THERE’S a heavyweight quarter-final clash between Argentina and Colombia in store. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) previews the best bets.
Argentina v Colombia | Saturday 00.30 | Premier Sports
Colombia’s punishment for missing out on a top-two finish in Group C of the Copa America is a meeting with tournament favourites Argentina in Vina del Mar. Los Cafeteros produced their best effort when ending a 24-year wait for a win against Brazil and boss Jose Pekerman will be hoping for a similarly confrontational approach against last year’s World Cup finalists.
Argentine Pekerman is held in high regard back in his homeland thanks to a hugely successful spell as a youth team and senior coach. It’s an intriguing subplot too that of the current Albiceleste squad, a huge percentage came through the ranks under Pekerman's watchful eye, adding extra spice to the superstar Saturday showdown.
I was very sweet on Colombia going the distance but drab displays against Peru and Venezuela have caused big concern. Radamel Falcao has failed to fire despite being handed the captain’s role and Pekerman has so far preferred the combination of Teo Gutierrez to lead the line alongside the skipper.
With Carlos Bacca suspended and Jackson Martinez unfancied, James Rodriguez will again be asked to shoulder the attacking burden for Los Cafeteros but it is worth pointing out that Colombia have peppered their opposition with the most shots in the group stages. The big negative with that statistic is the fact Pekerman’s charges hit the target with only six of their 46 efforts.
Opponents Argentina may have followed the form book by topping Group B but Tata Martino’s troops have been far more efficient than spectacular in their quest to end their long wait for a senior title. The Albiceleste toiled against Uruguay’s battling qualities and should expect another feisty encounter in Vina del Mar.
Martino’s men have dominated possession in all three fixtures struggled to cut loose. Interestingly, Argentina’s strength has come in the success of their fabled defence. The World Cup finalists have now kept clean sheets in six of their previous seven competitive games and stretched their unbeaten streak to 10 in meaningful matches. The six shutouts Argentina posted have also come alongside six Under 1.5 goals winners.
The two teams have met five times since the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and all five have been keenly contested clashes – just seven goals have been netted between the two teams with three of those five banking in the Under 1.5 Goals market too. With that in mind and Colombia expected to put up a stern defensive showing, having a dabble on the 7/4 (Paddy Power) on Under 1.5 Goals looks well worth an interest.
I’ll also follow that selection up with a correct score punt on Argentina getting the job done in 90 minutes. A 1-0 win can be backed at 5/1 with Paddy Power and looks a fair price for this quarter-final tie.
Argentina v Colombia – Under 1.5 Goals (7/4 Paddy Power)
Argentina v Colombia – Argentina to win 1-0 (5/1 Paddy Power)