The two heavyweights of South America meet in the semi-finals of Copa America 2019, as Brazil take on Argentina on Tuesday night at 9:30pm local time in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

For viewers in the UK, and mainland Europe, that will be 1:30am/2:30am in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Brazil and Argentina have not met at major tournament finals since 2007, so this fixture has been a long time coming, with so much on the line. Who will book themselves a place in the final?

Brazil

Hosts Brazil haven’t won a major trophy since 2007, which was also the last time they faced Argentina in competitive match on the major stage. They won 3-0 in the Copa America final, securing the title after a golden generation in Brazilian football. Since then, it hasn’t gone their way with many semi-final and quarter final heartaches, with no greater than their 7-1 humiliation at the hands of Germany in the 2014 World Cup held in Brazil. Where was the location for that defeat? None other than Belo Horizonte – the setting for this huge semi-final clash on Tuesday. Will Brazil be cursed again? Or will they do their best to partly remove one of the darkest days in their history?

Brazil haven’t been at their best during this tournament, but can boast a 100% clean sheet record having not conceded a goal. They have also scored 8 goals in four matches, which is to be expected, but that doesn’t show the whole story, as those 8 goals came in thrashes of Bolivia, 3-0, and Peru 5-0. Venezuela and Paraguay have been able to keep them out, and Argentina will hope to do the same. Manager Tite will hope that the likes of Firmino, Coutinho and new rising start Everton can produce the goods up front, whilst the likes of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos can keep Aguero and Messi quiet at the other end. Can Brazil reach the final in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday?

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Argentina

Brazil may have suffered from big match defeats in the last decade, but Argentina’s search for success has gone on too long now for their fans expectations. 1993 was the last time they won the Copa America, or any huge major tournament for that matter, and in this last generation has had some of their best ever players – none more so than the mercurial Lionel Messi. Over the past 25 years, they have had all the hope, but not glory, losing the last two Copa America finals on penalties to Chile in 2015 and 2016, and also lost to a late extra time winner to Germany in the 2014 World Cup. Time is running out for this Argentina side is going through a transition and will soon have to cope with life after Lionel Messi, who doesn’t have many more opportunities to win silverware for his country. After many years of hurt, how sweet would it be for Argentina to get to their 2nd major tournament final in Rio de Janiero by beating Brazil? That’s the possibility here.

So far in this tournament, Argentina have struggled in their matches to reach the semi-finals but they have accomplished their target, by hook or by crook. A sobering defeat to Colombia on match day one was followed by a hard-fought draw against Paraguay which dealt their qualification hopes a huge blow. They managed to labour to a 2-0 win over Qatar to qualify for the quarter finals where they met Venezuela. Another 2-0 result in a relatively comfortable win, as they appear to grow game by game. They’ll need to go up the gears again for them to win in the backyard of Brazil. Can Messi, Aguero, and top scorer Lautauro Martinez get a victory which will be remembered for many years to come?

Head to Head

In overall history, Brazil have the slight edge having won this fixture 45 times in the past, with Argentina winning on 39 occasions. In the past decade, they have met each other 11 times in FIFA World Cup qualification matches, friendlies or glorified friendlies such as the Superclásico de las Américas – held annually between the two teams when there isn’t a major tournament. Out of these 11 clashes, Brazil have won five times, Argentina have won four times with two draws.

In Copa America history, they have met six times in the 1990’ and 2000’s, with Argentina winning twice in 1991 and 1993 – as they went on to lift the trophy on both occasions. In their last four meetings, in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007, Brazil are undefeated winning on three attempts and drawing once. The last meeting was the final of the Copa America 2007 final, which Brazil won 3-0 – goals from Julio Baptista, own goal from Roberto Ayala, and a goal from current captain Dani Alves.

Predictions and Betting Tips

Brazil are favourites at 17/20 to win, with Argentina priced at 18/5. For the sides to draw, which would see the game go straight to penalties, at 23/10. To qualify for the final outright, Brazil are at 2/5, with Argentina at 7/4. My first advice is not back a winner from extra time, because even though bookmakers will display the odds, there is NO EXTRA TIME in the quarter finals or semi-finals of Copa America 2019.

In three of the four quarter finals, they went to penalties, so do consider backing either team to win on penalties at 9/1. If I had to pick a winner in normal time, I’d go for the hosts here. At the beginning of the tournament, I picked Argentina to win as I am awaiting Messi to win on the big stage for his country, but Brazil look a more capable team with home advantage on their side. My score line prediction for the game will be a 3-1 win at 16/1.

For goal scorers in this game, you can get good odds backing both Barcelona starts Coutinho of Brazil and Lionel Messi of Argentina to score at 12/1. For the first goal scorer, Lautaro Martinez of Argentina has scored the first goal for his country in the last two games, and he is at 8/1 to achieve it again, or for the dark horse to score first, back Casemiro to score first again from his midfield position at 20/1.

My score line prediction suggests there will be goals, but that unfortunately hasn’t been the theme in the knock-out stages with only two goals from four matches. If you feel this trend will continue, you can back there to be less than 1.5 goals at 7/4.

Finally, for the tipsters, the real money can be won by guessing correctly the HF/FT permutations, with an Argentina/Brazil at 28/1 or Brazil/Argentina at 50/1. That’s right – fifty! It’s perfectly possibly, so have a cheeky bet, and let’s hope this classic encounter will deliver!

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