Sam Langston (@Samlan98) previews Brazil v Argentina and provides us with his best bets for Tuesday’s Copa América semi-final clash by analysing team news, potential line-ups, head-to-head, key stats and facts and more.
- 2019 Profit & Loss: -0.88pts
Brazil v Argentina Betting Preview, Odds & Tips
- Date: 03/07/2019
- Time: 1:30
- Venue: Mineirão
- Channel: Premier Sports
Brazil v Argentina and Chile v Peru: the continents’ two biggest rivalries that are set to be renewed in the 2019 Copa América semi-finals. These fixtures, whether friendlies or finals, are always hotly contested match-ups but there’s a particularly important feel to the Clásico opening the semi’s; the one between South America’s most notorious rivals.
This, not only because a Copa final spot is at stake, but also due to a number of side stories that add intrigue to Tuesday’s Superclásico derby. The main reason being that both of these huge football nations are yearning to end lengthy waits for silverware. 2007 was the last time Brazilians saw their Samba stars rule South America’s soccer scene, whilst followers of Argentinian football have endured a much longer wait – it’s 26 years since a trophy entered the AFA’s cabinet.
Of course, this means that Lionel Messi is still yet to win a major competition with his country, despite La Albiceleste reaching the 2014 World Cup showpiece and four of five previous Copa finals. In fact, the aforementioned Brazil World Cup also has a bearing on the upcoming Clásico. The Estadio Mineirão venue is where Brazil famously lost 7-1 in the semi-finals to Germany and this therefore adds another fascinating element to what’s already a gargantuan fixture.
The current market positions Brazil as firm favourites to qualify for Sunday’s Maracanã final. This side have recorded just two losses, chalked up 31 wins, and acquired the same number of clean sheets in 40 games under Tite. Although the Seleção coach can sometimes be criticised for his conservatism, there’s no denying that’s an outstanding return.
Mind you, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Tite’s troops over the last few weeks. They’ve been booed off twice by home crowds due to under-par showings versus Bolivia and Venezuela and previously had to rely on their quality from the spot to squeeze their way past 10-man Paraguay. As the market reflects, the Seleção are still in much better shape than their opponents heading into the Clásico, though.
Argentina booked their place in the semi-finals with a 2-0 victory over Venezuela. They’ve now recorded back-to-back clean sheets and, to their credit, appear to be more structured than they were at the start of the tournament. Nevertheless, I still have huge reservations about their overall approach, especially when they come up against better opposition. In this tournament, La Albiceleste have scored: a penalty, two-goals due to goalkeeping errors, and an effort resulting from a corner, with just one of their five goals coming as a direct result of their outfield play.
Caretaker coach Lionel Scaloni has encouraged a highly direct style and this doesn’t suit the players that he possesses at his disposal. You’ll never see Franco Armani instigate play from the back by giving the ball to his centre halves but instead, the River stopper will punt the ball to Lautaro Martínez or Sergio Agüero, neither of whom are particularly proficient hold-up players. These two will run the channels and try to latch onto balls played in-behind, but this approach feels far too predictable for a Brazil outfit who are probably the best defensive side on the international scene.
There are also a number of question marks surrounding Lionel Scaloni’s side in defence. Juan Foyth was used by the Argentina gaffer in an unnatural right-back role versus Venezuela and last-ditch tackling bailed him out on numerous occasions; Darwin Machís consistently beat the Spurs centre-back for speed. Scaloni has tinkered with both personnel and systems throughout his reign as interim manager, so it will be interesting to see what his tactical approach is on Wednesday. If Foyth plays at full-back, the battle between him and the pacey David Neres could be crucial in deciding how this game pans out.
The approaches that both coaches employ in selecting their teams couldn’t be more different. Whilst Lionel Scaloni has constantly tinkered throughout his interim reign, Tite is very stubborn in his ways.
The Brazil boss is likely to set up his side in his favoured 4-2-3-1, with key cog Casemiro set to come back into the double pivot alongside Arthur. The Samba boys haven't lost a match in the 31 starts he’s made for his country.
Argentina adopted a 4-3-3 in the quarter’s but could also match Brazil and revert to the more compact 4-2-3-1 that they used against Colombia in the groups. Giovani Lo Celso or Ángel Di María are likely to replace one of Sergio Agüero or Lautaro Martínez if Scaloni opts to go with this formation. Juan Foyth and Renzo Saravia are the leading candidates to start at right-back.
Potential Brazil Starting XI: Alisson, Alves, Silva, Marquinhos, Filipe Luís, Arthur, Casemiro, Coutinho, Everton, Jesus, Firmino.
Potential Argentina Starting XI: Armani, Foyth, Pezzella, Otamendi, Tagliafico, Di María, Paredes, De Paul, Acuña, Messi, Martínez.
Head To Head
- Brazil won the last Superclásico 1-0 in 2018. The Seleção have won fourteen and drawn four of the previous eighteen derby’s on home turf, with Argentina’s last win on Brazilian soil coming back in 1970.
Key Stats & Facts
- Under Tite, seven of Brazil’s nine games in major tournaments have produced at least two goals.
- Each of Tite’s five international tournament wins have come by a minimum of a two-goal margin.
- No side has produced more: attempts, attempts on target, attempts in the penalty area, generated a better xG, or conceded less shots per-game in the Copa América than Brazil.
- Brazil – 10/11
- Draw – 23/10
- Argentina – 41/10
The way that Argentina set up will play a significant role in determining the outcome of this game. Scaloni has hinted he’ll set up to win in 90 minutes and if he does, this plays into the Brazilians’ hands. Utilizing a more pragmatic system would be the intelligent way to go about proceedings here.
Brazil can struggle to break down sides who sit in deep and remain compact, but give them room, as Peru did, then the Seleção’s forward quality will thrive. An early goal is key for them, and if they can get one, the game has to open up, which initially suggests the Over/Under line of 2 has been set too low.
It’s telling that 17 of 20 (85%) Copa semi-finals since 1993 have featured at least two goals, with nine of these seeing a minimum of three. We can back Over 2 Asian Goals at 89/100 and that looks a very generous price. I believe this market may have over-reacted to the trio of 0-0’s in the quarter-finals.
This selection ensures we secure a push should two goals be scored in Belo-Horizonte. Any more and our bet is a winner. This bet would have paid dividends in seven of Tite’s ten competitive home games as Brazil boss. Furthermore, 10 of Argentina’s 13 games under Scaloni have produced a minimum of two goals, which solidifies the current line as an attractive investment.
Moreover, the price on a Brazil win is another slice of value I’m keen to capitalize on. This is as much as an anti-Argentina angle than a pro-Brazil bet, as I’m not convinced by Scaloni from a tactical viewpoint; some of his in-game decisions throughout this tournament have been utterly bizarre. One that sticks in the mind is the swap of Sergio Agüero for Matías Suárez in the second-half against Colombia. At the time, Scaloni’s side were in desperate need of a goal at 1-0 down with just 10 minutes to play.
There’s also strong trends that further suggest supporting the Seleção is a value play. Odds-on favourites have won five of six Copa semi-finals stretching back to 2007; however taking the straight Brazil win at 10/11 isn’t something I’m going to recommend.
When Brazil triumph, it’s usually handsomely. Under Tite, 14 of their 15 competitive wins have come by a two-goal margin or more. I’m therefore inclined to back the tournament hosts at bulkier 6/5 quotes with a -0.75 Asian Handicap start. This bet will see us profit with a half stakes pay out if Brazil win by a single goal. We’ll earn a full pay out if they go on to record any bigger margin of victory at the Mineirão.