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Messi to star in Copa America semi showdown

Tue, Jun 21, 12:18pm by Jake Equid

The USA meets world number one Argentina for a place in the Copa America final on Wednesday morning in what is being billed as the biggest football match on US soil since the 1994 World Cup.

All 71,000 seats will be occupied with the city of Houston incredibly excited to see their team in action but also to witness the best player in the world, Lionel Messi.

Sportsbet has installed the USA at $8 to progress inside the 90 minutes with Argentina at $1.45 and the draw at $4.20.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi and his teammates cruised to victory against Venezuela in Massachusetts on Saturday, winning 4-1.  He set up two goals and scored one of his own which took his personal tally to 54 for his country, equalling the all-time record of the legendary Gabriel Batistuta.  The sky blue and whites are undefeated in this tournament and look the goods to win their 15th Copa America title, which would also equal the record, currently held by Uruguay.

It wasn’t quite so straightforward for the USA; they led 2-0 just after the hour mark when Zardes headed home following a 22nd-minute strike from Clint Dempsey.  The Ecuadorians then scored through Michael Arroyo and had many chances late to send the game into extra time.  The stars and stripes hung on though and booked a place in the final four for the first time since 1995.

Unfortunately, they’ll have to take the field in this one without three key players in Jermaine Jones, Bobby Wood and Alejandro Bedoya who will all miss through suspension. Just how the hosts combat the loss of three of their starters will be crucial in determining the outcome of this match.

The Argentine defence had massive question marks on it going into the tournament.  Coping the majority of the flack was the central defence pairing of Nicolas Otamendi and Ramiro Funes Mori, who didn’t have great seasons in the Premier League for Manchester City and Everton respectively.  The goal that Venezuela’s Salomon Rondon scored against them in the quarterfinal highlighted this weakness.  This is an area that the USA must exploit.

I hope you followed my advice and got the collect on my quarterfinal prediction where I picked the winner and the correct score in the USA-Ecuador match.  Here I’m confident that Argentina will be too classy for the Americans and they’ll move into the final.  Lionel Messi in my opinion is the best in the world and he’ll score ($1.72) like he always does in the big games.

Predicted Result: Argentina 2 USA 0 – $6.50

BEST BET: Argentina to win. $1.45

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