Brazil, Uruguay strong in Copa America, Argentina stutters

Uruguay is the Copa America’s most successful team with 15 titles. (AFP)
Updated 25 June 2019
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Brazil, Uruguay strong in Copa America, Argentina stutters

  • Take a closer look at the Copa America quarterfinals this week

SÃO PAULO: The group stage of the Copa America ended with Brazil and Uruguay still the favorites and Argentina still unable to meet expectations.
Colombia also impressed early on, finishing with a perfect record and without conceding any goals, while two-time defending champion Chile stuttered after a good start.
The quarterfinals of the South American competition begin Thursday with host Brazil taking on old foe Paraguay in Porto Alegre, and a day later in Rio de Janeiro it will be Argentina facing a Venezuela team it has struggled against recently.
Also Friday, Colombia plays Chile in São Paulo, and on Saturday Uruguay’s attacking duo of Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani will face Peru in Salvador.
Here’s a closer look at the Copa America quarterfinals this week:
BRAZIL-PARAGUAY
Brazil got off to a slow start, being booed by the local crowd in its first two matches, but the 5-0 rout of Peru eased the pressure on coach Tite and boosted the team’s confidence entering the knockout stage.
Paraguay barely survived the first round, advancing with only two points as one of the best third-place finishers from the three groups. But it played better than the results showed, letting victory escape against Argentina only because of a missed penalty kick in the second half.
Brazil easily beat Paraguay the last time the teams met — in a World Cup qualifier two years ago. But it was Paraguay that eliminated Brazil the last two times the “Seleção” made it to the Copa America quarterfinals, in 2011 and 2015. Paraguay came out on top in penalty shootouts both times.
“It will be a difficult match, we will need to be very focused,” Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho said. “But the team is full of confidence, things are going well for us right now.”
VENEZUELA-ARGENTINA
Argentina would normally be favored against Venezuela, but this time there is reason for concern for Lionel Messi and his teammates.
While Argentina continues to struggle and just escaped elimination in the group stage, Venezuela enters the quarterfinals carrying good momentum.
“We will have to play better against Venezuela,” Messi said. “It’s a team with very clear ideas in attack, with very quick players.”
Venezuela, which held Brazil to a 0-0 draw in the group stage, defeated Argentina 3-1 in a friendly in Madrid in March. It drew its previous two matches with the Argentines, both in qualifying for the last World Cup.
After losing the last two Copa America finals, Argentina remains on a quest to end a 26-year title drought with the senior squad.
COLOMBIA-CHILE
Chile’s title defense will go through a red-hot Colombia, the only team to win all of its matches and not concede any goals.
James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao will be taking on Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas, two of Chile’s leaders in the title-winning campaigns of 2015 and 2016.
The Chileans couldn’t avoid the Colombians because it lost to Uruguay 1-0 in the final group game, when midfielder Arturo Vidal was among those rested by coach Reinaldo Rueda, a Colombian.
Colombia is led by Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz, and is seeking its first South American title since 2001.
URUGUAY-PERU
With Suárez and Cavani thriving, Uruguay will be favored against a Peruvian squad coming off a demoralizing loss to Brazil that prompted a wave of criticism against Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca.
Peru’s defense is the worst among the teams in the quarterfinals, with six goals conceded in three matches. Uruguay has the second-best attack with eight goals, one less than Brazil.
Cavani and Suárez have already scored two goals each for Uruguay, while Peru striker Paolo Guerrero has only one.
Uruguay is the Copa America’s most successful team with 15 titles, one more than Argentina. Uruguay’s last continental title was in 2011.


Amir Khan says agreement made for Manny Pacquiao Riyadh bout in November

Updated 16 July 2019
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Amir Khan says agreement made for Manny Pacquiao Riyadh bout in November

  • The two boxers came close to a fight in 2017, but negotiations fell through
  • The two boxers are known to be good friends and spent years sparring with each in the US

LONDON: British boxer Amir Khan said on Tuesday that a deal has been agreed for a fight against Manny Pacquiao on November 8 in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking at his gym in the British city of Bolton the former world champion said the fight would happen in Riyadh, adding that the bout had been “signed by both parties.”
Pacquiao, 40, has a scheduled fight with American Keith Thurman in Las Vegas on Saturday and, barring any potential rematch, would be available to fight Khan in the Kingdom.
“It’s on, unless he gets injured or he says he is going to retire after the fight and then the fight won’t happen, but he is interested in the fight as well,” Khan told Boxing Social.
The two boxers came close to a fight in 2017, but negotiations fell through and the bout never materialized.

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READ MORE: Amir Khan beats Billy Dib in Jeddah on ‘fight night of the year’

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“It is going to be amazing, because it’s been a long time we’ve been chasing that fight. I’ve been chasing the big names like (Floyd) Mayweather and Pacquiao for a long, long time but those fights never happened.
“But now it has come to a stage where we both signed on that dotted line, so hopefully he is going to be the next (fight).
“To have him sign that dotted line is brilliant and no matter how he does against Thurman, I still think it’s a big fight.
“Hopefully he comes out of it in one piece in his next fight against Keith, which is a hard fight and not an easy one for him, and we will take it from there.”
The British boxer, 32, scored a stoppage win over Australia’s Billy Dib in Saudi Arabia last Friday and soon after his win was talking up the prospect of landing Pacquiao as his next fight.

Eight-division world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao smiles as he arrives for a workout in Hollywood, California on July 10. (AFP/File Photo)

On the prospect of returning to Saudi Arabia, Khan said his experience in the Dib fight had been “amazing” and that it was hard to turn down a deal to fight in the Kingdom.
“I was little bit nervous, because I did not know what to expect — whether it would be full or not, or if people would turn up to support — but it was amazing. I think the next one is going to be even bigger.
“The experience was awesome, I was looked after by the GSA (General Sports Authority) and the Saudi government took good care of us, the gyms were amazing. I would love to go back over there.”
When asked if he ever doubted whether his dream fight against Pacquiao would happen, Khan agreed.
“I’ve waited so long but you cannot really put all your eggs in one basket, and definitely say this is going to be the next fight.

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READ MORE: Gloves off as world champion boxer Amir Khan dreams of ‘more fights in Saudi Arabia’

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“I hope it is him but we will have to look at back up plans. I’ve always wanted to fight him. It’s the biggest fight out there for me,” he told the BBC.
The two boxers are known to be good friends and spent years sparring with each in the US while training under the mentorship of trainer Freddie Roach.
The Filipino legend has not yet officially announced any bout with Khan and on social media appears focused on Saturday’s fight.
“When I sparred him he was at his peak,” Khan said. “I got good rounds with him and did really well. I have probably sparred between 200 and 300 rounds with him. He has slowed down a bit.”
Pacquiao has 61 wins, seven defeats and two draws in a 24-year professional career, while Khan has 34 wins and five defeats.