vs. Location: Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto (Estádio Mineirão), Belo Horizonte Brazil roster: Goleiros Alisson (Roma-ITA) Cássio (Corinthians) Ederson (Manchester City-ING) Laterais Daniel Alves (PSG-FRA) Filipe Luís (Atlético de Madri-ESP) Alex Sandro (Juventus-ITA) Fágner (Corinthians) Zagueiros Miranda (Inter de Milão-ITA) Marquinhos (PSG-FRA) Thiago Silva (PSG-FRA) Éder Militão (Porto-POR) Meio-campistas Arthur (Grêmio) Allan (Napoli-ITA) Lucas Paquetá (Milan-ITA) Casemiro (Real Madrid-ESP) Fernandinho (Manchester City-ING) Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool-ING) Willian (Chelsea-ING) Atacantes Richarlison (PSG-FRA) Roberto Firmino (Liverpool-ING) Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City-ING) David Neres (Ajax-HOL) Everton (Grêmio) Having overcome the quarterfinal “jinx” of 2011 and 2015 with a hard-fought battle against the gritty Paraguayans, which resulted in a dramatic penalty kick shootout triumph, Brazil reaches the final four of the Copa América for the first time since 2007. Unbeaten in 4 Copa América 2019 matches, Brazil faces an old adversary who like Brazil has made its mark in international competitions, but which finds itself in a drastically different situation. Argentina reached the 2018 World Cup “aos trancos e barrancos,” a Brazilian way of saying “by the skin of their teeth.” In Russia, the Argentines floundered in the group stage with 1 draw, 1 loss, and 1 win – the exact same scenario it had the current tournament’s group stage. Unlike Brazil, Argentina did not properly rebuild in the 2014-2018 interim, and since the last World Cup, Argentina has struggled to transition to the next cycle, with a number of veterans leaving the roster and no established manager accepting the job. Lionel Scaloni took his team to the semifinals with a scrappy 2-0 victory over the surging Venezuelans, but his team today is reminiscent of the 2018 World Cup team: strong offense but a limited midfield and a very questionable back line. Brazil will have Casemiro back to add muscle to the midfield, which should definitely be a plus for this fixture. Argentina’s rear line and midfield have been quite lacking in this tournament, and with either Allan or Arthur deployed alongside Casemiro, Argentina is likely to be hard-pressed to foul the Brazilian midfield. Yellow cards would only put pressure on the visitors. For Brazil, while this rivalry is bitter and deep, the significance of this match is not just another chapter in a more than 100-year-old series of confrontations. Brazil seeks redemption from both 2014 and 2018; the former, because the title was not won at home; the latter, because Brazil was better prepared than it was in 2014 and morale was very high following a stellar WCQ campaign. Thus, while Scaloni is learning the ropes and likely to lose his job after this tournament, Tite needs the title to recover the political capital he built during WCQ and partially lost at Belgium’s hands. Bragging rights and trash talk are inseparable from any Brazil vs. Argentina fixture, all the more one in a knockout round, but the context within which both teams meet on this occasion must not be ignored. A sub-plot of this story is Everton vs. Armani. In 2018. Everton, playing for Grêmio, went on a counterattack and all but alone failed to score against the River Plate goalkeeper. Had the goal happened, Grêmio would have had a 2-0 lead over River and a 3-0 global score, all but assuring Grêmio’s spot in the final of the 2018 Libertadores. Club and country are different and distinct, but it’s inevitable that match and that play will be remembered by many. Brazil and Argentina have played Copa América matches on Brazilian soil six times, dating back to the 1919 South American Championship (the first held in Brazil), and Brazil is unbeaten vs. Argentina with 5 wins and 1 draw (0-0 on September 14, 1983). In 3 of the 4 times Brazil hosted and won the tournament, Brazil faced and defeated Argentina: 3-1, 5/18/1919 2-0, 10/15/1922 2-0, 7/12/1989 This last match is well-remembered not only because Brazil defeated Argentina en route to the title, but because it pitted two of the most iconic players of their time: Romário and Maradona. Romário, in one unforgettable play, passed the football between Maradona’s legs. Argentina was the defending World Cup champion, with 6 of the starters from the final vs. West Germany starting vs. Brazil at the Maracanã (Pumpido, Brown, Ruggeri, Batista, Burruchaga, and Maradona). In contrast, Brazil’s roster for the tournament boasted 7 players (Taffarel, Mazinho, Branco, Bebeto, Romário, Aldair, and Dunga) who 5 years lifted another trophy: the World Cup. A peculiar statistic in this confrontation is that Argentina has not defeated Brazil in Copa América competition in regulation since 1991, when Argentina won 3-2. Since then it has either been a victory for Brazil or draws followed by PK shootouts; and, it was exactly on PKs since Argentina last bested Brazil in Copa América play (in 1993’s quarterfinals). Since then, Brazil eliminated Argentina on PKs (1995), won 2-1 in the 1999 quarterfinals, and beat Argentina for the title in 2004 (PKs) and in 2007 (3-0). The following was the starting XI deployed by Lionel Scaloni for his team’s quarterfinal win vs. Venezuela: Armani; Foyth, Pezzella, Otamendi, and Tagliafico; Paredes, Acuña, and De Paul; Messi; Agüero and Lautaro Martínez.