Last year’s Copa America finalists Argentina and Chile face-off in their opening fixture of Copa America Centenario 2016 at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Monday evening.
Argentina have 15 Copa America title to their name, one less than record tournament winners Uruguay. They are also the pre-tournament favourites and coming on the back on an excellent run. The Albiceleste are on a 4 match win streak and are unbeaten in their last 6. They had lost just once in their last 9 matches and are the team to beat in this prestigious tournament.
The defending Copa America champions Chile are on a disastrous run of results and they were beaten in each of the two warm-up matches for the preparation of the tournament in USA. The lowest point is their 2-1 loss to the minnows Jamaica, whom they were expected to beat with ease. The La Roja had also lost four of their last five matches with just one win against Venezuela sandwiched between the pair of losses.
Argentina: Team News
Lionel Messi is yet to fully recover from the injury and sources confirmed that he will not start for Argentina in their Copa America Centenario clash against Chile. He will be present in the substitute bench, but not expected to feature at any point in the match. Benfica midfielder Nicolas Gaitan is the expected replacement in Messi’s absence.
Gonzalo Higuain, who scored 36 goals for Napoli this season is expected to start in the attack ahead of Sergio Aguero.
Chile: Team News
Chile head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi has no major injury worries, but there are slight fitness concerns on midfield duo Arturo Vidal and Marcelo Diaz. But both are expected to start in Monday’s encounter.
Alexis Sanchez remains their key figure in attack, after the likes of Eduardo Vargas, Mauricio Pinilla and Fabian Orellana failed to impress in the warm-up matches.
Argentina vs Chile: Predicted Line-ups
Argentina (4-3-3): Romero – Rojo, Funes Mori, Ottamendi, Mercado – Mascherano, Biglia, Banega – Di Maria, Gaitan, Higuain.
Chile (4-2-3-1): Bravo – Mena, Jara, Medel, Isla – Diaz, Vidal – Orellana, Sanchez, Vargas – Pinilla.
Argentina vs Chile: Head-to-Head
Argentina possess an excellent head-to-head record against Chile after winning in 11 of the 19 games played so far. Chile had won in 4, the latest being the final win on penalties last year, while 4 matches end in draws.
The teams met on three occasions in Copa America, Argentina won two of those matches, before the loss in the final last year.
They had met already once this year, on March in the World Cup qualifying fixture, where Chile lost 2-1 at home.
Argentina vs Chile: Prediction
Argentina are the strongest squad in the tournament and will go in as heavy favourites. The lethal form of Gonzalo Higuain must be particularly highlighted, and the likes of Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero are capable of turning a match around on their own.
Chile are looking like an indifferent team under new manager Juan Antonio Pizzi. Their recent results also suggest that they are also at the risk on an early exit if one of Panama or Bolivia can pull off a surprise. The attacking play is particularly a worry, with Alexis Sanchez being the only player who looked lively in the last two fixtures.
But both teams have plenty of quality in their squad, but Chile at the moment are completely switched off. A win for Argentina is the likely outcome on Tuesday and expect them to score at least 2 goals.
Score Prediction: Argentina 2-1 Chile Odds (9.00).
Recommended Bet: Argentina to Win (odds @ 2.20)
Best Bet: HT/FT – Argentina/Argentina (odds 3.60)
Big Money Bet: Angel Di Maria to score and Argentina to win (odds 4.80)
*All Odds from Ladbrokes at the time of composing this article.
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