Argentina to go through to meet hosts Brazil in the final four.
So these two seemingly eternal rivals, who met for the first in 1914, will take each other on for the 111th time on Tuesday, in a stadium where Brazil suffered perhaps their greatest ever humiliation. It was in the Estadio Mineirao, the home ground of Cruzeiro, where Germany obliterated them 1-7 in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup.
That was one of the two painful defeats Brazil have suffered on the two occasions they have hosted the World Cup. The first was in the decisive match of the 1950 World Cup, won by Uruguay. Their record as Copa America hosts is much better. They have lifted the trophy in each of the four previous times they have hosted it. That was most recently in 1989 and initially in 1919 for their first-ever international title, a century ago.
Tite’s side did, though, come very close to departing the 2019 Copa America much earlier than expected when they were taken to penalties by Paraguay following a 0-0 draw in their quarter-final on Thursday. Paraguay were reduced to 10 men just before the hour mark, but despite a barrage of shots that eventually saw them outshoot their opponents 26 to five, Brazil were unable to find a way through. They were grateful to advance on penalties.
It hasn’t been the most convincing campaign in general. Brazil stumbled to a 3-0 win over Bolivia in their opener, before drawing 0-0 with Venezuela in their second match. They woke up with a 5-0 win over Peru, before their struggles against Paraguay, which, not for the first time in the tournament, drew boos from the local supporters. Tite blamed the poor state of the pitch for some of his side’s troubles, but admitted they should still have finished their chances.
Despite some stutters, and even without the injured Neymar, who pulled out before the tournament began, Argentina feel like just the sort of team Brazil will look forward to facing. While they have sometimes labored to break down set defences, they will expect to get opportunities to move forward in transition against a less defensively-minded Argentina.
Lionel Scaloni’s side were close to being eliminated from the Copa America during the group stage. After defeat to Colombia in their opener and then a draw with Paraguay, they would have gone home without a 2-0 win over Qatar in their final group match. Having secured their progression, they then recorded a fairly comfortable 2-0 win over Venezuela in their quarter-final.
An early goal from Lautaro Martinez gave Argentina an advantage that they defended pretty well thereafter, despite Venezuela maintaining good attacking territory throughout the second half. Just as Venezuela began to offer a more concrete threat to Franco Armani’s goal, Argentina scored a second, with substitute Giovani Lo Celso pouncing on a fumbled shot to fire home and finish things off.
It wasn’t a sparkling display by any means, and Lionel Messi was unusually quiet, but Argentina still got the job done with a performance based around hard work, determination and a few rapid attacks. That is, though, unlikely to be enough to see them through to the final at the expense of the hosts.
Our Betting Preview’s Argentina vs Brazil Predictions & Picks Conclusion
Brazil have won three of the last five matches between the sides, including a 3-0 win at the Mineirao during the qualification process for the 2018 World Cup. Tite’s side certainly haven’t been perfect themselves, but they are yet to concede and have enough individual incisiveness in attack to think that they will advance to the final with victory on Tuesday.
Having looked through all the betting markets on offer for this Copa América soccer semi-final game with the top rated US sports betting sites, this is our Brazil vs Argentina prediction:
- Bet on “Yes” for Brazil to “record a shutout win” (ie: ‘to win to nil’) @ +165 with Bovada Sportsbook.