Messi, Argentina favorite to win Copa America Centenario Tournament

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Lionel Messi ought to be motivated heading into the last four of the Copa America Centenario, since the world’s greatest soccer player has his first chance to win a major international trophy with Argentina as the betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Argentina, which has outscored their four opponents 14-2 ahead of Tuesday’s game, plays the upstart United States in the semifinal at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Argentines are listed at -175 on the tournament champion board, with the United States listed as the +800 long shot. Chile and Colombia, who meet in the second semifinal on Wednesday at Soldier Field in Chicago, have odds of +325 and +500.

For Tuesday’s semi, Argentina is the heavy -220 favorite, with the underdog United States at +650 and a draw at +330. They are 6-2-2 all-time against the Americans, and Messi will be complemented by other threats such as striker Sergio Aguero of Manchester City. It is a safe assumption that Argentina will control the possession time.

The wild card will be the stout back line that the United States has built under coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Like many North American or northern European teams, they have a size advantage that can keep skilled opponents from completing plays in the 18-yard box. The likes of D John Brooks and D Geoff Cameron will pose an obstacle to Messi, which will assist in the Americans’ effort to stretch out the scoreless portion of the match, and perhaps force Argentina to go to extra time or penalty kicks.

Meanwhile, Chile is listed as a slight +150 favorite to prevail on Wednesday, with Colombia at +195 and a draw at +215.

Chile is minus a critical element, since MF Arturo Vidal, of Bayern Munich, is suspended for accumulating too many yellow cards. Lacking Vidal will affect Chile somewhat, but the world’s fifth-ranked team isn’t exactly lacking for depth. Bettors should try not to fixate on how good Chile looked during their 7-0 quarter-final win against Mexico, since margin of victory in the previous game is not necessarily predictive.

Colombia, conversely, prevailed against Peru in their quarter-final after a penalty shootout. Colombia’s lineup has been in flux throughout the tournament, and it has not won outright in either of its past two games. Striker Carlos Bacca, of AC Milan, has said he will play in spite of an ankle injury. In David Ospino, Colombia also has one of the best goalkeepers still active in the tournament.

The Copa America final is on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.