Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova - Copa America
Second favourites behind hosts Brazil, Argentina get their Copa America campaign underway with a mouthwatering encounter against Colombia. With games against Paraguay and Qatar to come, the winner of this opening fixture will be in pole position to qualify for the knockout rounds in top spot.
Argentina are undefeated in their last eight matches against Colombia, winning five of those. One of those victories was at the 2015 Copa America, when La Albiceleste knocked Los Cafeteros out at the quarter-final stage on penalties, following a goalless draw after 90 minutes.
With Gonzalo Higuain now retired from international duty, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is surely first choice to partner Lionel Messi up front. Aguero joins club mate Nicolas Otamendi in the Argentine squad, along with fellow Premier League players Roberto Pereyra and Juan Foyth. Angel Di Maria and Paulo Dybala are both in the squad.
Former Arsenal man David Ospina keeps goal for Colombia, ahead of Premier League duo Yerry Mina and Davinson Sanchez in defence. Radamel Falcao captains La Tricolor after rediscovering his scoring touch back at Monaco, with James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado operating in support of El Tigre.
Argentina v Colombia Preview and Predictions
Although Argentina haven’t tasted defeat against Colombia in almost 12 years, they’ve only beaten Los Cafeteros by more than one goal on one occasion. However, the Colombians haven’t even managed to score against their South American rivals in their last five meetings, last finding the net against the Argentines back in 2011.
For La Albiceleste, it’s crucial they get off to a good start in this tournament. Brazil may start the Copa America as favourites in the betting, but they’ve lost Neymar to injury and a convincing Argentine performance in their opening game would put Lionel Scaloni’s side firmly on the front foot.
Argentina haven’t won this competition since 1993, while captain Messi has been on a crusade for a number of years to finally deliver a trophy for his country. Any team containing the magical No 10 usually starts as favourites for the win, and this game is no different.
The Argentinians swatted aside Nicaragua 5-1 in their final warm-up game, and are 5/4 to win on Saturday. Colombia have impressed in their warm-up fixtures too though, beating both Panama and Peru 3-0. Former Manchester United assistant Carlos Queiroz's side are the 14/5 underdogs for the win here, with the draw priced at 9/4.
Argentina to win to nil at 12/5
Colombia haven’t scored a goal against Argentina in almost eight years, and La Albiceleste start this game as the strong favourites for the win.
Messi to score first at 18/5
The Barcelona forward is desperate to land a major trophy for his country, but he’s running out of time to do so. He’ll be keen to get into the swing of this tournament right from the off.