Champions face hosts as Copa reaches last eight

SANTIAGO, (Reuters) – The most successful team in the history of the Copa America take on the most impressive side from the first round when Uruguay face Chile in the first quarter-final today.

The Uruguayans are the defending champions and have won the competition 15 times — more than Argentina or Brazil.

Hosts Chile have never won it but finished unbeaten and top of Group A having scored 10 goals in their opening three matches — twice as many as any other side in the competition.

“The statistics are clear. Chile played very well in the group stage,” their midfielder Marcelo Diaz said.

“So, yes, I agree that Chile were the best team in the group stage but that’s over now… Now we start the games of life and death.”

The winners of today’s tie in Santiago will face either Peru or Bolivia who meet in the southern city of Temuco tomorrow, while, on the other side of the draw, Argentina and Brazil could be heading for a semi-final showdown.

The Argentines take on Colombia in their quarter-final in Vina del Mar on Friday while Brazil face Paraguay in Chile’s second city, Concepcion, on Saturday.

Argentina were enigmatic in the group stage. They played superbly in the first half against Paraguay before surrendering a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2. Similarly, against Jamaica, they took an early lead but failed to kill off the match and had to settle for a 1-0 win.

“We’re lacking a killer instinct,” coach Gerardo Martino said after the Jamaica match. “You can’t account for players with the ability that ours have missing so many chances.

“The fact that we didn’t finish off the match, plus the physical issues we’re having towards the end of the games, leaves me feeling a bit uneasy.”

Martino’s men will take on a Colombia side who are also failing to fire on all cylinders and needed a helping hand from Brazil in the final round of group matches to avoid elimination.

Their playmaker James Rodriguez has yet to make much of an impact and they will play the rest of the tournament without key midfielder Edwin Valencia, who tore a cruciate ligament in Sunday’s drab goalless draw with Peru in Group C.

Brazil finished top of that group but have yet to set the Copa alight. They beat Peru and Venezuela by a single goal and lost to Colombia. They have also lost their star striker Neymar — suspended for the rest of the tournament for his part in a fracas against the Colombians.

Robinho took Neymar’s place in their last match and will almost certainly start against Paraguay.

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