This game could well hinge on Pekerman’s aforementioned dilemma with Radamel Falcao. Should he opt to play him alongside Teo Gutierrez up top-his favoured strike pairing – then we’ll back Argentina -1 at 3.70.
Argentina are no longer tournament of Copa America favourites after hosts Chile edged through their quarter-final, but they remain odds on for this encounter at 1.91.
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Yet the Albiceleste encounter one of their own tonight as Argentine coach Jose Pekerman leads Colombia into battle against them charged with neutralising the man he saw grow into a superstar, Lionel Messi.
Pekerman is a wily old character and a much underrated coach globally, despite being respected across South America. Tonight he has an enormous decision to make.
Colombia, 5.20 to win in 90 minutes, have played their best football over the last year or so without the Monaco/Manchester United/Chelsea hitman (Radamel Falcao), instead using James Rodriguez as a number 10. With Falcao back in the side the Real Madrid man has been shunted out wide again, and performances have suffered – most notably with the 1-0 defeat to Venezuela in their tournament opener.
Argentina are obvious favourites on the strength of their first XI but also more importantly their depth. Colombia can boast an embarrassment of riches up front but with Falcao shoehorned in there is not much space for the likes of Teo Gutierrez, Jackson Martinez, Carlos Bacca, Luis Muriel and Victor Ibarbo to get a chance too.
Argentina’s weak spot has been the balance in midfield – trying to ensure Javier Mascherano isn’t overburdened – and defence, although Nicolas Otamendi and Ezequiel Garay now appear a settled central defensive partnership.
Colombia will at least be relieved that their own central defensive pairing won’t be as exposed as they were by the raw physicality of Salomon Rondón earlier in the competition. Up against the likes of Messi, Sergio Aguero (if fit) and Gonzalo Higuaín they should be better-equipped but the fear is simply that there are so many threats from so many different positions that their sometimes fragile backline is a worry.
This game could well hinge on Pekerman’s aforementioned dilemma with Falcao. Should he opt to play him alongside Teo Gutierrez up top – his favoured strike pairing – then we’ll back Argentina -1 at 3.70.
If Pekerman sees the light and opts to give his midfield a fighting chance then this should be a tight, low-scoring encounter with the destructive powers of both midfields likely to take over and the Under 2.5 Goals option a favoured bet.
If Colombia start with Falcao & Gutierrez in attack then;
Back Argentina -1 to Win @ 3.70
If not, then;
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.60
The pick of the quarter-final matches sees Argentina take on a talented Colombia side, but Ed Malyon believes that we need to wait for team news before placing our bets. If Radamel Falcao starts up top with one other then our man predicts a straightforward win for Lionel Messi and co…