Now that the quarterfinals are set, we rank them based on which will give us the most interesting and best matchups over the next four days.
4. Argentina vs Venezuela
Argentina were the favorites before the tournament started and things haven’t changed after the group stage. If anything they could have increased their standing as favorites as they rolled past Chile, Panama, and Bolivia in the group stage. Their embarrassment of riches from the attack has shown their worth and the backline, which is seen as their weak link, has looked solid so far. They’ve scored 10 goals and have only allowed 1. This is all with Messi only playing a small part so far, but in that bit he’s been able to nab himself a hat-trick.
Venezuela is one of the surprise teams to make it to the knockout stage and they’ve done it by playing with a disciplined and aggressive defense. In all three of their group games they scored first and would then sit back while they looked to break on the counter. They’ve been able to bend but not break so far this tournament and now will have the chance of a lifetime to see if this team is really made for a magical run as their defensive chops will be tested unlike anything they’ve seen so far in the tournament with players like Di Maria, Higuain, Aguero, Lavezzi, Pastore, Banega, and Lamela all coming at them in waves. That is of course without even mentioning Messi.
If Argentina scores first they could open the waterworks and really pour it on El Vinotinto. Don’t expect much of a back and forth match but one where Argentina will have most of the ball while Venezuela will look for their chances on the counter and on set pieces.
3. Peru vs Colombia
At their best, Colombia can be one of the most exciting and entertaining teams in the world, as they showcased in the 2014 World Cup. They haven’t looked as electric since, however they’re still a team with some fantastic players who can steal the show at any moment.
Peru might be the team that has played to their fullest potential. They’re a compact and aggressive unit that will fight and claw their way in the hopes of a result. Look for the Incas to use those same characteristics and take advantage that Colombia might not be at their best. At the same time though, if Colombia can score one and especially score early, they could employ much of the same strategy they used against the United States, when they sat back and dared the opposition to create a great opportunity and beat them.
The greatest Peru vs Colombia will offer is that it could be the most physical match of the quarterfinals.
United States vs Ecuador
If these teams played ten times they could cancel each other out with three wins apiece and four draws. They are pretty even on the quality they’ve shown, with Ecuador possibly playing slightly better over their opening three games. The United States, though, have looked to put their opening 2-0 defeat behind them and will play in a very pro-USA crowd in Seattle.
The most intriguing matchup will be United States’ backline, the team’s strongest attribute, against all the speed Ecuador will offer. Yedlin being out for United will be a big hit as his speed would allow him to keep up with the Ecuador wings, and this will be Orozco’s biggest test in a USA shirt as he’s most likely to fill that role.
The States will be challenged in creating great chances as it’s possible that because of Ecuador’s speed and quickness that Jermaine Jones will be asked to track back more and help cover with Bradley in the middle. This means that for the USA to win, they most likely will need to have a vintage American performance in big tournaments where they sit back and play on the counter, looking to use Dempsey’s experience with Bobby Wood and Gyasi Zardes speed to break on Ecuador.
Mexico vs Chile
Defending Copa America Champions? Check. Team with a current world-best 22-game unbeaten streak? Check. Offensive minded teams? Check. A packed and rocking crowd? Yes. Was there any doubt that Mexico and Chile had the potential of being the best quarterfinal matchup? Both teams ooze offensive power, with Chile having Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez, and Eduardo Vargas; Sanchez and Vidal have the class to win a game on their own. Mexico for their part have possibly the best pure goalscorer in the world at the moment with Javier Hernandez, and emerging possible stars Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano playing fearless and aggressive soccer down the flanks.
While Chile looked second best to Argentina in their opener, and escaped their game against Bolivia with a questionable penalty call in their favor, things looked to have been clicking in their final match as they were able to put four past Bolivia, while Sanchez finally started to find his stride. Also, don’t expect captain and keeper Omar Bravo to have such a stinker of a match like he did against Panama.
For Mexico, they might have looked like the second best team during the group stage behind Argentina. When they’re on they looked buccaneering in their aggressive attacking play with quick passing down the middle and daring play down the wings to take their defender on.
The game will be won in the midfield because the team who can win the middle of the field will be able to unlock their attacking weapons in better positions and put the opposing defense under more pressure.
Both teams should also enter with chips on their shoulder because even though Mexico has gone almost a year without tasting defeat, their hardest opponent was Argentina in a friendly. While they left sharing the spoils 2-2, there can be no draw in this match as it’s win or go home, making this Mexico’s toughest opponent since that game.
While Chile are the defending champions, their win last year didn’t come without some eyebrows raised. Chile as host never left the capital of Santiago for the whole tournament while also having a day more rest in five of the six matches they played. There was also the Vidal incident off the field, which he left with nothing but a light slap on the wrist.
On Sunday, expect this match to deliver fireworks, with the potential of it being the game of the tournament.