MX23RW : Sunday, July 21 04:35:41| >> :600:759077:759077:
Jul 3, 2019 at 1.30am UK at ​Mineirão
Attendance: 55,947
Brazil
2-0
Argentina
Jesus (19'), Firmino (71')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Brazil vs. Argentina - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews the mouth-watering Copa America semi-final between hosts Brazil and Argentina, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Two of international football's great rivals will renew hostilities in the early hours of Wednesday morning when Brazil take on Argentina for a place in the final of the Copa America.

Hosts Brazil go into the match as favourites to progress against an Argentina side that has failed to hit top gear so far in this summer's tournament, with a showdown against either holders Chile or Peru awaiting the winner.


Brazil

Brazil's players celebrate after Casemiro opens the scoring against Peru in their Copa America clash on June 22, 2019© Reuters

Brazil boast a proud record of having won the Copa America on all four occasions that they have hosted the tournament, and most signs so far have pointed towards them extending that 100% success rate this summer.

It has not been plain sailing all the way for Tite's side, with goalless draws against Venezuela and Paraguay threatening to halt their progress, but of the teams left in the tournament it is Brazil who have impressed the most.

Indeed, the Selecao are remarkably the only group winners to have made it through to the semi-finals, while their record of eight goals scored and none conceded gives them both the best attack and best defence of the final four.

Five of those eight goals came in the last group game against potential finalists Peru but, while the attack has been either hit or miss, the defensive solidity has been a running theme of Tite's reign.

Brazil have now kept clean sheets in their last six outings across all competitions stretching back to March, and they have conceded only two goals in their 14 games since crashing out of the World Cup last year.

Of course, Argentina's Lionel Messi is better equipped to break through such a stubborn defence than perhaps any other player in world football, but it is still a major strength for the hosts as they bid for a first Copa America crown since 2007.

It is worth remembering that Brazil are without their own talisman in Neymar too, and his absence arguably showed more during the quarter-final stalemate with Paraguay than at any other stage of the tournament so far.

The five-time world champions had 71% possession and 26 shots against a Paraguay team that had a man sent off shortly before the hour mark, but ultimately needed penalties to avoid a major upset and book their place in the semis.

Brazil have not reached this stage of the Copa America since they last lifted the trophy in 2007 - beating Argentina in the final, incidentally - and the last four times that they have made it to the semi-finals they have ended up going all the way.

Recent Copa America form: WDWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDWW


Argentina

Giovani Lo Celso is congratulated by his Argentina teammates after scoring his side's second goal against Venezuela on June 28, 2019© Reuters

While Brazil may feel that their 12-year wait for Copa America glory is far too long, Argentina have not lifted this trophy since 1993 despite being South America's second-most famous footballing nation behind Wednesday's hosts.

La Albiceleste actually have an impressive record in the competition over the past 15 years, reaching the final in four of the last five editions only to be beaten at the last hurdle on each occasion.

It has been a long run of heartbreak, then, and it leaves Messi still without an international title to his name despite being part of four major finals with his country.

Argentina are now just 90 minutes away from yet another appearance in the showpiece event, although they may feel fortunate to have even made it this far following a string of underwhelming displays up to this point.

At one stage it looked as though Lionel Scaloni's side may not even make it out of the group stages having picked up just one point from their opening two games, losing to Colombia before being held by Paraguay.

A 2-0 win over Qatar was enough to guarantee a quarter-final spot, and they beat Venezuela by the same scoreline last week to progress through to this stage despite once again being short of their best.

Argentina were the only one of the eight quarter-finalists to score during a goal-shy round, though, with all of the other three matches ending 0-0 and going to penalties.

Scaloni will be hopeful that his side are improving at just the right time, then, and victory over their bitter rivals on Wednesday morning would see them win three games in a row for the first time since June 2016 - which incidentally came in their last Copa America semi-final appearance.

With Messi in their ranks it is entirely possible for them to do just that, although they will go into the match as fairly sizeable underdogs and would need to upset the odds - as well as the partisan home crowd - if they are to reach the final yet again.

Recent Copa America form: LDWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWLDWW


Team News

Richarlison in action for Brazil on June 15, 2019© Reuters

Brazil were without Richarlison for the quarter-final draw against Paraguay after he contracted mumps, but the Everton man will return to training and should be available for selection on Wednesday.

The hosts also have doubts over Filipe Luis, who was taken off at half time in the previous round, and Fernandinho, who has not featured since the second group game.

Tite started with both Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus again last time out, and he is likely to do the same once more with Everton and Philippe Coutinho in support.

Argentina have no new injury concerns to worry about, but Scaloni must decide whether to start Giovani Lo Celso after he came off the bench to score against Venezuela.

Lautaro Martinez is expected to start again having scored in Argentina's last two games, with Messi slotting in behind him and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero.

There is a decision to be made at right-back, where Scaloni has used three different players during the four tournament games so far, with Tottenham Hotspur's Juan Foyth the latest to fill in.

Paulo Dybala and Angel di Maria are among the big names who could once again miss out on a place in the starting XI.

Brazil possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alves, Marquinhos, Silva, Sandro; Arthur, Casemiro; Jesus, Coutinho, Everton; Firmino

Argentina possible starting lineup:
Armani; Foyth, Pezzella, Otamendi, Tagliafico; De Paul, Paredes, Lo Celso; Messi; Aguero, Martinez


Head To Head

These two great rivals have not met at the Copa America since the 2007 final, which Brazil won 3-0 with Dani Alves among the scorers.

Indeed, the Selecao are unbeaten in their last four Copa America meetings with Argentina stretching back to 1993, when Argentina won on penalties en route to the title.

The most recent contest in any competition came in October when Brazil won 1-0 in Saudi Arabia, and you have to go back to 1998 for Argentina's last win over Wednesday's opponents on Brazilian soil.


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We say: Brazil 2-0 Argentina

Argentina undoubtedly have the players to pull off an upset in this match, and if Messi rediscovers his best form then that alone could be enough to swing it their way. However, on the evidence of what we have seen so far at this summer's tournament we cannot back against Brazil to make it through to another Copa America final on home soil.


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Who will win Wednesday's Copa America semi-final between Brazil and Argentina?

Brazil
Argentina
Brazil
37.8%
Argentina
62.2%
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Everton celebrates scoring Brazil's third goal against Peru in the Copa America group clash on June 22, 2019
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