Copa America in Focus – Semi-Final Review

Argentina will face Chile in the final of the Copa America Centenary edition at the Metlife Stadium in New Jersey on Sunday. The tournament’s two stand-out teams deserve the chance to play-out the final act of the biggest football competition in the Americas.

MESSI BREAKING RECORDS AS ARGENTINA CRUISE PAST THE HOSTS

Just how many more records this genius of a footballer will break before his career comes to a close remains to be seen; his latest achievement was to become his country’s all-time leading goalscorer after his 32nd minute free-kick in Houston took him to 55 international goals, overtaking Gabriel Batistuta’s previous best.  Argentina now has the chance to equal the record of Copa America victories (15) when the take on Chile in Sunday’s final. In truth, after Ezequiel Lavezzi had put them in front after just three minutes against the USA, Gerardo Martino’s men never looked in any danger and after another magical strike from Messi after the half-hour mark, the game was effectively over. Two more second-half strikes from Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain put more gloss on a comprehensive win after Argentina’s dominance over 90 minutes. The team ranked number one in the competition are now the hot favourites on the best online football betting sites to lift their 15th Copa America title; they are currently priced at *1.83 to lift the trophy on Sunday.

CHILE MAKE BREATHLESS START AGAINST COLOMBIA

Chicago is known as the “Windy City” and Chile made a whirlwind start against Colombia in the second semi-final at Soldier Field on Wednesday evening. Two goals up in 11 minutes thanks to Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Charles Aránguiz and Universidad’s José Pedro Fuenzalida, it seemed as though the Chilean’s were going to continue where they left off at the weekend, when they demolished Mexico 7-0 in their quarter-final encounter. The match was delayed during half-time as if it was coming out in sympathy for the Colombian’s who had been outclassed in the first 45; when the teams did emerge for the second-half any hopes Los Cafeteros had of making a dramatic comeback were effectively ended when midfielder Carlos Sanchez was shown a second yellow card to bring his tournament to a close. Aránguiz was superb throughout for Chile and deservedly took the man-of-the-match award. Now all roads lead to New Jersey and Sunday’s clash with Argentina.

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

The final sees the second meeting between Argentina and Chile in this tournament after both countries were drawn in the same qualifying group. Messi and company won their group D encounter 2-1 in Santa Clara thanks to goals from Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega, Fuenzalida grabbing a late consolation for Chile. Colombia will face the hosts USA back at Soldier Field on Saturday in the third place play-off as the Centenary edition of the Copa America enters its final weekend of action.

*odds courtesy of Bet365

Steve Mitchell @barafundler

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