Chile vs Uruguay | Thursday 25 June | Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos, Santiago | 01:30
The first quarter-final of Copa America 2015 gets underway early Thursday morning with host nation Chile up against holders Uruguay in Santiago. La Celeste boast a better head-to-head record against La Roja having won five of the last twelve encounters with five draws and just two defeats. However, Chile are in red-hot form and with their fanatical home support driving them on, they’ll fancy themselves to oust the champions.
To Win (90mins)
Chile locked up first place in Group A to book their place in the quarter-finals and have arguably been the most entertaining side of the tournament. In their opening game of the competition they overcame the physical battle of Ecuador to win 2-0 in Santiago. Arturo Vidal converted a spot kick before Alexis Sanchez played in Eduardo Vargas to seal the win late in the game. Then came an exhilarating 3-3 draw against Mexico with Vidal and Vargas again scoring the goals. On Friday night, La Roja were in a showboating mood as they annihilated Bolivia 5-0 with Charles Aranguiz netting a brace and Alexis Sanchez finally breaking his duck. It's hard to envision a game in which Chile's attack functions well without Sanchez at his best. Whether he's scoring or setting up chances, everything goes through him for La Roja. Sanchez offers pace, trickery and goals – keeping him quiet will be incredibly difficult. With the talent available to Jorge Sampaoli and their status as hosts, La Roja have set their sights on breaking their drought in this competition and victory over the current holders will see them taken very seriously.
Currently holding more Copa America titles than any other team, defending champions Uruguay qualified as one of the two best third-placed teams along with Colombia. La Celeste secured a narrow 1-0 win over Jamaica in their Group B opener thanks to a close range finish from Cristian Rodriguez, but failed to maintain winning form as they lost 1-0 to Argentina in their second match. In their last group match against Paraguay – a repeat of the 2011 final – La Celeste were held to 1-1 draw when Jose Gimenez’s 29th minute header was cancelled out by Lucas Barrios a minute before the break. The defending champions have struggled to find their rhythm as the tournament has progressed and will need to be at their ultimate best against this fiery Chilean side. Defence is probably their strongest unit with a mix of experience and youth. Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin will be expected to hold the backline together along with his young club teammate Jose Gimenez and experienced wing backs like Maxi Pereira and Alvaro Pereira. In attack, La Celeste will rely on Edinson Cavani to rattle Chile’s defence and score the goals that win the game. Cavani will offer an outlet, will link play with the attacking midfielders and will certainly see chances fall his way...but he’ll also need to be clinical with them this time.
VERDICT: Chile 7/10
Chile are favourites at 7/10 while Uruguay are priced at 38/10. La Roja are unbeaten in the tournament having scored ten times while La Celeste have struggled to convince without the suspended Luis Suarez. It should be a tight affair but with home advantage, Chile are tipped to win.