After one of the most eventful quarter-final stages seen in any international tournament in recent years, Copa America 2011 has reached the semi-finals stage with arguably all the lesser-favored teams coming through from the last eight. With the likes of Argentina, Brazil and Chile bowing out of the tournament, the competition has become even more unpredictable. On one hand Uruguay are bidding for a record 15th Copa America title, while on the other Venezuela are going for their first ever. It doesn’t get more interesting than this as THT brings you closer to the semi-final games coming up.

 

PERU

v

URUGUAY

July 19, 2011,
21:45 local time (0:45 GMT – 20th July)

 

Peru came into the tournament as one of the underdogs with nobody expecting them to get this far. But they rode their luck in the group stage and qualified for the quarters as the third-best team. Having reached the last eight, Peru produced one of the best team performances of the tournament beating Columbia 2-0. Peru have won the competition twice before but have reached the semis after a long gap of 14 years and hence they will be determined to go all the way.

Peru have conceded just two goals in the tournament so far, one of which was a last minute own goal against Chile in the group stages. They have maintained good discipline throughout their matches and have been extremely difficult to break down. Sergio Markarian would be expecting the same from his team again as he will once again set them up to play on the break and hope that they will be as clinical as they were against Columbia in the last round.

On the other hand, Uruguay are now termed as the tournament favourites with both Brazil and Argentina out in the quarterfinals. Having won the tournament 14 times –  a record which they share with Argentina, Uruguay has a great chance to go one better and become the most successful nation in the competition’s history. Yet, despite being favourites, Uruguay’s spot in the finals is anything but guaranteed as they have struggled to hit top form all tournament. Nevertheless, they should have gained a lot of confidence from their shoot-out win against hosts Argentina.

Uruguay have had a strange tournament so far with their less fancied defence getting more praise than their much threatening attack. Oscar Tabarez has used different tactics in games depending on the opponents and the situations ranging from 4-4-1-1 to 3-5-2. This time around, he would like to take the game to Peru from the moment the whistle is blown and use his team’s fast pace and greater physical strength to break down the Peruvian defence. Diego Perez is suspended for Uruguay and the fact that they could be more tired given their 120 minute encounter against Argentina will be a problem for Tabarez.

The two teams played against each other in the group stages as well with the game finishing 1-1. This time though, Uruguay is expected to have enough in the tank to end Peru’s dream run.

Key players

Peru – Juan Manuel Vargas, Paolo Guerrero

Uruguay – Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan

TheHardTackle’s Prediction

Peru 1-2 Uruguay

 

PARAGUAY

v

VENEZUELA

July 20, 2011,
21:45 local time (0:45 GMT – 21st July)

 

Paraguay come into the game having overcome the mighty Brazilians in one of the most atrocious displays of penalty shooting ever seen in the game with the five-time world champions missing all four spot kicks in the shoot-out. Still winless in the tournament, Paraguay have played both defensive as well as attacking brand of football in the tournament as seen in the games against Brazil and Venezuela respectively. However, they would be hoping to end their winless streak and march to the finals with a convincing win over Venezuela.

Gerardo Martino has used both 4-3-3 as well as 4-4-2 formation in the previous games but the latter has been a very narrow formation with the midfield playing in a diamond set-up that allows the opponents to use the width of the field if they want to. However, against Venezuela they are expected to go with a 4-3-3 formation, which proved to be very successful in the group match between these two teams where the Paraguayans were denied victory only by two late goals from Venezuela.

 

Paraguay and Venezuela fighting tooth and nail

 

Venezuela, on the other hand, come into the semis after causing arguably the biggest upset of the tournament beating Alexis Sanchez led Chile 2-1. Having won just 2 out of 50 games at Copa America previously, Venezuela have doubled their tally in what has been by far their best performance in the Latin American competition. However, they would not be satisfied with their achievements and would be determined to go one better and reach the final.

Cesar Farias has stuck to a 4-4-2 formation in all the games of the tournament so far although he has used various forms of the formation with the midfield four varying from diamond setup to a regular four spread across the pitch. He is expected to go with the same formation that helped his team come this far in the tournament.

It was a cracking game in the group stages the last time these two teams met and the fans will really be in for a treat if that previous encounter was anything to go by. Paraguay were unlucky to not win that game but they are expected to finish the job this time around and end Venezuela’s fairytale in the process.

Key players

Paraguay – Villar, Santa Cruz

Venezuela – Jose Salomon Rondon

TheHardTackle’s Prediction

Paraguay 3-1 Venezuela