Fred and Cavani learn Copa America fate
Fred and Edinson Cavani are on a Copa America final collision course, after the draw for the last eight of this summer’s competition was finalised.
Cavani’s penalty for Uruguay, which settled a tight game against Paraguay in the early hours of Tuesday morning, confirmed the Celeste as second-place finishers in Group A, placing them in a different half of the bracket from Brazil.
The host nation strolled through Group B, with Fred starting three out of the four games as they claimed 10 points to finish top of the pool.
Chile, the Selecao’s opposition in the last eight, plus the winner of the Peru v Paraguay tie, now stand between the holders and a 21st final in this tournament.
Cavani and Uruguay, who are aiming to emulate their victory of 10 years ago and extend their tally of wins to 16, will play 2001 champions Colombia in Brasilia.
The winners of that tie could set up a blockbuster clash with Lionel Messi’s Argentina. They take on Ecuador in the last of the quarter-finals, on Sunday.
Messi is the top scorer in the competition with three goals, and Lionel Scaloni’s side will be strong favourites against the Ecuadorians, who are the only remaining side yet to win a game.
Fred and Cavani are both bidding to join a handful of Reds in featuring in the final while with the club.
New signing Gabriel Heinze went up against midfielder Kleberson in the 2004 showdown between Argentina and Brazil.
The Selecao won that game, and the rematch, played in 2007, when Heinze started alongside Carlos Tevez, whose arrival at Old Trafford was imminent.
Argentina also experienced back-to-back defeats in the 2015 and 2016 finals, with Marcos Rojo appearing in both games - he was sent off in the first half of the latter.
Angel Di Maria played in 2015 while still contracted to United, while Sergio Romero was 12 months into his six-year spell when the Albiceleste once again lost on penalties to Chile in 2016.
COPA AMERICA QUARTER-FINALS
Friday 2 July: Peru v Paraguay (22:00 BST)
Saturday 3 July: Brazil v Chile (01:00 BST)
Saturday 3 July: Uruguay v Colombia (23:00 BST)
Sunday 4 July: Argentina v Ecuador (02:00 BST)