It all comes down to this in Group A tonight in the Copa America 2016, as three teams battle for one spot in the quarterfinals. One would think this should make for an interesting night!
Here's what to watch for tonight in the Copa:
U.S. vs. Paraguay, 4 pm PT, FS1, Univision, UDN
The mission is simple for the U.S. Men's National Team -- beat Paraguay, and they move on to the knockout stage. While Paraguay will likely be tough to break down defensively, something the U.S. have struggled to overcome at times in recent memory, Paraguay are a team that have little confidence and very little in the way of attacking intent. It is not an exclusively CONCACAF trait to play tight and pray that a goal will come from somewhere, but Paraguay's style of play so resembles most of the Central American sides that maybe that will give the U.S. some familiarity with this boring brand of soccer.
Frankly, Paraguay seem like a worse team than Costa Rica, and the U.S. just blew Costa Rica away 4-0. But pride goes before a fall, and we've seen crises overtaken by good results which then bleed back into bad results for the Americans. It seems like they have their destiny at their feet, literally and figuratively, and if they can get the win, their first objective in this tournament will be realized.
Of course, Paraguay themselves could move on, as long as they win and Costa Rica don't beat Colombia by enough goals to overtake Paraguay in goal difference. So they will have to go for goal at some point, and if they get the upset, a blah group stage will suddenly become pretty great in hindsight.
Colombia vs. Costa Rica, 6 pm PT, FS2, Univision, UDN
Colombia are already guaranteed passage to the knockout stage, and the only real motivation here will be to ensure they win the group. Against them is Costa Rica, on the outside looking in but with a win and a loss by the U.S. (or if they overcome their goal difference deficit with a win in the event of a U.S.-Paraguay draw), they still have hope of moving on, too.
Truthfully, unless Jose Pekerman picks an entirely end-of-the-bench lineup and those players decide not to take advantage of their playing time to try and impress him, Colombia seem like firm favorites here to get a draw at the very least.
And just because Costa Rica lost so comprehensively in their last game doesn't mean they can't bounce back -- but it's not a good omen, that much is certain. Still given the fact that they have a shot to move on, you'd expect them to give it all they've got, and see if they can't beat the likely Group A winner.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!