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Venezuela vs Canada: Underdog battle in Arlington

A place in the 2024 Copa America semi-finals is up for grabs as Venezuela and Canada go head-to-head at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Venezuela went to great lengths to secure their first Copa America knockout appearance since 2019 despite being given slim chances of achieving progression.

La Vinotinto not only beat Mexico, Jamaica and Ecuador to a top-table finish in Group B, but they defied the odds by winning all three group-stage fixtures.

Fresh off winning three consecutive games at the tournament for the first time in the nation’s history, Fernando Batista’s charges head into proceedings in high spirits.

They enter this quarter-final tie as the favourites and are seeking to reach the semis for the first time since finishing fourth in 2011.

However, Canada deserve the benefit of the doubt after securing a runner-up finish in a highly competitive Group A behind reigning holders Argentina.

Ex-Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch, who took charge of the Canucks in May, weathered an early storm to inspire them to an unlikely quarter-final qualification in their maiden tournament appearance.

After a 2-0 loss to Lionel Scaloni’s side in their curtain-raising fixture, Canada stunned Peru 1-0 and held Chile to a scoreless draw to set up this tie against all expectations.

Second-half specialists

Venezuela were tagged as CONMEBOL minnows entering this summer’s competition, but their group-phase showings have instilled confidence among its fans.

The perennial underachievers delivered superb performances in the opening stage, starting with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory against a more heavily fancied Ecuador in their Group B opener.

Afterwards, they squeaked past Mexico 1-0, largely thanks to a late penalty save from Universidad Catolica goalkeeper Rafael Romo, before thrashing Jamaica 3-0.

Searching for a third successive clean sheet, Batista’s men face an opposition they only met twice, most recently in a friendly in 2010.

Both previous meetings between Venezuela and Canada have produced scoring draws, suggesting another shutout is anything but a foregone conclusion.

The Venezuelans may need to be patient again, considering all six goals they scored in the group stage were netted beyond half-time.

Hard-to-break debutants

Paired with former Copa America winners Chile and Peru and defending champions Argentina, Canada had to beat the odds to land a knockout berth.

Things didn’t look healthy for Marsch’s side following a dismal defeat to La Albiceleste on day one, yet their defensive solidity earned them a place in the quarter-finals.

Despite only scoring once, the Canucks remarkably finished second in Group A, becoming the first Copa America debutants to squeeze into the knockouts in 20 years.

Marsh has based his team’s success on a stubborn backline, with Canada racking up three clean sheets in their last four games, including a goalless draw against France in a warm-up contest earlier in June.

But Marsch’s early tenure has been far from perfect.

Except for Jonathan David’s second-half winner against Chile, the Canadians have failed to get on the scoresheet in all four remaining internationals under the American coach.

Venezuela vs Canada potential line-ups

Venezuela (4-2-3-1): Rafael Romo; Jon Aramburu, Nahuel Ferraresi, Yordan Osorio, Miguel Navarro; Jose Martinez, Yangel Herrera; Eduard Bello, Cristian Casseres, Yeferson Soteldo; Salomon Rondon.

Canada (4-2-3-1): Maxime Crepeau; Alistair Johnston, Moise Bombito, Derek Cornelius, Alphonso Davies; Ismael Kone, Stephen Eustaquio; Ali Ahmed, Jonathan David, Richie Laryea; Cyle Larin.


With both sides yet to score before half-time in the United States, another cagey contest could be in store.

Venezuela’s scoring exploits give them a better chance of progressing into the semis, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they achieve that feat in regulation time.

It will likely be a single-goal margin win for La Vinotinto.

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