Argentina and Bolivia will finish up their group stage matches on Tuesday, June 14 in Seattle, WA at CenturyLink Field. Argentina currently is at the top of Group D with six points. Bolivia sits at the bottom with zero, coming off back-to-back 2-1 defeats.
Group D has been very competitive
Outside of Argentina’s 5-0 thrashing of Panama last week, Group D has been a highly competitive group. All of these games have been close. Argentina won their first game 3-1 over Chile. Bolivia lost their opening match 2-1 against Panama after Blas Perez scored a late winner for Panama.
Bolivia looked like they might earn at least one point against Chile last time out, but was denied when the assistant referee waved his flag for an apparent handball in the box in the 96th minute of the match. Some will argue that it was a handball while other will say it was not. Regardless, Bolivia found themselves on the wrong side of the 2-1 score line and now have no chance of advancing to the quarterfinals.
In their first game against Chile, Argentina had Lionel Messi sitting on the bench and they didn’t need him in their 2-1 victory over Chile. Angel Di Maria led the team and showed they were more than Messi. In their second game against Panama, Messi once again started on the bench. In a game that saw Argentina leading 1-0 over Panama, Messi found his way onto the pitch in the 61st minute. What happened from minute 68 to minute 87 was pure magic.
Messi scored his first goal of the tournament in the 68th minute. Ten minutes later, he scored on a brilliantly taken free kick. He beat Panamanian goalkeeper, Jaime Penedo, to his near post to extend Argentina’s lead to three goals. Nine minutes later, Messi completed his hat-trick after holding off a defender and cutting it the ball back onto his left foot.
Bolivia left wondering what could have been
Bolivia should have at least one point if it weren’t for a questionable handball call as mentioned above. Bolivia has shown that they are not afraid to go one on one with anybody. They are content to sit back and let the other team control and dominate possession. That was evident when at halftime of their game against Chile, they only possessed the ball 26% of the time.
In their game against Panama, Bolivia found their only goal off of a set piece. After a missed clearance from Panama, Juan Carlos Acre hammered the ball home to tie the game at 1-1 early in the second half. Eventually, their dreams of starting off Copa America with a win were dashed when Blas Perez completed his brace in the 87th minute.
This will be the 38th all-time meeting between these two South American clubs. Argentina leads the series 26-6-5 (W-L-T). Bolivia has not beaten Argentina since April 1, 2009. Since then, Argentina has a record of 3-0-3. Argentina has scored 97 goals against Bolivia and has only conceded 33 since their first match in 1926.
The question most people will be asking heading into this game on Tuesday is will Messi start or will he even play at all? Argentina has already guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals. He came into Copa America with an injury and you can be sure that Argentina will be careful with Messi as he is a huge key to Argentina making it back to the Finals of Copa America. Messi is also just two goals shy of becoming the all-time leading scorer in Argentina’s history.
Argentina will need to be careful not to concede any fouls near or around the box. Because if they do, this can happen.
That has to be the goal of the tournament. For Jhasmani Campos to feel that confident to take a shot from that distance, at the far post, shows just how good of a player that he is. Bolivia is a young squad and Argentina may just be too much for them in this one. Bolivia also has nothing to play for, so they are a team that has nothing to lose.
Messi will more than likely come off the bench and will change the flow of the game if Bolivia is able to keep it close. Campos will show what he can do once again with free kicks and come close to scoring another beauty. Messi will be the difference in the end as he changes the entire game early in the second half.