Venezuela vs Argentina : Messi continues to seek a first major trophy at senior international level and his bid for glory in Brazil is now into the do-or-die stages. He and head coach Lionel Scaloni will hope the knockout rounds have not come too soon for a team that needed victory over Qatar simply to earn second spot in Group B, a 2-0 win in Porto Alegre easing fears raised by a loss to Colombia and draw with Paraguay.
== MATCH INFO ==
Copa America 2019
Team : Venezuela vs Argentina
Date : Friday, June 28
Start Time : 3:00 Pm Et
Brazil looms large as a potential semifinal combatant, but for now Argentina must find a way past Venezuela which finished as runner-up to the host nation in Group A and has proved stubborn in the past.
Venezuela held the Albiceleste to two draws during 2018 World Cup qualifying, took three points off them in the previous cycle and prevailed 3-1 in a March friendly, a game that heralded Messi’s return from his self-imposed international exile.
The Barcelona captain netted when these teams met in the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario three years ago but Rondon, Venezuela’s inspirational centre-forward, does not anticipate a repeat.
When the sides met last in a friendly earlier this year, Venezuela recorded a shock 3-1 victory in Madrid.
Brazil exorcised the ghosts of penalty as they held their nerves in the shoot-out to defeat Paraguay in the quarter-final of the Copa America 2019. Goalkeeper Alisson Becker emerged as the star performer, but not for his performance in the penalties but during the first 90 minutes where he bailed out the Selecao on multiple occasions. Brazil qualification to the semi-finals means that a semi-final battle against arch-rivals Argentina is on the cards if Lionel Messi’s side goes on to defeat Venezuela in their last 8 fixture.
Paraguay put in a worldly performance against 5-time World Cup winners, especially considering they were down to 10 men after Fabian Balbuena brought down forward Roberto Firmino in the 54th minute. While a VAR was taken, the referee’s decision to award the penalty was overturned and a free-kick was given instead but the review also resulted in the yellow card being changed to a red. Dani Alves’ free-kick, however, went just wide as the scores remained 0-0.
Venezuela and Argentina will meet in the second Copa America 2019 quarter-final on Friday. The Venezuelan players’ best ever finish is the 4th place they achieved back in 2011, while the Argentinians are fourteen times champions of South America, but their latest triumph dates back to 1993, when Diego Maradona was still playing.