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How Barça’s players fared in the 2016 Copa América group stage

Despite playing just 75 total minutes in Argentia's first three games, Lionel Messi was the star of the group stage. / FIFA.COM
Three of the four current Blaugrana players competing are still alive, including Messi, Mascherano, and Bravo

Of the four FC Barcelona players who have seen action in this summer’s Copa America Centenario, three of them are still alive as the prestigious tournament heads into the knockout phase. If you love to bet, you can find all football betting options at one place – William Hill.

Claudio Bravo of Chile, and Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano of Argentina have made it out of Group D and into the quarterfinals.

A meeting in the final is possible, where fans in the United States would be treated to a rematch of last years’ title game.

Luis Suárez was on Uruguay’s roster, but did not play a single minute due to injury. Uruguay was knocked out early after losing their first two games.

Dani Alves, who recently announced he was moving on after eight seasons defending the Blaugrana shirt, was also given an early exit, as Brazil were sent packing after receiving the shock of the tournament, losing to Peru in their third game.

Here’s a closer look at what each current Barça player did in the group stage:

Leo Messi

The Barça striker scored three goals — all in the same game — to lead Argentina to three wins in three tries. He played just 75 minutes total, as La Albiceleste beat Chile, 2–1; Panama, 5–0; and Bolivia, 3–0. A hat trick, a double nutmeg, and a near goal on a free kick were the highlights.

Javier Mascherano

The defensive midfielder was the backbone of the Argentina national team in their first two games – which he started – although he did not play against Bolivia.

Claudio Bravo

The FC Barcelona goalkeeper, and captain of the defending Copa América champions, started and played all 90 minutes of Chile’s three games in Group D. After falling to Messi and Argentina, Chile rebounded to beat Bolivia, 2–1, and Panama, 4–2.

Luis Suárez

The 2015/16 Golden Shoe winner spent the weeks prior to the Copa América recovering from a hamstring injury he sustained in Barça’s Copa del Rey final win in mid-May.

Nevertheless, he was not ready for Uruguay’s first two games, a pair of 1–0 losses to Mexico and Venezuela. With Uruguay mathematically eliminated, Suárez also sat out the team’s 3–0 win over Jamaica.

Argentina, Chile win; Copa América quarterfinal bracket set

Lionel Messi and Argentina are through to the knockout rounds at the Copa América Centenario. / FIFA
Messi and Bravo play, Mascherano sits, as both teams cruise into the quarterfinals

A trio of FC Barcelona stars were once again in action on the same day at the 2016 Copa América.

But this time, instead of going toe-to-toe, as they did on June 6 in Santa Clara, Argentina and Chile, who were last year’s finalists, were playing on opposite sides of the country.

Argentina beat Bolivia, 3–0, at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington. Lionel Messi did not start, but he came in for Gonzalo Higuaín in the second half and was held scoreless while managing a pair of shots on goal. Javier Mascherano, however, did not play.

Around the same time the Argentina–Bolivia game was kicking off, some 2,800 miles away (4,500km) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chile was putting the finishing touches on their 4–2 win over Panama.

FC Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo played all 90 minutes for Chile and turned in a clean sheet. Bravo made two saves and completed 32 of 35 pass attempts (91%).

Both teams have made it out of Group D and into the quarterfinals.

Argentina, which won Group D with 9 points after going a perfect three-for-three — including a head-to-head win over Chile —  will face Group C runners-up Venezuela in the quarterfinals. That game kicks off at 7.00pm ET on June 18 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Chile’s last eight match pits them against Group C winners Mexico, also on June 18. That game will kick off at 10.00pm ET at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Andrés Iniesta, the MVP king

Iniesta MVP
The FC Barcelona captain was named the best player on the pitch in Spain’s Euro 2016 opener against Czech Republic, winning the prize in five different competitions

Despite now being one of the veterans of the squad, Andrés Iniesta’s influence remains as strong as ever, as demonstrated with another glowing display in Spain’s Group D opener against Czech Republic on Monday.

The FC Barcelona captain curled in an inch-perfect cross for club colleague Gerard Pique to head home from close range with just three minutes remaining, handing Spain a vital three points.

As well as the assist, Iniesta was the most influential player on the park, conducting the pace of the game from midfield and keeping the Czech side constantly on their toes. As a result of his performance, the 32-year-old was given the man-of-the-match award by UEFA, a prize which has become somewhat common for the midfield maestro.

