Copa America 2021 semi-final predictions: Messi to lead Argentina to final against Brazil

Hosts Brazil face Peru while Messi set to win 150th cap against Colombia

We're down to the last four teams of Copa America 2021.

We take a look at the semi-final matches.

Final list of teams to qualify for the semi-finals of Copa America 2021

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru

Copa America 2021 semi-final fixtures

All times UAE

Brazil v Peru, 3am

Tuesday, July 6 at Rio de Janeiro

Defending champions Brazil are heavy favourites to go all the way on home soil — not bad for a tournament some of their players didn't even want to play in.

Brazil already know what it is to beat Peru having thrashed their semi-final opponents 4-0 two weeks ago in the group stage.

“It is obvious we are favourites for being at home, but we need to know how to deal with that," Brazil midfielder Fred said at a news conference on Sunday. “Players want to have the match of their lives against Brazil. The last one [beating Chile 1-0 in the quarter-finals] was tough, but the next will be tougher. Peru will be motivated, trying to win, it will be the match of their lives.”

It is a rematch of the 2019 Copa America final, which Brazil, who also hosted that tournament, winning 3-1 before nearly 70,000 fans. This year's semi-final will be played without fans due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both sides are missing key strikers for the match. Brazil's Gabriel Jesus and Peru's Andre Carrillo (against Paraguay) were sent off during the quarter-finals. Brazil's Everton, one of the top scorers at the 2019 Copa America edition, and veteran Christian Cueva are set to take their places.

Peru will look to striker Gianluca Lapadula, replacing all-time top scorer Paolo Guerrero who missed the tournament due to a knee injury.

Brazil will once again count on Neymar, the best player in the tournament so far, who finished the clash against Chile in a state of exhaustion, along with many of his teammates.

Prediction: Brazil book place in final

Argentina v Colombia, 7am

Wednesday, July 7 at Brasilia

Argentina captain Lionel Messi is set to make his 150th appearance for the national team as he seeks his first major success with Argentina, not counting Olympic gold in 2008.

The 34-year-old captain has been in dazzling form at the Copa with four goals and as many assists ahead of the last-four showdown against Colombia at the Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia.

On Saturday he scored one goal and provided two assists in Argentina's 3-0 win against Ecuador in the quarter-finals. It was Messi's first game since his contract with Barcelona expired.

Messi has played a record 149 matches for Argentina. His inspired performances in the last five are being compared to his best days with Barcelona, including his vision on the field, the quality of his passes and two goals from free kicks.

“We have to take it easy, think about Colombia now, they are a tough team with players who are great, experienced, very quick up front, good defenders and fast counterattackers,” Messi said. “We hope to go step-by-step ... and be at this final we crave for.”

Nine Argentina coaches have tried — some more than others — to replicate with Argentina the same Barcelona model that allowed Messi to shine and become the Catalan club's all-time leading scorer.

“This is the best player ever we are talking about,” said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni. “The best that can happen to us soccer lovers is that he plays until ... until the age he can do it, and we enjoy it. Nothing else. Even adversaries enjoy it when he plays.”

Messi seems driven to be at the July 10 final at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, the same stadium where Argentina — and Messi as captain — lost in the 2014 World Cup final to Germany.

Prediction: Messi to steer Argentina to championship game

Updated: July 5th 2021, 4:18 AM