Previewing the Copa America semifinals
Copa America 2011 host Argentina and two-time defending champion Brazil -- the heavy co-favorites -- were both knocked out of the tournament in dramatic fashion after losing their quarterfinal matches in penalty shootouts. The 1995 Copa America champion Uruguay, which was given just a 26.4 percent chance of advancing past Argentina, will play Peru in its semifinal game Tuesday and Paraguay, which moves on due to Brazil's inability to convert a single penalty kick, will face Venezuela in the second game Wednesday. Let's take a statistical look at the semifinals.
• With the top three teams entering this year's competition eliminated entering the semifinals, the door has been opened for a team that hasn't won the title in 11 or more years to hoist the cup. Of the four remaining teams, Uruguay has won the most recent title. Entering the tournament, it was given only a 9.4 percent chance of winning the title for the 15th time, which would break its tie with Argentina for the most Copa America titles. The other three semifinalists have a combined four Copa America titles.
• SPI gives Uruguay, ranked eighth in the world, the best chance to win its semifinal match (81.4 percent), as well as to win the final (52.5 percent). La Celeste would likely take over the No. 7 spot in the SPI rankings with a non-shootout win against Peru and could possibly move up to No. 6 if they win the final.
• Peru and Uruguay drew 1-1 in their group stage match. Peru is 2-1-2 against Uruguay in these teams' past five meetings and has been given the worst chance of winning its semifinal game (18.6 percent) as well as capturing the title (6 percent) of the remaining teams. The last time Peru reached the semifinals was in 1997.
• Venezuela had the lowest chance of advancing to the semifinals entering its quarterfinal match with Chile (22.7 percent) and now faces Paraguay in its first ever semifinal appearance at the tournament. Paraguay has two Copa America titles, the last being a 3-0 defeat of Chile in 1979, whereas Venezuela has never finished better than fifth place in the competition, which it did in 1967. Venezuela has won two games so far in this year's event, tying its record for the 14 total previous Copa America tournaments it has participated in.
• Paraguay is the only team to advance from the group stage of this year's tournament without having won a game, finishing third in Group B behind Brazil and Venezuela and now has the second-best chance of advancing to the final (64.1 percent). In its group stage match with Venezuela, Paraguay relinquished its two-goal lead when it allowed two late tallies in the final two minutes of regulation and finished the game with a 3-3 draw.