The stage is all set for Lionel Messi to shine and take Argentina to the finals of Copa America against the lesser fancied South American rivals Paraguay. The neighbouring countries will meet at the Estadio Ester Roa with the winner going on to take a place in the showpiece finals on July 4 in Chile.
Though Messi guided his country to the World Cup finals in Brazil 2014, Argentina haven’t exactly been clinical in major tournaments lately. They haven’t won a big tournament since 1993, when Gabriel Batistuta led them to the Copa America title.
LIVE UPDATES of Copa America semifinals: Argentina vs. Paraguay from the Estadio Municipal Alcaldesa Ester Roa Rebolledo in Concepcion, Chile.
Paraguay will face Argentina for the second time in this year’s Copa America on Tuesday. The first match in the group stage ended in a 2-2 draw.
Since then Paraguay have played well and surpassed all expectations. The match with Uruguay ended in a draw and then they caused a massive upset by throwing out Brazil from the competition on penalty shootouts.
Argentina reached the semi final by defeating Colombia on penalty shoot as the match ended 0-0 in normal game time. Argentina lifted the trophy in 1993 and since then the team has not tasted much success in the tournament.
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FACTOIDS AND TRIVIA
- Argentina have lost only one of their last 18 Copa America matches (W11 D6): the 2007 Final against Brazil.
- Gerardo Martino’s team have not conceded goals over their last three games in the competition.
- Argentina won their last two Copa America semifinals, both with a 3-0: against Colombia (2004) and Mexico (2007).
- The Argentinians have conceded only one goal in their last four semifinals in this competition (W2 D1 L1): a 1-0 defeat against Uruguay in 1987.
- This is the second time Paraguay reach this stage, with a single match semifinal: the first was a 0-0 against Venezuela in 2011.
- Overall, Paraguay have played five semifinal matches in the Copa America: one win, on the home soil against Brazil in 1979, and four draws.
- Argentina are unbeaten against Paraguay in the Copa America (W18 D5).
- Six out of the last eight Paraguay goals in the Copa America were set piece: three following a free-kick, two after a corner, one on penalty.
- Drawing 2-2 at the group stage, Paraguay became the second team that haven’t lost after being 0-2 against Argentina in a Copa America match: the first was Ecuador in 1983.
- Lionel Messi has completed the most dribbles in this Copa America: 30, three more than the whole Paraguay squad (27).
- Paraguay recorded 31% of possession against Argentina: so far their lowest percentage in a game of the current Copa America.