Bolivia v Argentina: La Albiceleste target top spot - but does Messi get a rest?

By Sports Desk June 27, 2021

Argentina can clinch top spot in Group A as they aim to maintain their unbeaten run under Lionel Scaloni against a Bolivia side already certain of an early Copa America exit.

The format of the 2021 tournament means just one team from each section misses out on the last eight, though the final matches are still pivotal as nations jostle for positions in the final standings.

Bolivia's exit was confirmed with a 2-0 reverse against Uruguay last time out, another blank in front of goal meaning Cesar Farias' side have managed to score just once in three outings so far.

Argentina have also found it tough going in attack, despite the presence of the talismanic Lionel Messi. Following a 1-1 draw with Chile in their opener, they have recorded back-to-back 1-0 triumphs over Uruguay and Paraguay.

Those results mean head coach Scaloni has not seen his team lose in his previous 16 games. His last defeat in the job came in the previous edition of the Copa America, as they were knocked out by rivals Brazil in the 2019 semi-finals.

A potential rematch appears unlikely until the final this time around, with Brazil winning Group B. Argentina know a victory in Cuiaba will be enough for them to do the same ahead of the quarter-finals.

Scaloni has a decision to make over whether to rest Messi, who has played every minute in the competition so far.

While the Barcelona superstar just recently turned 34, he may want to be involved from the start as he looks to win his 148th international cap, which would move him out of a tie with Javier Mascherano to sit alone at the top of the list for Argentina appearances.

Those in danger of receiving a suspension with another yellow card on Monday are likely to be left out, among them Lautaro Martinez, Leandro Paredes and Giovanni Lo Celso.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Argentina - Alejandro Gomez

'Papu' Gomez arrived late to international football but helped make up for lost time in his previous outing with his first goal in a competitive fixture for Argentina. He struck in the 10th minute against Paraguay, while he also completed 88.2 per cent of his attempted passes in the opposition half before being substituted. Did he do enough to keep his place, though?

Bolivia - Carlos Lampe

Goalkeeper Lampe has been a rare positive for his team at the Copa America, making the most saves per game (eight) among those to have played in two or more fixtures. Even with Argentina potentially resting players, Bolivia's last line of defence may well be busy again as they prepare to say farewell to this year's Copa.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the 10th meeting in the Copa America at a neutral venue, with Argentina never previously losing in such contests (W9 D1). However, Bolivia have won twice when serving as competition hosts, in 1963 and 1979.

- Scaloni is unbeaten in his last 16 managerial games in all competitions, his best run since taking charge of Argentina (W9 D7).

- After five unbeaten games in the Copa America with Venezuela, Cesar Farias has lost the last four; one for Venezuela (semi-final in 2011) and three for Bolivia (all this year).

- Argentina are the team with the most goals scored in the first 15 minutes of their games (two), with all of their goals scored in the first half of games (three, same as Ecuador).

Related items

  • Giannis braced for Durant battle in Bucks-Nets opener: Nobody in this world can slow down KD Giannis braced for Durant battle in Bucks-Nets opener: Nobody in this world can slow down KD

    Giannis Antetokounmpo said "there's nobody in this world that can slow down" Kevin Durant as reigning NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks begin their title defence against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

    All eyes will be on Antetokounmpo and Durant when the two Eastern Conference rivals go head-to-head in Milwaukee on opening night.

    Milwaukee defeated Brooklyn in a seven-game Eastern Conference semi-finals series en route to their first NBA title in 50 years last term.

    As Antetokounmpo and Durant prepare to clash in a battle of the former MVPs, the Bucks superstar called for a team approach in trying to nullify the Nets forward.

    "We have got to do it as a team," Antetokounmpo told reporters. "There's nobody in this world that can slow down KD.

    "One of the best players in the world. Can score the ball from everywhere. We've got to do it as a team. If Khris [Middleton] is going to start on him, if I'm going to start on him, we don't know.

    "But no matter what the assignment is, no matter what the game plan is, what coach tells us to do, we have to also do it."

    In 10 games against the Nets across the regular season and postseason, Antetokounmpo only once scored fewer than 30 points. He averaged 61.5 points/assists/rebounds per 48 minutes and had an effective field-goal percentage of 57.9.

