First off let me offer my most sincere apologies for the fact this summary is not only late but that I also neglected to post a group games round 3 summary. Truthfully, the Rafa news arrived the day I was due to write it and I, like the 7 of you who read this, was devastated. Rafa’s departure took up all my spare time so not only have we lost the best manager the Club has had in my lifetime, I’ve also had half of a tournament I love ruined by the sentient doner kebab that is Mike Ashley.

Anyway, here’s a review of the Copa quarter finals which threw up only the one surprise result.

Miguel Almirón’s Paraguay faced a Brazil side not only with home advantage but also with their confidence at peak levels following their 5-0 destruction of Peru in their final group match. Miggy’s Paraguay has scraped through on only 2 points thanks to a late Ecuador equaliser against Japan.

The fact that the Paraguayan’s took the host nation to penalties is testament to the sheer determination of their players. Brazil battered them, even more so when West Ham’s Balbuena was sent-off early in the second half. The match finished 0-0 and went straight to penalties after 90 minutes. Miggy scored his but 2 of his team mates didn’t. Gabriel Jesus hit the winning spot-kick which sent his side through.

Paraguay, despite not winning a game at the tournament (again) can take heart from their performances. They can start the qualifiers for Qatar 2022 with the belief they can get there and in our very own Almirón they have a player who ought to be seen at a World Cup. The chances of him still being a United player at that point are relatively slim I imagine. Cheers Mike.

Brazil’s opponents in the semi-finals will be Argentina after La Albiceleste recorded a surprisingly comfortable 2-0 victory over Salo Rondón’s Venezuela. Argentina had been fairly miserable leading into this game and Venezuela had been very effective. My standard tip for an upset backfired as Leo Messi and Sergio Agüero, despite not scoring, really fancied it. Venezuela had the bulk of possession but we all know what possession is, right? The ref didn’t help the flow of the game as he pretty much defaulted to VAR for EVERY SINGLE DECISION. The impact of VAR so far at this tournament has been to ensure that every single referee is now racked with self-doubt.

If Argentina continue against Brazil how they left off here then it could make for a cracking match.

Chile and Colombia played out a 0-0 in another match decided by penalties. Naturally, as I had tipped Chile to potentially exit at the group stage, they made it through to the semi-finals. Chile deserved it having dominated the game. They had 2 goals ruled-out (hi, VAR) and pretty much bossed it with the old guard of Vidal and Medel once again stifling the creativity of an opposing side. Although, to be fair, I can’t imagine it’s too long before Quieroz has the Colombian players stifling themselves once his methods fully drown out what was built-up by Pekerman during his 6 years in charge.

The Chileans will face Peru in the semis. It’s the Pisco derby! Both countries lay claim to being the progenitor of this strong alcoholic drink which, given its taste, is like the denizens of Gateshead and Newcastle arguing over who invented Ace Lager. The rivalry between the 2 sides on the pitch has heated up in recent years with stories of Chilean players vandalising Peruvian dressing rooms and leaving messages demanding respect, to Peruvian players directing obscene chants towards Chile on qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. The matches are usually dirty so it’s one to look forward to. Peru, despite losing 5-0 to Brazil, performed remarkably well against the side I’d picked to win the damn thing, Uruguay. Two Uruguayan goals were disallowed and in a penalty shoot-out which finished 5-4 to Peru it was Luis Suarez who saw his penalty saved. Let’s hope the next 2 games produce goals as, to be honest, the QFs were so, so dull.

Brazil v Argentina 0130 BST Wednesday

Chile v Peru 0130 BST Thursday

Norman Riley