Mexico rotated nine of their 11 starters for their final Group C game but did just enough to make sure they came through as group winners and avoided a quarter-final clash with Argentina. A clash with the defending champions isn’t a whole lot easier, however, and it’ll be a tough task for our tournament picks if they are to advance. Chile may have warmed up for this tournament with a string of defeats that continued through their opener but while the injury time penalty that give them a win over Bolivia was generous in the extreme they have been improving from game to game.
These sides drew 3-3 in the group stages last summer but Mexico won a couple of weeks ago when they met in a warm-up friendly and have lost just two of their last 13 meetings with the South Americans. El Tri’s general form has been excellent as well; they are unbeaten in 21 matches since last summer’s Copa, including wins in 10 of their last 11 matches while conceding just twice. Furthermore, they’ve lost just two of 16 games against CONMEBOL nations since 2014, and excluding the 2015 Copa, when they took a reserve side, that record becomes W7-D5-L1. They’ve also lost just one of their last nine games against top-10 ranked sides and have the benefit of both an extra day’s rest and a shorter journey to reach this quarter-final.
Chile have crossed the breadth of the country, from Philadelphia to Santa Clara, and while Mexico were safely through prior to their final group game, for the defending champions it was still in the balance. Chile had lost five of their previous six matches before their wins over Panama and Bolivia, but having conceded in both wins have now gone 10 matches without a clean sheet, with 8/10 having at least three goals. Since 2014, they’ve gone W3-D3-L4 against teams ranked 6th-15th, including W0-D1-L3 when playing away or on neutral soil.
These two sides should combine to produce an entertaining match with their fast passing and high pressing tactics but the extra freshness of the Mexicans should prove crucial. Since 2011 there have been 23 Copa matches where one side had received extra days rest and they’ve gone W12-D8-L3, including a W4-D2-L1 record even when that side was the lower ranked team. Given we don’t have much between the teams in any case, and the extra support El Tri can expect playing in California, Mexico look the value here.
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