Brazil and Argentina will renew their traditional, caustic rivalry this week when they meet to contest the Semi Final of the 2019 Copa America, in a grudge match heavily wrapped in intrigue.
The Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte will provide the stage for the latest act of one of football’s most heated and long-running feuds, and the chance to secure a place in the Final of the Copa America at the other’s expense, adds a unique and potentially explosive twist to this latest skirmish between Brazil and Argentina.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important individual duels that could play a key role in deciding the outcome of this week’s Semi Final.
Read our comprehensive match preview for more Brazil vs Argentina predictions and betting tips here.
Casemiro vs Lionel Messi
By his own admission, Messi is “not having his best Copa America”, however, the indomitable Argentine’s ability to conjure up moments of match-defining genius from inside a vacuum of underperformance is unparalleled.
One swing of that left foot can split the entire contents of stadiums in two, sending them hurtling towards opposite ends of the emotional spectrum.
So far, Messi has been deployed centrally in the traditional “number 10” position at the Copa America by Argentina’s Head Coach Lionel Scaloni – a role that would see him occupy the same spaces as Brazil’s Casemiro if he reprises it this week.
Midfield destroyer and Real Madrid employee Casemiro has already served a suspension at the Copa America for picking up 2 bookings, though that won’t stop him trying to muscle Messi out of the game this week.
Philippe Coutinho vs Leandro Paredes
With his future at Barcelona uncertain, Philippe Coutinho has been playing like a man keen to impress potential suitors at the Copa America.
The technically gifted 27-year old has notched 2 goals and 1 assist in 4 games for the tournament favourites, and Coutinho has played more key passes per game on average (3.3) than any of his Brazilian teammates – in fact, only Chile’s Charles Aranguiz (3.5) has played more key passes per game on average than his Brazilian counterpart in the entire competition.
Tasked with stopping Coutinho’s inventive distribution will be another player facing a summer of uncertainty at club level.
Wantaway PSG and Argentinean anchorman Leandro Parades has been in fine form for his country at the Copa America, playing at the base of Scaloni’s midfield 3, though Parades will need to drag his game up another level to combat Coutinho’s defence splitting probes.
Everton vs Juan Foyth
After 2 impactful substitute appearances in Brazil’s first couple of Group games, exciting 23-year old wide attacker Everton forced his way into the starting XI by game 3 and subsequently kept his place for the host nation’s Quarter Final bout against Peru.
Having scored twice and assisted once in just 237 minutes of Copa America action, Everton is almost certain to hold on to his left-wing back berth for Brazil’s clash with Argentina this week.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Juan Foyth will be preparing himself to face one of the competition’s most in-form players in Everton, but after a composed performance at right-back for La Albiceleste in their Quarter Final win over Venezuela, the versatile 21-year old will be confident that he is up to the job.
Click the link to read more Copa America predictions and betting tips in our match preview section here.
Roberto Firmino vs Nicolás Otamendi
Roberto Firmino and Nicolás Otamendi will know each other’s games inside out from their frequent duels in fixtures between Liverpool and Manchester City – a familiarity that helps to set up one of the most fascinating individual head-to-heads in this week’s contest.
Firmino’s unselfish play and clever movement make him a key member of Jurgen Klopp’s free-scoring Liverpool attack, and the 27-year old applies himself in a similar way for Brazil.
The 35-times capped Brazilian has registered 1 goal and 2 assists at the Copa America so far, and he will fancy his chances of giving the often flat-footed Nicolás Otamendi the run around in Belo Horizonte this week.
Dani Alves vs Marcos Acuna
Playing as the furthest left of a central midfield 3, Marcos Acuna will be instructed to cover the much of the space in front of Argentina’s left-back Nicolas Tagliafico when his team are out of possession this week.
Tagliafico will need plenty of assistance from his midfield compatriot Acuna to limit the influence of Brazil’s veteran wing-back Dani Alves.
Even at 36, Alves’ incredible engine and running power allows him to completely dominate the right flank on his own, and Marcos Acuna will have to be at his best to curtail Alves’ penetrating forays deep into Argentinean territory.
Thiago Silva vs Sergio Aguero
Led by the evergreen Thiago Silva, Brazil’s defence has been impressively efficient at the 2019 Copa America.
Brazil have maintained a 100% clean sheet record throughout the tournament so far, and this week, Argentina will need to become the first team to score past the Seleção’s rearguard to have any chance of progressing to the competition’s final in Rio next week.
The Argentine’s star-studded attack has looked frustratingly impotent for large swathes of their Copa America matches to date, and Sergio Aguero in particular has failed to hit the heights we have come to expect from the prolific Manchester City hitman.
Aguero’s tussle with Thiago Silva pits two of the world’s best players in their respective positions against each other, and both players are potential match-winners for their teams in very different ways.
Check out the latest odds, best offers and top football predictions today here!