Qatar will take on Argentina at the Arena do Gremio on Sunday as the pair play out their final fixture in Group B of this summer’s Copa America in Brazil. Both sides are still well in with a chance of qualifying for the quarter finals despite earning just one point up to now, due to Paraguay having amassed two points from their opening two games in second spot. Nobody in the group can catch Colombia though as they are way ahead on six points, so it all comes down to the chasing pack behind him on the final day.
Tournament invitees Qatar will be pleased with their displays in the Copa America up to now, and they have provided spectators with a glimpse of what to expect in three years time during the World Cup. There was a little pressure on their shoulders in terms of avoiding potential embarrassment, however an opening match 2-2 stalemate with Paraguay saw them earn one point more than their upcoming opponents managed in their first outing. Even more impressive, they went down by two goals before the hour mark and looked certain to suffer defeat, until Almoez Ali popped up with a crucial goal to bring the deficit back to just one goal with around twenty minutes remaining. An own goal from opposition defender Rodrigo Rojas leveled the score, and neither side could net another in the thirteen minutes left to play. Upon the second matchup versus Colombia, Qatar held out for eighty-six minutes until Duvan Zapata bagged an all important goal for the table toppers in Group B to seal all three points, leaving Qatar in need of a victory over Argentina to progress to the next stage.
Argentina have not been in the best of form during their Copa America campaign thus far, failing to pick up a win as of yet and scoring the least amount of goals in the group. In the opener against Colombia, Carlos Queiroz’s men put the Argentinian national team to the sword with two second half strikes in what was a relatively dull affair. The first half was full of mistakes from both sides, and at times during the game it looked as though there would never be a breakthrough goal. That was until Roger Martinez hit the back of the net with under twenty minutes to go, putting Lionel Messi and co under real pressure to strike back. With four minutes left, Zapata grabbed his first goal of the competition with a tidy finish at the end of a swift attacking move, securing maximum points for one of the favourites to win gold. The Paraguay fixture was seen as must-win for most fans of Argentina, but again, they were frustrated by their opponents and could only score from the penalty spot. Of course, it was Messi who got on the scoresheet for his side after Richard Gustavo had provided Paraguay with a first half advantage, and Derlis Gonzalez missed a penalty just five minutes after the five time Ballon D’Or winner tucked his one home.
That draw now means that Argentina simply must win if they hold any hopes of making it to the quarter final stage of the Copa America.
Qatar have started each of their two Copa America matches so far with a lone striker and one attacking midfielder in behind, with the defense and midfield switching between three at the back and five in the middle, to four at the back and four in the centre. Here, we can see them reverting to a three man defense. Even though that looks a dangerous ploy on paper, Argentina are an unpredictable team and more often than not, they underperform. Almoez Ali is a fantastic forward to have in their ranks, so Qatar will undoubtedly be looking to him on the counter attack, while the five man midfield will attempt to crowd out the Argentine midfielders. Qatar should have a full squad available for this one.
One of Watford’s star men during the Premier League last season, Roberto Pereyra, will miss out on this encounter due to a groin injury. Other than that there are no injuries to report from the Argentina camp. Lionel Scaloni explained after the Paraguay match that his side are lucky to be alive in the Copa America, and judging by their performances he isn’t wide of the mark with that opinion. The formations have been basic, with 4-3-3 being utilized against Colombia and 4-4-2 in the meeting with Paraguay, the latter of which seeing a much changed starting line up with Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria on the bench. We can’t see him risking having his best players watching as substitutes again here, and an attacking approach will be used with Messi at the forefront of it.
These two have scored a combined total of three goals in the four games they’ve played thus far, and it’s unlikely that there will be many more in this one. Qatar have maintained a solid defensive structure in their two matches, while Argentina’s attackers have not found their scoring touch as of yet. Due to this, we think that Skybet’s odds of 11/10 for under 2.5 goals looks a decent price. Argentina will be up for this one as the magnitude of the ninety minutes could not be any greater. Put simply, anything but victory is not an option. If they do come away with three vital points, it won’t be by a massive winning margin based on previous evidence. Skybet have Argentina to win by exactly two goals at 11/4. As well as that, the goals will probably arrive in the second half, similar to the three goals they pair have netted already. Skybet have two goals bagged in the second half at 5/2 and to us, that looks like a great bet.
Under 2.5 goals at 11/10
Argentina to win by two goals at 11/4
Two second half goals at 5/2