    In three of those games, Durant went over 40 points, with the two-time Finals MVP averaging 58.5 points/assists/rebounds per 48 minutes and posting an effective field-goal percentage of 55.6.

    However, Durant's plus-minus across all meetings with the Bucks was minus 18 compared to plus 26 for Antetokounmpo, perhaps speaking to his lack of support in the postseason.

    The Bucks will raise their 2021 title banner and receive their championship rings prior to tip-off against the star-studded Nets.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo's brother Kostas won the 2020 NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers.

    "I said let me keep it very, very simple," Giannis Antetokounmpo added in reference to the ring design. "I’m not competitive, guys. I said, I want my ring to be bigger than my brother’s.

    "When Kostas, my brother, showed me his ring, it was huge. It was like an airpod case. I said at least, you know, you guys don’t sell us short, give us a big ring also."

  • Allen and Bills denied as Henry's Titans hold on in 34-31 thriller Allen and Bills denied as Henry's Titans hold on in 34-31 thriller

    Derrick Henry came up big in the fourth quarter and the Tennessee Titans thwarted Josh Allen at the death in a thrilling 34-31 NFL victory over the Buffalo Bills.

    Henry scored his third touchdown for the Titans (4-2) with just over three minutes remaining against the AFC East-leading Bills (4-2) on Monday.

    The Titans then held up Bills signal-caller Allen on a fourth-down quarterback sneak in the final seconds to snap Buffalo's four-game winning streak.

    Henry joined Jim Brown (1958) as the only players in NFL history to rush for three-plus touchdowns in a game three times in the first six games of a season, according to Stats Perform.

    Through Week 6, Henry has three games with 125 or more rushing yards and three-plus rushing touchdowns – it is tied for the most such games in a single season in the Super Bowl era.

    After a tense opening quarter – Tyler Bass' field goal for the Bills was the only score – Buffalo and Tennessee traded touchdowns in the second period.

    Henry sparked the Titans with a memorable 76-yard TD run before Allen threw a 14-yard pass to Stefon Diggs just over three minutes later and the see-sawing battle continued – Allen's pass to Cole Beasley cancelled out Ryan Tannehill's (18-of-29 passing for 216 yards and an interception) four-yard run to give the Bills a 20-17 half-time lead.

    Bass' third field goal and Allen's third TD pass (finishing 35 of 47 for 353 yards, three TDs and an interception) to Tommy Sweeney outweighed Henry's touchdown run as the Bills stretched their lead to 31-24 heading into the final period.

    But Tennessee's defence came up big after Henry scored the only TD of the fourth quarter, having watched Randy Bullock convert his 38-yard field goal.

  • MLB playoffs 2021: History-making Red Sox slam way to Astros rout and ALCS lead MLB playoffs 2021: History-making Red Sox slam way to Astros rout and ALCS lead

    The Boston Red Sox made more history as they crushed the Houston Astros 12-3 for a 2-1 lead in the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

    Kyle Schwarber hit another grand slam for the red-hot Red Sox, who are the first MLB team to smash three slams in a playoff series on their way to a Game 3 win on Monday.

    The Red Sox hit two grand slams in their Game 2 demolition of the Astros. According to Stats Perform, Boston are the first team in major league history to have three slams within the first two innings over a two-game span.

    After J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers celebrated slams against the Astros in the second game, Schwarber cleared the bases in the second inning in Boston.

    Martinez and Devers each homered again, while Christian Arroyo also went deep at Fenway Park.

    The Red Sox raced out to another 9-0 lead through three innings before Kyle Tucker's three-run homer got the battered Astros on the board on the road.

    Eduardo Rodriguez, who gave up five hits and struck out seven, had retired the first six batters prior to Tucker's bomb.

    Martinez and Devers extended the Red Sox's lead in the sixth and eighth inning as the latter became the first ever MLB player to hit for the home run cycle (solo, two-run, three-run and grand slam) over his fist four home runs of a single postseason, per Stats Perform.

    The Red Sox got to Jose Urquidy, who allowed six runs and a homer on five hits – walking two – over 1.2 rough innings.

    Game 4 is back at Fenway Park on Tuesday

     

    Braves at Dodgers

    World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers are back on home turf as they host the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), trailing 2-0.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.