Any accusations that the 2011 Copa América is yet to ignite will be quashed tonight when Argentina entertains Uruguay.
Patchy form in the group stage sees the hosts meeting their oldest footballing foe earlier than expected in the competition.
Argentina and Uruguay have been crowned Copa América champions 14 times each.
There’s also little to separate the two when to comes to head-to-head meetings at the tournament. Both nations have won 13 of the 29 matches contested between the two at the Copa América, with three draws also having been played out.
A draw is not an option for this quarter-final however, with extra-time played if the scores are level after 90 minutes before moving onto penalties if needed.
Argentina’s last match in Santa Fe saw them rounded upon by the home crowd. Lionel Messi in particular was picked out by fans showing their frustration during the 0-0 draw with Colombia.
Since then Argentina have managed to get the crowd back on side with a convincing 3-0 win over Costa Rica. In the aftermath of the tricky route through the group stage Messi himself has once again outlined his commitment to his country.
“It’s not the first time I have had to put up with negative stories about my play. It doesn’t make any difference to me because I know I always give my all for the national team.”
Colón de Santa Fe’s stadium is dubbed the Elephant’s Cemetery on account of the string of giant killings that have taken place there. Uruguay will hope to add to the stadium’s reputation for upsets when they play Argentina.
Uruguay’s latest meeting with Argentina takes place on the same date that saw them beat Brazil to win the 1950 World Cup.
Argentina’s head coach Sergio Batista will use the same starting XI that put Costa Rica to the sword. That’s means a second start of the tournament for the competition’s leading goalscorer. Sergio Agüero to double his Copa América tally with a hat-trick is on at 25.00 with paf.com.
Also retained in the line-up is Fernando Gago who did his best against Costa Rica to dispel the idea that Batista is playing the Copa América with too many defensively minded players.
Uruguay come into the game off the back of a scrappy win over Mexico with Diego Forlan still unable to find the back of the net at this Copa América. With goals at a premium, Uruguay’s head coach Óscar Tabárez has his concerns about his own frontline as well as the opposition’s attack.
“There is no recipe for stopping Messi. It’s a problem without a solution so we can’t afford to focus too much energy on it. Messi can create problems for us whatever tactic we come up with to stop him.”
Tabárez makes two changes to the team that lined up against Mexico with Mauricio Victorino coming in for the suspended Sebastián Coates and Martín Cáceres replacing Cristian Rodríguez. With Cáceres playing at full-back Alvaro Pereira will move up the pitch to play on the left side of midfield.
The injury picked up earlier in the tournament by Edison Cavani has made it easier for Tabárez to deploy a more cautious tactic. Forlan and Luis Suarez are the only recognized strikers in Tabárez’s starting line-up. Uruguay to come away with a smash and grab 1-0 win is marked up at 16.00 with paf.com.
Argentina: Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Nicolás Burdisso, Gabriel Milito, Javier Zanetti; Fernando Gago, Javier Mascherano, Ángel di María; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Sergio Agüero.
Uruguay: Fernando Muslera; Maximiliano Pereira, Diego Lugano, Mauricio Victorino, Martín Cáceres; Alvaro Gonzalez, Arevalo Ríos, Diego Perez, Alvaro Pereira; Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan.
For more on Copa America 2011, listen to The South American Football Show.