Blog Written by Felipe Pachon (@Feliplesoccerboi):
With the Copa America group stage completed, we now arrive at the quarterfinal stage. All four games are of very high competition and with talent everywhere. The matches begin tonight with the host nation, the USA, taking on Ecuador. Friday brings us Peru vs. Colombia, with Colombia being the favorite. And on Saturday there is a double-header to conclude the stage with Argentina vs., surprise nation, Venezuela, and Mexico vs. Chile.
The quarterfinals kick off with the exciting matchup of USA against Ecuador in Seattle, Washington. Having already played each other as recently as last month, they are quite familiar with one another. The hosts surprised everyone after losing the opening match to Colombia by rebounding with convincing wins over Costa Rica and Paraguay to win Group A. The Yanks are riding some great momentum with captain Michael Bradley leading the troops. On the other side of this match up is the always-dangerous Ecuador. Having drawn against Brazil and Peru, and then winning quite comfortably against Haiti, Ecuador is undefeated in the tournament so far. Although they did lose to USA last month in a friendly due to a great goal by Nagbe, the game was a tight one and this is a very unpredictable tie. With players such as Antonio Valencia, Enner Valencia, Clint Dempsey, and Michael Bradley, this quarterfinal promises lots of quality football.
The following day one of the favorites to go all the way take the stage. Colombia makes their third consecutive quarterfinal run in Copa America against Peru, the very nation that eliminated them in the 2011 version of the cup. Colombia and Peru have each respectively strengthened themselves since then. Colombia disappointed in their last match against Costa Rica, but in their defense they did make 10 changes to their starting lineup. Colombia hope to come back with a bang and reinforce the claims of them winning the cup for their second time ever, having won it in 2001. Meanwhile, Peru has been one of the surprises in the tournament by eliminating soccer superpower Brazil. Led by striker, Paolo Guerrero, Peru looks to make a third consecutive appearance in the semifinals! This tie shows a lot of promise and looks to be one of the more competitive matches in the round.
Arguably the best player in the world will play on Saturday against Venezuela. Lionel Messi looks to increase his lead in the golden boot race and lead his Argentinean teammates to another final. Argentina is the only team in the cup to have won their three group stage games, scoring 10 goals and only conceding one. With such an impressive attack and a very solid defense, it’s hard to make an argument as to why they can’t and won’t win the Copa America, but Venezuela begs to differ. Beating one of the favorites of the tournament, Uruguay, Venezuela has really dropped some jaws this summer. Venezuela has improved from last years Copa performance and has done so in style, going undefeated in the group stage. Although many expect Argentina to walk all over La Vinotinto with their superstars, one must not take them so lightly.
The quarterfinals end with what might be the closest matchup of the round. 2015 Gold Cup winners, Mexico, take on 2015 Copa America winners, Chile. Players such as Alexis Sanchez, Andres Guardado, Arturo Vidal, and Miguel Layun being involved in this very attractive tie, show just how competitive this match will be. Mexico is playing very well this summer and Chile has picked up the pace since losing their first match against Argentina. An in-form Alexis Sanchez is the player to watch on Chile’s side having scored two goals in their last match against Panama, while Jesus Corona gave the world a show with his amazing footwork in his goal against Venezuela to ensure Mexico got the top spot in Group C.
All in all, these quarterfinals will be very competitive and hard to predict who goes out on top. We are definitely in for a great ride this weekend.