Colombia v Qatar – Morumbi at 22:30 GMT +1 live at Premier Sports
Colombia kicked-off their Copa America campaign with an excellent 2-0 triumph over Argentina to take a stranglehold of Group B. Under their canny new coach Carlos Queiroz, Los Cafeteros packed the midfield in the first-half, stifling and suffocating their opponents play with Juan Cuadrado often shifting in-field.
That tactical switch allowed Colombia to outnumber Argentina in the centre of the park, as well as allowing the outstanding Wilmar Barrios to keep a watching brief on Lionel Messi. The move forced Argentina to make their own tweaks at the interval, alterations that would eventually play into Queiroz’s hands.
Argentina attempted to shift further up the field in the second-half, and found more joy with penetrative passing. However, their more attack-minded approach left the pre-match favourites vulnerable and it became easier for Colombia to catch their less-than-impressive defence in open space.
Los Cafeteros scored twice when breaking with switches of play to the left-hand side with James Rodriguez, Roger Martinez, Jefferson Lerma and Duvan Zapata all enjoying the extra freedom. Although Argentina created the more chances, Colombia were certainly the more intelligent and took their opportunities.
Qatar impress when pinching a point
Copa America debutants Qatar gained plenty of plaudits for their efforts and application when picking up a much-deserved point against Paraguay in their opening encounter. The Asian Cup champions made an atrocious start but came from two goals down but caused their opponents plenty of problems.
Felix Sanchez’s troops have now notched 21 times in their past eight competitive contests, although it’s worth noting that 10 of those goals came when swiping North Korea and UAE aside en-route to continental glory.
The Arab nation’s cohesive unit and system played a key role against Paraguay and the underdogs might not enjoy quite so much freedom when they take on Colombia having fallen to a convincing 2-0 defeat to Brazil in their penultimate pre-tournament friendly, landing a sole effort on-target.
The betting angle
Colombia’s pressing game came to the fore against Argentina and should Los Cafeteros repeat that approach here, they should have some joy. The South Americans physicality is also an advantage, whilst Queiroz’s men aren’t short on speed either and so will be confident of keeping Qatar’s stars in-check.
Colombia arrive in great form, registering six wins from seven matches since October, as well as silencing four of five opponents since their current boss took charge. Considering Los Cafeteros have kept clean sheets in 13 of their last 17 victories, a similar outcome could be on the cards.
But the more appealing play is to support Colombia with a -1.25 Asian Handicap hurdle, knowing we’ll only lose half of our stake if the jollies only manage a win by a solitary strike on Wednesday night.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Colombia -1.25 at 1.820
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.