COPA AMERICA 2021 PREVIEW: BOLIVIA VS ARGENTINA, SCALONI'S MEN TO TURN ON THE STYLE AGAINST BOTTOM PLACED BOLIVIA?

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The group stages of 2021 are coming to an end and the Group A is all set with the four qualifiers already finalised before the final match day. Argentina has led the group table comfortably, winning two of their three games and drawing one. The unbeaten Argentine side is prepared to face the bottom-placed team Bolivia on Monday, June 29.

Bolivia is in the last position in Group A and aer mathemcatically out of contention. They couldn’t manage to draw a single point in their three matches, losing all of them and could only score one goal, through a penalty. In fact, they could only win one of their last 10 games and have constantly been in poor form. A hopeful draw against Chile right before Copa America went all in vain when three of their most important players turned out Covid positive including the captain Marcelo Moreno.

 

 

Bolivia has nothing to lose and even a win won’t change things for them. Although, they will play for pride and to go out with at least a point.

Argentina has been in splendid form in the group stage, beating two major opponents Uruguay and Paraguay while drawing with their old foes Chile. They recently defeated Paraguay with a solo goal from Papu Gomez, and haven’t scored more than one goal in any of the three matches.

 

 

A win against Bolivia will secure the top spot for them in the group and also secure an easy draw in the next round, against the fourth-placed side from Group B.

 

TEAM NEWS

Cesar Farias had a troubling time with his Bolivian side facing a covid crisis at the last moment. Three key players, including captain and all-time highest goalscorer Marcelo Moreno, were found covid positive and missed the starting two games. Moreno and Vaca returned as substitutes in their last game against Uruguay and will most likely start the game against Argentina. Cuellar has finished his suspension but might still not feature.

 

 

Farias has tried a different formation in each of the three games but nothing worked out and might go with a 4-5-1 this time around to provide defensive stability as well as dominate the midfield.

Bolivia Probable Lineup: Lampe; Flores, Quinteros, Jusino, Saavedra; Arce, H. Vaca, Justiniano, R. Vaca, Ramallo; Moreno

 

Argentina has been lucky with the squad fitness and has a full-strength team available for the final group fixture. With qualification already sorted for Lionel Scaloni’s team, we might see fresh faces in the lineup against Bolivia and other experiments to try before the knockouts.

 

 

Argentina has tried a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 formation in their previous games with playing behind the striker(s). Scaloni is expected to go with a 4-3-3 yet again, allowing his forwards to exploit Bolivia’s vulnerable defence.

Argentina’s Probable Lineup: Martinez; Tagliafico, Romero, Lisandro Martinez, Foyth; De Paul, Domingues, J. Correra; A. Correa, Aguero, Messi

 

GAME CHANGERS

Marcelo Moreno is Bolivia’s biggest asset for a long time now. He has been a trusted goalscoring channel ever since his international debut in 2007 and is now the all-time top scorer of the national team. His absence in the first two games was heavily felt by Cesar Farias as Bolivia failed to score a single open-play goal.

 

 

The 34-year old will be key to Bolivia’s attempt to go out with their heads held high in the tough challenge of facing the group leaders.

Lionel Messi, if not rested, is the most likely candidate to confirm Argentina’s top spot by putting the ball in the net. The 34-year old is unplayable on his day and is the highest goalscorer for La Albiceleste with 73 goals. He has missed out on the coveted Copa America trophy on five occasions including three finals. This is probably the last time Messi is playing a Copa America in his prime and would want to improve his performance having scored only one goal in three games.

 

 

The Argentina captain will want to make the most of Bolivia’s shaky defence as seen in the previous fixtures and improve his numbers going into the quarterfinals.

 

PREDICTION

It is a matter of pride for Bolivia but Argentina looks like the obvious favourite in the coming fixture. There hasn’t been any major upset in this year’s Copa America and it still looks unlikely as we approach the final group stage game. Lionel Messi’s side is heavier in terms of both skill and current form and Bolivia would want to avoid any mishaps.

FootTheBall predicts a 2-0 win for Argentina, sending them through as group winners.

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