Argentina are safely through to the 2019 Copa America semifinals thanks to a 2-0 win over Venezuela at the Maracanã in the tournament’s second quarterfinal. The Albiceleste followed the formula from their last game against Qatar with an early goal followed by a solid defensive performance and a late clincher to get the victory without any real trouble. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi played all 90 minutes but was extremely quiet, and once again he got some serious help from the team.
Up next it’s a blockbuster semifinal against Brazil, and Messi cannot be quiet in that one.
Argentina made a good start to the game, with Messi playing closer to the midfield than he did against Qatar and helping Paredes with possession while De Paul and Acuña provided the width. The plan worked early as Venezuela were forced to defend deep with numbers, and they were never a threat going forward.
An early goal always helps any team, and Argentina got one just 10 minutes into the game on a corner from Messi and shot by Agüero that was brilliantly redirected into the back of the net by Lautaro Martínez. For the rest of the half the Albiceleste tried to control the game with or without possession, looking to stop the Venezuela midfield before the ball got to Rondón and look to score on the counter.
For the last 15 minutes the match was very physical with a few hard challenges, but the referee did a good job not allowing things to get out of hand. There wasn’t a huge chance for either side later on, but Argentina was the closest to create real danger.
At halftime Argentina were just 45 minutes away from the semifinal thanks to a solid team performance.
With a one-goal lead and not a lot of trouble in the first half, Argentina made an interesting call at halftime: give Venezuela all the possession, sit deep and force them to create chances while trying to kill the game on the counter.
The Vinotinto isn’t full of creative players and trouble with the ball, although they did have one giant opportunity through Hernández that was brilliantly stopped by Armani.
As we reached the final 20 minutes Argentina were still comfortable and just waiting for that one chance to finish the quarterfinal, and they got it when De Paul recovered a ball high up the pitch and found Agüero, who tried a shot from outside the box that was not saved properly by Fariñez and was poked home by Lo Celso.
The second goal was a giant blow to Venezuela, who desperately went forward trying to stay alive with a quick response. They could not get anywhere near a real chance and Argentina simply waited for the final whistle and clinched a place in the semis.
So it’s now official: Brazil vs Argentina, Tuesday night in Belo Horizonte, for a place in the Copa América Final. Get ready.
Venezuela: Fariñez; Hernández, Chancellor, Del Pino (Soteldo), Rosales (Seijas); Moreno; Murillo, Herrera, Rincón, Machís (Martínez); Rondón
Argentina: Armani; Foyth, Pezzella, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Paredes; De Paul, Acuña (Lo Celso); Messi; Lautaro (Di María), Agüero (Dybala)
Goals: Lautaro (10’), Lo Celso (74’)