Iniesta was voted the MVP of the recent Copa del Rey final win over Sevilla and has previously won the award in the Champions League and the European Super Cup at club level.

His most memorable MVP awards for Barça are the one in the European Super Cup against Porto in 2011, the Champions League final in Berlin last year, and this season’s Copa del Rey final.

On the international stage, Iniesta was voted MVP in the World Cup, in the final no less, where he scored the game’s only goal against the Netherlands in 2010 to land Spain the trophy. And two years later, in the Euro 2012 final against Italy, he was again the standout player on the field.

One month since FC Barcelona clinched Liga title

The Barça trident during the league champions' parade / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
We look back at a memorable day when a hat-trick from Golden Shoe winner Luis Suárez sparked jubilance among the team and its supporters around the world

On May 14, Barça clinched the Liga title at Granada. One month later, this is the perfect time to remember a perfect day.

Luis Enrique came into the final match with a one-point lead on Real Madrid. Atlético Madrid, meanwhile, had lost all hope of challenging for the title after going down 2-1 at Levante the week before.

A win against Granada would have secured the title regardless of events at Riazor, where Madrid did indeed win their game.

And Barça were in full control of affairs in Andalusia. Luis Suárez put the Blaugrana ahead after 21 minutes and had extended the lead before the half-time whistle had blown.

The Uruguayan eventually made absolute certain of the title, and the Golden Shoe, with a third goal with five minutes to go.

After celebrations both on the pitch and in the dressing rooms, the party shifted to the city of Barcelona. The joy was especially intense after a season in which the title quest had looked done and dusted, but a series of adverse results in April suddenly put matters in considerable doubt.

But Barça regrouped in time and won their last five games without conceding a goal to take the domestic title for the second year in a row and the sixth time in the last eight seasons.

The final of the Copa del Rey was just a week later, but there was still time to celebrate the league triumph. The players paraded through the city on an open-top bus before switching their attentions to the cup final against Sevilla, where they would complete a famous double with an extra time win.

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Luis Suárez's Uruguay bow out of Copa America with 3-0 defeat of Jamaica

Luis Suárez in training prior to the game with Jamaica / AUF
FC Barcelona striker unable to feature in any of his country’s three games and leaves US dwelling on what might have been

Uruguay won their final match in Group C of the Copa America Centenario, 3-0 against Jamaica in Santa Clara with goals from Abel Hernández, Je-Vaughn Watson (own goal) and Mathias Corujo.

But it was too little, too late from the side that has won this trophy more than any other nation. They already knew before the game that they had no hope of progressing to the last eight after defeats to the two sides that do qualify: Mexico and Venezuela.

Once again, Barça striker Luis Suárez watched events unfold from the bench, and will be leaving the United States dwelling on what might have been had he not been carrying an injury sustained in the Copa de Rey final against Sevilla.

Peru hand defeat to Brazil

Uruguay was not the only major casualty of the biggest Copa America ever, which for the first time includes sixteen nations. Brazil, with former Barça man Dani Alves in the squad but Neymar Jr and Rafinha absent, have also packed their bags.

A Peruvian goal scored with the hand meant they bowed out in controversial fashion, but that did not disguise the fact USA 2016 did not see Brazil play anything like the level of football usually expected of the ‘canarinha’.

The teams that did qualify from Group B are Peru, who will now play Colombia in East Rutherford, and Ecuador who travel to Seattle to play the host nation.

Chile seeking to follow Argentina into quarters

With Uruguay and Brazil out of the picture, things are looking better than ever for Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano’s Argentina, who have looked very solid indeed with two wins out of two, including a Messi hat-trick in the 5-0 rout of Panama.

That is already enough to ensure a place in the last eight for the ‘albiceleste’, and a draw with Bolivia in their final group game tonight (CenturyLink Field, Seattle at EDT 10.00pm) would secure top spot and a game against Venezuela at Foxborough on June 18.

As long as they can avoid defeat to Panama in the game immediately before (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia at 8.00pm EDT), then Claudio Bravo and Chile will also progress from Group D.

Unless they can oust Argentina from top spot, which is looking somewhat unlikely, a qualified Chile would face a tricky quarter-final against a Mexico side that is going to enjoy so much support at the Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara that it will effectively be a home fixture for them.

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