Ralph Hannah –
Brazil vs Argentina – Tuesday, July 2, 21:30 BRT/02:30CEST (July 3) – Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
For the first time in over a decade, the Copa America will be treated to the “Superclásico de las Américas” as Argentina and Brazil come head-to-head in Belo Horizonte. Their last meeting was the 2007 final in Maracaibo where a Robinho-inspired Brazil won 3-0 to take their 8th title.
The hosts are yet to concede a goal at the tournament and have dominated every game in terms of possession and shot count. However, both Venezuela and Paraguay managed to shut them out. They will welcome back Casemiro; the Real Madrid man missed the previous game through suspension. That should bring more balance to the side and allow Arthur more space to move the ball around.
It is hard to predict Argentina’s approach, as Lionel Scaloni has tinkered with his team so far in the tournament. In fact, Argentina haven’t played the same XI for the last 40 games; you have to go back to the group stages of the Copa Centenario for that.
They are likely to keep the 4-3-3 formation and hope the extra body in the middle can cut supply to Arthur-Casemiro. They will look to play directly to the forwards who are expected to be Messi, Aguero and Lautaro Martínez. The 21-year-old Inter Milan has been one of the biggest positives for the Albiceleste so far in this competition forward along with Tottenham’s Juan Foyth.
Tite’s team will hope to repeat the 3-0 victory he achieved during the World Cup Qualifiers in the same stadium in 2016, although I expect the style of the game to be different. Against Bauza’s midfield of Biglia and Mascherano, he allowed his team to surrender possession in the middle and play more direct, and down the flanks, that day Dani Alves and Marcelo made the most passes for the home side. With Arthur in the side and Argentina without a Mascherano type figure, the Brazilian boss will hope to control that area and defend in possession as they have done to date.
For Argentina, they may need to be patient, and incisive when they do see the ball. To have a chance of winning Messi must be at his creative best while Aguero and Martinez need to be clinical in the box as they won’t likely see many chances. Brazil is the side that has conceded the least shots (24) so far with Alisson only forced into five saves this tournament.
Brazil vs Argentina – Players to look out for:
Everton #19 – Brazil
The 23-year-old Gremio winger only got his chance because of Neymar’s injury, being deployed on the left side of a three-man attack. He has grabbed the chance and been the most exciting offensive threat scoring two and assisting once so far. He runs at defenders at pace and likes to cut in and shoot often creating space by dragging players into positions they don’t want to be.
Fun fact: His nickname is “Cebolinha” (Little Onion) for his resemblance to a character from popular comic strip Turma da Mónica (Monica’s gang).
Lautaro Martinez #22 – Argentina
The Inter forward has been the key to Scaloni’s formula, despite just 5 ft 9 in he offers a presence in the area by attacking the penalty spot. This has become a perfect foil to Messi who wants to operate deeper and ensures Aguero isn’t isolated on his up front. Martinez has been clinical so far and will need to take his chances if the albiceleste have a chance of beating Brazil.
Fun fact: He was born in Bahia Blanca, also the hometown of former coach Coco Basile. However, the city is nicknamed the national capital of Basketball, producing 3 Olympic Gold medallists including four-time NBA champion Emanuel Ginobili.
Brazil vs Argentina – Match Stats
- Argentina haven’t beaten Brazil in a competitive game since 2005 when they won a World Cup Qualifier 3-1 in Buenos Aires. Brazil have never lost a competitive game at home to Argentina.
- Since their last Copa America meeting in 2007, Brazil has won 6, Argentina 4 and there have been three draws
- Brazil have lost both semifinals played in the Estadio Mineirao, 1-3 vs Peru in 1975 and the infamous 1-7 vs Germany in 2014. They are their only competitive defeats in the city (10 games played).
- This is the most frequently contested Copa America fixture with 32 meetings, Argentina have won the most (15) compared to Brazil (9) and there have been 8 draws.
- Argentina have only lost one Copa America semifinal, a 0-1 defeat to Uruguay in 1987.
- Lionel Messi has never scored against Brazil in a competitive game. His four goals all came in friendlies, including a hattrick in 2012.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Brazil vs Argentina – 1-0
Brazil vs Argentina – Expected Lineups
Alisson – Alves, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Luis – Casemiro, Arthur – Everton, Coutinho, Jesus – Firmino
Head Coach: Tite
Armani – Foyth, Pezzella, Otamendi, Tagliafico – De Paul, Acuña, Paredes – Messi, Agüero, Martinez
Head Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Ralph Hannah is Londoner, who has lived in Luque and is now located in Miami, with a keen interest in Paraguayan football history and statistics. A frequent traveler throughout Latin America he attends games throughout the region and has written for a variety of publications and set up the first English-language blog on Paraguayan Football. When not in the Defensores del Chaco he’s looking after his 2 daughters. Follow Ralph on Twitter @paraguayralph.