Colombia will look to pull off an upset and reach the Copa America final for the first time outside of their country when they take on a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina on Tuesday.

Los Cafeteros have lost their six previous semi-finals at neutral venues in the competition, with their only two final appearances – in 1975 and 2001 – seeing them play at least one game on home soil.

Reinaldo Rueda's side beat Uruguay on penalties in the quarter-finals – David Ospina saving two spot-kicks in the shoot-out – following a goalless draw after 90 minutes.

A tough match with Argentina in Brasilia awaits and Rueda, who was only reappointed by Colombia in January, is happy with the progress made by his side in that short period.

"We played a very collective game against Uruguay, with a lot of solidarity and the right balance," he said. "All this helps us believe that we can continue with our improvements.

"We will continue to demand more and more from ourselves in each session before the next game."

If Colombia are to have any hope of overcoming Argentina, they will need to do something Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile failed to do by keeping Messi quiet.

He leads the Copa America scoring charts with four goals, including a fine free-kick in the quarter-final win over Ecuador, while also providing a competition-high four assists. 

Messi has never previously won a trophy with Argentina, and that remains the superstar forward's main focus ahead of Tuesday's semi-final showdown.

"I've always said that individual prizes are secondary. We're here for something else," he said. "We have an objective and we're focused on that."

Argentina squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Colombia in their most recent meeting just last month, a game that is still fresh in Messi's memory.

"They denied us in a match that we had under control. That's why we can't take this for granted," Messi added. "We have to play our game and keep hold of the ball."

 

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Argentina - Lionel Messi

With his four goals and four assists so far, Messi has been involved in 80 per cent of Argentina's 10 goals at this edition of the Copa America.

He may not be focused on individual honours, but he is now just one short of Brazil great Pele's all-time goals record (77) for a South American country.

Colombia - Juan Cuadrado

The versatile Juventus winger missed his side's quarter-final with Uruguay after picking up two yellow cards in the group stage, but he is back in contention to face Argentina.

While Cuadrado may not have a goal or assist to his name yet this tournament, he remains one of Colombia's most dangerous players and his fresh legs could come in handy.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- Argentina and Colombia will face each other for the third time in the Copa America semi-finals. The first meeting was in 1993, when Argentina won on penalties, and the second one was in 2004 with another win for Argentina. 

- The last time these sides faced each other in the Copa America was in 2019 with a 2-0 win for Colombia.

- Argentina have failed to progress from just one of their last six Copa America semi-finals: against Brazil in 2019 (a 2-0 loss). Argentina have never played a Copa America final on Brazilian soil.

- Colombia are the team with the most recoveries (306), interceptions (74) and fouls conceded (78, alongside Paraguay) in the current Copa America.

Reinaldo Rueda sees plenty of room for improvement from his Colombia team, insisting they can never be ever satisfied.

Colombia, who were due to co-host the Copa America with Argentina before civil unrest in the country prevented it, started with a win over Ecuador before drawing 0-0 with Venezuela in their second match. 

Peru, who were dismantled 4-0 by hosts Brazil last time out, are next up in Group B for Rueda's team.

Colombia dominated against Venezuela, amassing 23 attempts – with eight of them on target – but could not find a way through.

Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez was in excellent form, making eight saves, as Colombia had to settle for a point.

"These games are very close and we were not good in finishing," Rueda said after the match.

"The team had a lot of discipline, a lot of intensity. We are never satisfied, we played a good game. We know that we have a complete team, but we know that we must improve.

"We continue looking for that great collective game. This game gives us great lessons. It continues to strengthen us. Against Peru we are going to face a tough team, with different characteristics."

Recent history is not on Colombia's side, however. They have not won any of their last four Copa America meetings with Peru, having drawn three of those encounters.

Indeed, their last win against Peru in this competition came in 2001, in a match which finished 3-0 to Colombia.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colombia – Juan Cuadrado

In the absence of James Rodriguez, other players have had to step up to fill the creative void for Colombia. Cuadrado gave his all against Venezuela, crafting seven goalscoring opportunities, but his efforts ultimately proved fruitless. However, the Juventus wide man will no doubt be crucial to his team's attacking play once more on Sunday.

Peru – Christian Cueva

Peru still managed to offer some attacking threat in their heavy defeat to Brazil, and Cueva's creativity was on show as he created two chances, drew three fouls and finished with an 89.7 per cent pass completion rate. 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Colombia and Peru have drawn in six of the last eight times they have met in the Copa America. The last two games ended goalless.
- Peru will seek to break a streak of two consecutive defeats in the Copa America. Both defeats were against Brazil (in the final of 2019 and first game of 2021). The last time the Peruvians lost three consecutive games in the competition was in 1956.
- Colombia defender Yerry Mina is the player with the most aerial duels won so far in the tournament (13).
- Peru (118) and Colombia (117) are the second and third teams with the most duels for the ball. Ecuador top the rankings with 130.
- Of these duels, Colombia won 52 per cent, while Peru managed to win 47 per cent.

Chile have announced Reinaldo Rueda's tenure as coach has come to an end following an underwhelming start to World Cup qualification. 

Rueda had been in the post since early 2018, replacing Juan Antonio Pizzi after he failed to lead the team to the 2018 World Cup. 

Chile lost their Copa America crown under Rueda in 2019, having won each of the previous two editions, though they did get to the semi-finals. 

But Rueda's spell in charge has been largely unimpressive, with the team winning just nine of his 27 matches in charge, suffering 10 defeats. 

Rueda leaves Chile having only been able to accumulate four points from as many games at the start of qualification for the 2022 World Cup. 

His final game was the 2-1 defeat away to Venezuela on November 17.

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