Brazil star Neymar said he wants to meet Argentina in the 2021 Copa América final, predicting "Brazil will win."
CNN  — 

Brazil won their Copa América semifinal match 1-0 against Peru at the Estádio Nilton Santos in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, taking them through to the final.

The hosts were persistent in the first half, with attempts from both Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and Everton forward Richarlison in the 18th minute. But Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese denied both players, making key saves throughout the match, despite his side’s defeat.

Brazil eventually got on the scoreboard thanks to Lucas Paquetá. Neymar overcame three defenders with some nifty footwork before crossing the ball to his teammate, who found the back of the net in the decisive 34th minute.

Peru pressed for an equalizer in the second half – with Benevento striker Gianluca Lapadula forcing Ederson to make a crucial save in the 49th minute – but despite their efforts, Peru failed to capitalize on any chances.

Pedro Gallese made key saves throughout the match, despite his side's defeat.

‘Brazil will win’

Defending champions Brazil, who beat Peru to lift the trophy in 2019, are looking to win their 10th Copa América title, having played nine finals in the last 14 editions of the competition.

The hosts will go on to face the winner of the second semifinal match on Wednesday between Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Colombia.

“I want Argentina, I am cheering them on,” Neymar said. “I have friends there, and in the final, Brazil will win.”

Both sides last met in a Copa América final in 2007, when Brazil won 3-0 against Argentina with two goals from Júlio Baptista and Dani Alves, and an infamous own goal from former Argentina captain Roberto Ayala.

Brazil celebrate their ticket to the final, where they will meet either Argentina or Colombia on Sunday.

Marred in controversy

South America’s premier football competition has been marred in controversy as hosts Brazil struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic. As of July 5, the country has had over 18.7 million cases, and over 524,400 deaths.

Public support for the competition has been divided, and players have also been vocal, with Argentine superstar Messi expressing concerns early on about contracting the virus while with his national team

Brazilian national team players and staff published a letter on their social media accounts in June criticizing the organization of the tournament but confirming their participation nonetheless.

In June, nine days into the tournament, at least 140 Covid-19 cases were detected among players, members of delegations and service providers, according to Brazil’s health ministry.

With the final scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 11, the draw promises an entertaining match at the iconic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.