Arena do Gremio - Copa America
Who’d have thought it? Just one point from their opening two matches and Argentina face a must-win game against Qatar on Sunday. Anything but a victory will see La Albiceleste crash out of the Copa America with an embarrassing group stage exit.
This weekend’s game will only be the second ever meeting between the countries. The first was back in 2005, with three goals in three second half minutes from Juan Roman Riquelme, Julio Cruz and Roberto Ayala handing Argentina a 3-0 win in a Doha friendly.
Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni dropped Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria against Paraguay, but that proved to make little difference in another disappointing display. Those two could come back into the side captained by Lionel Messi, who rescued his country from the penalty spot in their last match.
Qatar coach Felix Sanchez, who moved to his adopted country from a Barcelona academy featuring a young Messi in 2006, named an unchanged line-up for his team’s second game against Colombia. The Spaniard could go with the same XI once again, which has impressed so far at this tournament.
Qatar v Argentina Preview and Predictions
Incredibly after two matches of the 2019 Copa America, Qatar are ahead of Argentina in Group B by virtue of more goals scored. The Middle Eastern nation could qualify for the knockouts with a draw, depending on how results in the other groups go, but only a win will do for Argentina.
One of the favourites at the start of the tournament, La Albiceleste have looked burdened by the weight of expectation. They improved in the second half against Paraguay, but were rescued both by VAR and Messi, as well as a penalty save from goalkeeper Franco Armani, who also kept out a late free-kick to ensure his team escaped with a 1-1 draw.
Qatar meanwhile put up another good display against Colombia, with their resistance only broken in the 86th minute by Duvan Zapata. The Maroons have surprised a few people so far, and a result against one of the world’s biggest footballing nations would probably be their finest hour.
Even with Argentina’s sloppy showing in Brazil thus far though, the bookmakers give the Qataris little chance of success. They are 16/1 to pick up a famous win, with the draw priced at 11/2. Argentina are 3/11 to get the three points they need to progress to the quarter-finals.
Argentina to win and BTTS at 13/5
La Albiceleste are anything but secure at the back, as showed by Nicolas Otamendi’s awful challenge to concede a penalty against Paraguay. They should still get the win though.
Lionel Messi to score first at 13/8
The Barcelona forward rode to the rescue of his country against Paraguay, and all eyes will be on him to produce the goods once again in this match.