Messi struggling, Nunez firing – Copa America quarter-final guide

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Image caption: Lionel Messi is the third highest scorer in men’s international football history with 106 goals

The Copa America has reached the quarter-final stage and most of the big hitters still remain, with Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay among the teams looking to find a path through the knockout stages.
But the United States, who are hosting the tournament, have been knocked out and it has not been plain sailing for every team.
Some underdogs have also managed to earn a spot in the last eight and will be looking to cause more upsets.

With the quarter-finals on the way, BBC Sport runs you through the stories to look out for in the Americas’ biggest tournament.
Copa America quarter-final fixtures
Friday (02:00 BST): Argentina v Ecuador
Saturday (02:00): Venezuela v Canada
Saturday (23:00): Colombia v Panama
Sunday (02:00): Uruguay v Brazil
Bielsa has got Nunez firing
Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez played a significant part in helping Uruguay achieve a maximum nine points in the group stage and reach the last eight.
He has played in each of their three games, scoring in the 3-1 win against Panama and the 5-0 victory over Bolivia.
Uruguay face tough opponents in Brazil, but are technically strong under former Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa, with Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde impressing.
Uruguay beat the USA to knock them out in the group stage. Can they get past one of the favourites in their next game?
Can Messi shine?
Argentina star Lionel Messi could be playing in his last major tournament but struggled in an injury-hit group stage.
The 36-year-old played in his side’s wins against Canada and Chile but was forced to sit out their game against Peru with a groin issue.
For the first time at a Copa America, Messi has failed to score in the group stage, although he did manage an assist as Argentina beat Canada 2-0 in their opening game.
But Messi has returned to training and the World Cup holders remain firm favourites to go the distance.
Up against Ecuador, whom they beat 1-0 in a friendly in June, Lionel Scaloni’s side will be expected to win.
The big question remains: will Messi finally manage to find his form?
Will Brazil cope without Vinicius Jr?
It has been a frustrating tournament for Brazil – and they will not be helped by Vinicius Jr’s suspension for the quarter-finals.
The five-time World Cup winners were held by Colombia in their final group-stage match and Vinicius was ruled out of their first knockout match after picking up his second yellow card.
Vinicius is Brazil’s top scorer at Copa America, having netted twice, while Real team-mate Rodrygo has struggled in front of goal.
This Brazil team are strong and could have the players to cope with losing Vinicius, but they need to be used. Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli has been stuck on the bench.
Brazil need to step up to the task or risk losing to a Uruguay side who are firing on all cylinders.
Canada showing strength
This is Canada’s debut Copa America in the first regular staging in which teams from outside South America have joined the tournament.
Six of the 16 teams are from the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf).
Managed by another former Leeds boss in Jesse Marsch, Canada – who are hosting the 2026 World Cup alongside the US and Mexico – have done something neighbours the USA have not by reaching the knockouts.
Lille striker Jonathan David is one of their main threats, although Canada struggled for goals in the group stage. David provided their only goal in a 1-0 win against Peru, while they lost 2-0 to Argentina and drew 0-0 with Chile.
Another upset on the cards for Panama?
Panama have been Copa America’s surprise package and exceeded expectations in the group stage.
The beat the USA and Bolivia to finish second in their group and set up a tough quarter-final against Colombia.
Going a step further might be too much to ask of the underdogs. Colombia, who topped their group and drew with Brazil, have Liverpool’s Luis Diaz and former Real midfielder James Rodriguez in their team.
Crystal Palace’s Jefferson Lerma has also played a key role in midfield. They are a talented side and outclass Panama on paper.
Colombia will be expected to win, but a Panama team who have proved their doubters wrong will not make reaching the semi-finals an easy task.

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