Venezuela beat Argentina 3-1 with Lionel Messi featuring in a warm up game back in March. But any concerns of a repeat of such were extinguished on Friday night as La Albiceleste took their pound of flesh with a much-needed 2-0 victory in the quarter final stage of the competition. Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi was rock-solid in defence helping his national team secure a semifinal spot in the tournament.
Otamendi, who has been a source of speculation concerning his future at Manchester City, has been instrumental to his country’s progression in this year’s Copa. With Argentina seeking redemption after losing successive finals to Chile, the team is in need of heroes. Otamendi is one of the players that have stepped up to the plate to make their nation proud.
With the third best rating of any Argentine player by Whoscored in the competition based on performances so far, the former Valencia man is proving invaluable to his national side. Only Lionel Messi and Ever Banega rank higher than the 31-year-old in terms of performance in the competition to this point as far as Argentina is concerned. That is very commendable and a welcome development for both the player and City as he could become a very important player for the club next term in the absence of Vincent Kompany.
For now though, there is a job at hand that needs to be completed as the team faces its biggest hurdle in the competition yet. The quarter final victory over Venezuela has been rewarded with a meeting with arch-rivals Brazil in the semi-finals. The two South American giants will meeting at Belo Horizonte next Tuesday as hosts Brazil seek to lift the trophy on home soil despite missing key man Neymar.
But, keeping the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho at bay will be required if La Albiceleste is to reach another final. Otamendi will be key for the Argentines and must be at his best to get the job done. While recognising the enormity of the task at hand, the City center-back expressed the desire to come out tops in the end.
“Now we are in the semi-finals against an opponent where it is a clasico and we hope it will go in favour of Argentina,” he said when speaking to the media about the match.
The encounter between the bitter rivals will feature City stars on both sides of the divide. Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho alongside reserve goalkeeper Ederson are in the Brazilian side while Sergio Aguero features for the Argentine side alongside Otamendi.
Whichever team carries the day, Man City players are guaranteed to be in the final. If they go on to be crowned champions, it will indeed be an amazing year for those players after the success already achieved in England.