IT’S quarter-final time in the Copa America. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the best bets for Chile’s clash with Uruguay in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Chile v Uruguay | Thursday 00.30 | Premier Sports
The Copa America just got really interesting. We’ve reached the quarter-finals and stakes have suddenly leapt up a few notches. We’re just 90 minutes away from a penalty shootout – with no extra-time, the knockout phase means it’s advantage underdogs, pressure on favourites.
In the very early hours of Thursday we’ll be treated to a really intriguing showdown as tournament hosts Chile take on defending champions Uruguay in Santiago. The draw has been very kind for both sides – the winner will face rank outsiders Bolivia or Peru in the final four and so will avoid the likes of Argentina, Brazil or Colombia until a possible meeting in the final. A huge incentive if ever either nation needed one…
Chile took seven points from Group A, notching 10 goals in the process – that’s six goals more than the next highest scoring side in the competition though it’s worth pointing out, La Roja were in the softest group. Still, Jorge Sampaoli’s side put in a dominant display to smash Bolivia 5-0 last time out but were arguably more impressive in the second half of their 3-3 draw with Mexico.
The hosts have showed both sides of their Jekyll and Hyde nature in the competition so far. A rampant, unrelenting wave of attacking movement and fluency mixed with a few haphazard moments in defence that’s made to look worryingly weak when posed with high balls. They’ll need to find a balancing act to combat the resolute and feisty Uruguayans in Santiago.
The Celeste will have been disappointed by their four-point haul in Group B – having edged out Jamaica and squeezed out by Argentina, Oscar Tabarez’s troops were held to a draw by Paraguay, meaning they had to settle for third place. As expected, the 2011 champions have missed all-time top goalscorer Luis Suarez with Edinson Cavani failing to fire as the main man in Uruguay’s attack.
With just two goals to their name, Uruguay must improve their potency in the final third but it’s also worth pointing out that only Colombia boast a better defensive record as we enter the last eight. Defence is most certainly king for the Celeste and their centre-back pairing of Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez will also offer a serious threat in Chile’s penalty box from set-pieces too.
In three of the last five Copas including both of the most recent two, Uruguay eliminated the hosts at the quarter-final stage and the tiny South American nation have a habit for upsetting the odds on the big occasion. They love being written off, love a battle and relish their role as party poopers. They won’t go down without a fight – quite literally.
I’m not prepared to trust Chile at odds-on quotes. The pressure is on the host nation now and with the clock ticking down and penalties within sight for Uruguay, the Celeste will be going all out to spoil La Roja’s dreams of a first Copa triumph. Should Chile come out on top, I’d be surprised if they did so by more than a single goal. In 2011’s quarter-finals, three of the four matches ended level with no side winning by more than one goal.
With that in mind, I’m keen to take Uruguay +0.75 in the Asian Handicap market at 7/8 with BetVictor. Backing this selection means we’ll have ourselves a winner should the Celeste win or draw in 90 minutes. But if the defending champions do lose by one goal exactly, we’ll only lose half of our stake. The only way in which we’ll end up penniless is if Chile win by two or more goals.
Chile v Uruguay – Uruguay +0.75 Asian Handicap (7/8 BetVictor)