The reigning champions Chile will be looking forward to sealing their second consecutive berth in the finals when they take on Colombia in the second semifinals of the Copa America 2016 on Wednesday at the Soldier Field in Chicago.
Lionel Messi led Argentina to thrash the hosts USA 4-0 on Tuesday in the first semifinals. Chile appears to be red-hot after posting a thumping 7-0 win over the CONCACAF Gold Cup champions Mexico in the quarterfinals.
But Eduardo Vargas, who netted four goals against Mexico, pointed out that his team shouldn’t be considered as favorites in the second semifinals. The former QPR hitman is expecting a far tougher challenge from the Colombian side, as reports the ESPN.
“We don’t consider ourselves the favorites,” the 26-year-old said maverick striker pointed out ahead of the encounter. Vargas is the leading scorer in the Copa Centenario until now.
“We had a good game against Mexico and we know how tough Colombia is. The match against Mexico is in the past. Now we’re thinking about Colombia, how we’re going to go up against them, how we’re going to attack, how we can win the match.”
The Colombian Challenge
Arturo Vidal, considered as the nucleus of this Chilean side will be missing the clash due to suspension.
Colombia was lucky to edge past a spirited Peru side in the quarterfinals in tie-breaker. There were concerns over Carlos Bacca’s ankle injury in the Colombian camp, but the striker declared himself match-fit on Tuesday. Bacca also clarified that Vidal’s absence won’t make much difference at Soldier Field.
“We know what Vidal brings, but they have excellent players.
“Individually, they are great but they are a team and that is why they are champions.”
Colombian coach Jose Pekerman is considered as a talisman in the Latin American soccer circuit. Colombia has attained a lofty height in the FIFA rankings under the 66-year-old man, who opted for the citizenship of the beleaguered nation recently. Pekerman will bank on James Rodriguez alongside Bacca to notch up a goal which looked elusive against Peru. Colombia will play the semifinals for the first time since they won the tournament in 2001.
Predictions, head-to-head stats and projected lineups
The stakes are high as Chile, currently fifth in the FIFA rankings, locks horns with third-ranked Colombia. But the odds are favoring the reigning champions as the bookies are expecting a replay of the last edition’s finals at Santiago, where Chile won their maiden crown defeating Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the finals to advance in the FIFA rankings.
Chile is slightly ahead in head-to-head stats for this match-up with 14 wins, 10 losses and 12 draws.
The projected lineups and formations of both teams according to the Leaguelane.com are given below.
Colombia (4-2-3-1): Ospina – Diaz, Murillo, Zapata, Arias – Torres, Perez – Moreno, Cardona, Cuadrado – Bacca.
Key Player: James Rodriguez (Forward) / Age: 24 / Copa 2016 Goals: 2
Chile (4-3-3): Bravo – Beausejour, Jara, Medel, Isla – Vidal, Diaz, Aranguiz – Puch, Sanchez, Vargas.
Key Player: Eduardo Vargas (Forward) / Age: 26 / Copa 2016 Goals: 6
Photo courtesy: Copa América 2016/Twitter