After meeting in the qualifications for the World Cup just this month, now Argentina and Chile will go against each other in their debut Copa America game.
Argentina are a handful to face in the group stages of this competition and they made it to the knockouts in stunning style in each of the editions since 1997. They made it to the finals on six occasions during the period and became champions in 1991 and 1993. But they lost in four finals between 2004 and 2016 and last time in 2019 a third place finish.
Chile, first one the trophy in 2015 at their home soil and then again in 2016. And in the last edition, they reached the semis before bowing out to Peru and eventually defeated by Argentina in the third place play-off.
This will be the last time this golden generation of La Roja appears in a major tournament. The likes of Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Bravo, Gary Medel and Maurico Isla have all past their prime.
Form Guide: Argentina
Argentina’s improved form since their 2017/2018 collapse under Jorge Sampaoli has not necessarily been electrifying but it is noticeable. Lionel Scaloni’s 28-man squad wasn’t confirmed until Thursday, just three days before the tournament. However, there is an impressive balance unlike recent Argentine squads and, as ever, a plethora of attacking options. A lack of an international trophy is something often thrown at Lionel Messi so the motivation for one of, if not the greatest, players of all time will be high.
Solidity has been increased but there is a potentially unconvincing streak in this Argentina side. Back-to-back qualifying draws against Colombia and Chile in the build-up to this tournament has extended their unbeaten run to 13 matches in all competitions since their semi-final defeat at the aforementioned previous tournament.
Form Guide: Chile
Intensity has often been the key description of Chile’s footballing style and culture in the 2010s under the coaching of Marcelo Bielsa and Jorge Sampaoli. However, despite players remaining from that vintage, this could be a step too far for that style of play due to the ageing nature. Claudio Bravo is the oldest of a 28-man squad that consists of ten players over the age of 30.
Recent results have been steady but a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Bolivia in qualifying cancelled out what had been an impressive 1-1 draw against Argentina at the start of this month. They are now unbeaten in six matches but have failed to keep a clean sheet on eight occasions in their last ten matches.
A reason for Chile’s ageing squad will be linked to being potentially over-loyal but also a lack of players coming through at the required level. An example of that will be Blackburn’s Ben Brereton being called up despite having scored just 17 Championship goals in 133 appearances at two clubs. This would indicate an over-reliance on a group of players that have declined in recent years failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
How the Match Could Go
Despite the talent at Scaloni’s disposal, Argentina are a slightly unpredictable side, with the issue often hampering the nation’s progress being how to fit all that quality into one side without making the system top-heavy. In recent World Cup qualifiers, Argentina drew 1-1 with Chile, in which Messi found his name on the score-sheet, as well as drawing 2-2 with Colombia, highlighting the vulnerabilities in Scaloni’s system. For Chile, they have drawn twice and won once under recent-appointment Lasarte. There is not much to go on given how little time he has occupied the dugout, but with talent in the guise of Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Charles Aranguiz, the nation are always a threat. This is a game where attackers would be key and it would come down to which sides makes the better use of their chances.
Tip: Double Chance
Argentina are the better side and have the better players but Chile’s team-orientated culture and tactical approach has seen them have successful Copa America’s. A 1-1 draw a week or so ago in the qualification for next year’s World Cup seems a very strong indication for what this match might be. Argentina will be slight favourites but we know well enough from previous encounters from this particular fixture that anyone can come out on top. Lionel Messi will be eager to prove himself on the international stage once again but Chile have come as thorns in his path on several occasions in recent years. Bet365 have 1.19 odds, Bet365 have 1.25 and 1xbet have 1.31.
Under 3.5 goals
Although most of the South American match-ups result in quite a few goals score, both of the current teams are somewhat of an exception. Only 3 of Argentina’s last 10 games have had more than 2.5 goals, while 6 out of Chile’s last 10 have had 3 or more. Head-to-head, 3 of their last 8 meetings have gone over 2 goals, but they’ve never reached over 3.5 goals. With that in mind, we are going with a tip we don’t usually go for. 1xbet have 1.25 odds, Bet9ja have 1.26 and Bet365 have 1.28.
Both Teams to Score: Yes
Despite this match-up producing fewer goals than usual, we have to back the BTTS – Yes bet. The odds available provide a great payout for such a market. We have to consider the fact that both sides have scored in 9 of their most recent 10 games, which means that the probability to see both teams scoring is very high. Bet9ja have 1.92 odds, Bet365 have 2.03 and 1xbet have 2.10.
Anytime Goal-scorer (Argentina)
Time is running out for Messi to lift some international silverware and Scaloni has assembled a youthful squad around the great man to give him another shot this year. The legendary Barcelona star has a good record against the Chileans and even scored against them just days ago. He is the number one man to make things happen for Argentina. Bet365 have 1.66 odds while Bet9ja have 2.25.
The Inter Milan star marks the next generation of stars for Argentina and has proven to be prolific and consistent over the past two seasons. Alongside Messi, he will come as one of the best threats upfront for Scaloni. Bet365 have 2.50 odds while Bet9ja have 2.65.
Anytime Goal-scorer (Chile)
Similar to Messi, Sanchez boasts a prolific record against the Argentines. He was crucial for Chile on their way to win their first Copa America. The striker extraordinaire scored the winner against Argentina in the shoot-out after the final failed to produce a goal. A year later, when Chile retained the crown, after beating Argentina in a shoot-out in the final yet again, he was also the winner of the Golden Ball. Just recently, Sanchez scored once again in the 1-1 stalemate between both sides and he could yet do so once again today. Bet365 have 3.50 odds for him to score while Bet9ja have 4.35.
Vargas has some pedigree in the Copa America and has once finished as the competition’s top-scorer. His experience will come in very handy and he could come as a value option to get on the score-sheet as well. Bet9ja and Bet365 have 4.50 odds for him to score.