It might be winter in this part of the world, but the temperatures are sure to rise over the weekend as the 2011 Copa America reaches the quarter-final stage. FIFA.com marks your card for the four ties in the world’s oldest national team competition, which include the latest neighbourly tussle between Uruguay and hosts Argentina.
Saturday 17 July
The two most successful teams in the history of the competition, with 14 titles apiece, meet in a River Plate derby that many feel could easily have been the final and which pits together two of South America’s superstars in Lionel Messi and Diego Forlan, who have yet to open their tournament accounts.
La Albiceleste have had the better of their old foes in recent times, winning both their meetings in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying competition. There is one statistic that favours La Celeste, however. At the 1987 Copa America, the last one to be held in Argentina, they knocked the hosts out in the semi-finals thanks to a solitary Antonio Alzamendi goal. Days later, the Uruguayans overcame Chile in the final.
Colombia take on Peru in Cordoba in the weekend’s first match, with both sides in contrasting form. While Los Cafeteros went unbeaten in topping Group A, the Peruvians only qualified as one of the two best third-placed teams. The Colombians have not lost to Peru in the Copa America since a 1-0 defeat in Lima in 1983. Has the time come for Sergio Markarian’s side to end that record? “I can see myself in the semi-finals,” said the confident Peru coach. “I think we’ll be staying around until the 25th.”
Brazil and Paraguay take to the stage on Sunday, having already drawn 2-2 in the group phase. La Albirroja are aiming for their first semi-final appearance since the competition adopted its current format in 1993. “It’s going to be an extremely tactical game,” predicted Seleção coach Mano Menezes, as he looks to bring Brazil their fifth Copa crown in the last six attempts.
Closing the quarter-final line-up are Claudio Borghi’s impressive Chile side and Cesar Farias’s Venezuela, who were only pipped to top spot in Group B by Brazil on goal difference. La Roja have not lost any of their nine Copa America encounters with La Vinotinto, although the one-time also-rans are anxious to end records such as that in Argentina, which should make for an intriguing tie.
Paolo Guerrero (PER) vs Luis Martinez (COL)
The Peruvian goal-getter and the Colombian goalkeeper have made the most of the unexpected opportunities they have been given at the 2011 Copa America. Injuries to Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfan opened the door for Guerrero, who has scored both his side’s goals, while Martinez, who came in for the injured David Ospina, is the only keeper yet to concede a goal in the competition. Can the Colombian custodian maintain his perfect record against the in-form Peruvian poacher?
Did you know?
Should any of the knockout matches end in a draw after normal time, 30 minutes of extra-time will be played, followed by a penalty shootout if necessary.
4 - The number of players who will sit out the quarter-finals due to suspension: Ezequiel Lavezzi (Argentina), Sebastian Coates (Uruguay), Jean Beausejour (Chile) and Giancarlo Carmona (Peru).
What they said
“Against Ecuador we produced our best performance so far, but it’s all or nothing now. We know that this is a new Copa America that’s starting,” Brazil forward Alexandre Pato.