Friday, 24 September, 2021

Messi eyes on Copa America title

Messi eyes on Copa America title
Argentina forward Lionel Messi takes part in a practice session ahead of their Copa America semifinal battle against Colombia. — TwiTter PHOTO

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Colombia and Argentina square off in Copa America semi-final action on Thursday as both sides aim to book their place in Sunday's final, reports agencies.

Argentina confirmed their spot in the final four by beating Ecuador 3-0 in the quarter-finals, while their opponents narrowly got past Uruguay as they won on a penalty shootout.

Argentine talismanic forward Lionel Messi has already hit four goals and four assists in five Copa America appearances this year amidst the expiration of his Barcelona contract.

They boast an abundance of attacking options, with Lautaro Martinez, Nicolas Gonzalez, Angel Di Maria, and Angel Correa all battling for spots in the front line.

Meanwhile, new Barcelona forward Sergio Aguero will also hope to lead the line, having started the final two group games after moving to Catalonia from Manchester City in the summer.

Experienced centre-back Nicolas Otamendi will continue to lead the back line, while German Pezzella should keep his place alongside the Benfica man after an impressive showing  against Ecuador.

Despite being heavily fancied coming into the tournament, Colombia had a somewhat underwhelming group campaign, although they always looked set to qualify thanks to their opening 1-0 win over Ecuador.

A disappointing goalless draw with Venezuela then followed before they suffered 2-1 defeats at the hands of Peru and Brazil to drop to third spot by the end of the group campaign, seeing them face a tough clash against Uruguay in the quarter-finals as a result.

However, Reinaldo Rueda's men stepped up in that clash, holding a strong outfit to a goalless draw, with the tie going to a penalty shootout as a result.

They will now look to take another big scalp when they clash with a dangerous Argentina outfit on Wednesday who after drawing their opening group game 1-1 with Chile, won their three remaining matches to top the group.

Argentina clinched a crucial 1-0 win over fellow group favourites Uruguay, as Guido Rodriguez netted the only goal of the game inside the first 15 minutes.

An early Alejandro Gomez goal then fired them to a 1-0 win over Paraguay before he again got on the scoresheet alongside a Lionel Messi brace and a Lautaro Martinez goal in a dominant 4-1 win over Bolivia.

That saw them finish at the top of the group, booking a favourable quarter-final clash with Ecuador, and Scaloni's men cruised through as Rodrigo De Paul put them ahead before late goals from Messi and Martinez sealed a big win.

La Albiceleste now head into the semi-finals with high expectations to progress to the final, as they aim to lift the Copa America trophy for the 15th time in the nation's history, and the first time since 1993.