Copa America 2011 Quarterfinals, Chile Vs. Venezuela: Chile Stumble, Lose 2-1

After resting most of their stars against Peru, Chile have a fit and rested side for their 2011 Copa America quarterfinal match against underdogs Venezuela.

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Copa America 2011 Quarterfinals, Chile Vs. Venezuela: Chile Eliminated By Venezuela, 2-1

Copa America just can't see to keep its supposed best teams in the tournament. After an unpredictable group stage full of upsets many thought the knockout stages would see the top teams assert their dominance. Then Colombia lost. Argentina was also eliminated. Brazil was knocked out next. Now Chile gets the boot and for the first time in Copa America history all of the teams that finished top of their group have been eliminated before the semifinals. Venezuela finished the job with their 2-1 win over Chile, going ahead by a goal before things were all but settled when Chile was put down to 10 men.

The first half was almost completely devoid of chances and entertainment. Neither team could string together passes, instead just taking turns giving the ball away. At first it could have been chalked up to being overambitious, but as time went on it become obvious that it was just a matter of sloppy and careless play.

For as bad as the half may have been there was one good moment and it came on Venezuela's goal. With a free kick on the right the underdogs took advantage. A perfect delivery put the ball on the near side for Oswaldo Vicarrondo. The Venezuela defender came across and nodded the ball excellently past the keeper and into the side netting for the opening tally.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime and searching for any sort of spark, Chile finally got it from Humberto Suazo in the second half. They came out firing, but it didn't lead to a goal immediately. They seemed snakebitten as Suazo hit the cross bar. Another shot was excellently saved by Renny Vega, one more chance hit the post and Venezuela even cleared a ball off the line.

Suazo finally broke through in the 69th minute, coming across from the left side of the box to collect a pass right in front, six yards from goal. For reasons unknown, Venezuela didn't close him down so Suazo took his time, turned and fired off the underside of the crossbar and in for the equalizer.

Chile had all the momentum and had dominated play in the second half so it looked like they would go on to win, but Venezuela would not be denied. Claudio Bravo had a cross deflected and bounce hard in front of him, making it difficult to corral. He saw it bounce off his chest and in front where Gabriel Chichero came flying in with a sliding finish on the rebound for the winner.

Two minutes later Gary Medel was show his second yellow card and down to 10 men, Chile were done. Appropriately, Venezuela had prevailed on goals by two defenders. They never showed much up front, but the defended well and took the chances they had. Because of it, they had themselves a 2-1 win and spot in the Copa America semifinals.

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Copa America 2011 Quarterfinals, Chile Vs. Venezuela: Underdog Venezuela Leads 1-0 At Half

The Copa America of upsets looks like it might continue. An unpredictable group stage led to a quarterfinals in which both Argentina and Brazil were eliminated. Now it looks like we may have to add Chile to that list too because halfway through their quarterfinal contest against Venezuela they find themselves trailing 1-0 thanks to a goal by Oswaldo Vicarrondo.

Nobody would call the first half pretty and that's somewhat appropriate. Copa America hasn't been pretty with an abnormal amount of draws, a lack of goals and little of the brilliant passing that highlights that South American game. This match has fit in perfectly with both teams playing a game of giveaway, taking turns losing the ball with overambitious or just sloppy passing.

As poor as the match may be it times, it had one moment of fine play and it led to a goal. On a free kick from the right side, a perfect ball was driven towards the near post. Vicarrondo came flying through and deftly deflected a header past the goalkeeper and into the side netting for the opening tally of the match. It was a beautiful delivery, a superb header and while the first 45 minutes may not impress anyone, the goal was exactly how set plays are drawn up.

Now that Venezuela are a goal to the good, they can play defensive and lean on a back line that has been near perfect not just in this match, but all tournament long. Gabriel Chichero and Roberto Rosales have been rocks at the back and they'll have to continue to be because they'll have Humberto Suazo and Alexis Sanchez flying at them time and time again all second half long.

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Copa America 2011 Quarterfinals, Chile Vs. Venezuela: Lineups

There's only one quarterfinal left at Copa America and that means there is only one semifinal place left up for grabs. It'll be either Chile or Venezuela who grabs it and it will be determined in the next two hours in San Juan. Paraguay defeated Brazil on penalties earlier so the winner of this quarterfinal earns the right to play the Paraguayans for a spot in the Copa America final.

Chile will once again lean on their two dynamic frontmen, Alexis Sanchez and Humberto Suazo, but Arturo Vidal may be the most important player. He has been a force in the midfield this tournament and they'll need more of it today. Venezuela is the surprise team here and the definite underdog, but a good performance by Tomas Rincon and another dominant shift at the back by Gabriel Chichero might be enough to see them through.

Chile (3-4-1-2): Claudio Andrés Bravo; Pablo Contreras, Waldo Ponce, Gonzalo Jara; Carlos Carmona,Arturo Vidal, Gary Medel, Mauricio Isla; Luis Antonio Jiménez; Alexis Sánchez, Humberto Suazo.

Substitutes: Paulo Garcés, Miguel Pinto, Matías Fernández, Gonzalo Fierro, Jorge Valdivia, Jean Beausejour, Rodrigo Javier Millar, Francisco Silva, Marco Estrada, Felipe Gutiérrez, Esteban Paredes, Carlos Munoz.

Venezuela (4-2-3-1): Renny Vicente Vega, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, Grenddy Perozo, Roberto Rosales, Gabriel Cíchero; Franklin Lucena, Tomás Rincón; Juan Fernando Arango, Miku, César González; Giancarlos Maldonado

Subsitutes: Leonardo Morales, Dani Hernandez, José Manuel Rey, José Granados, Alexander González, Luis Seijas, Yoandry Orozco, Giacomo Di Giorgio, Alejandro Moreno, Daniel Arismendi, Jesús Meza, Salomon Rondon.

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Copa America 2011 Quarterfinals, Chile Vs. Venezuela: Preview

Venezuela, much like the Peruvian side that played on Saturday, is not supposed to be here. They're lacking big-name players who play for big clubs in Europe and South America, and their recent record in both Copa America and World Cup qualification is poor. Still, Venezuela has not lost yet in this tournament. They pulled off a dramatic draw in their final group stage game against Paraguay on Wednesday, scoring two goals in the final five minutes to draw 3-3 and finish second in Group B. On Sunday, they will try to do what Peru did to Colombia, and that is advance with a massive upset when they play Chile.

While this Chile side, coached by Claudio Borghi hasn't looked quite as lethal as the one coached by Marcelo Bielsa, the Chileans have also not yet lost in this tournament. Their talent and form make them serious favorites against Venezuela, though that has proven to be basically meaningless so far in this tournament.

One major advantage that Chile will have is that they benched most of their major stars in their final group stage match against Peru. All of Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Matias Fernandez and Mauricio Isla should be completely fit and ready to go hard for 90 minutes.

Chile vs. Venezuela kicks off at 6:15 PM E.T. and can be seen on Univision and Youtube in the USA. For our coverage of Sunday's earlier quarterfinal, check out our Brazil vs. Paraguay StoryStream. For more on the Copa America, check out our 2011 Copa America section for all of our coverage from throughout the tournament. For our coverage of Saturday night's quarterfinals, check out our Colombia vs. Peru and Argentina vs. Uruguay StoryStreams. 

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