Chile tactics will ask a lot of the Socceroos

April 16, 2014

“In the final of the 2004 Copa America in Peru, Argentina dominated an experimental Brazil side. With three minutes to go La Albiceleste went 2-1 up. Surely the title was won. But with the last kick of the game, Brazil scored the equaliser. Argentina blundered into the penalty shootout with the air of men who had been blinded by the light, and Brazil kept its nerve to lift the trophy.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


Ronaldinho’s time looks to have passed

May 20, 2013

“Is this the end? Has the door slammed shut on Ronaldinho’s chance of redemption? That must surely be the likely conclusion of Brazil’s Confederations Cup call up. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari read out his 23 names. When he had got to the end and the assembled journalists realised that Ronaldinho had not been included, the room became a hornets’ nest of buzzing voices, as excited radio reporters reached for their microphones to spread the news. They had every right – it is important news. For some nations the Confederations Cup might be a collection of friendlies with a trophy at the end – but not for Brazil. There is too much at stake. As 2014 World Cup host it has suffered from a lack of competitive games, and ever since the last World Cup neither results nor performances have been convincing.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


Making History In the Copa Libertadores Final

June 26, 2012


Independiente with the 1975 Copa Libertadores trophy
“This year’s Copa Libertadores final, between Boca Juniors and Corinthians, is a truly heavyweight clash. On and off the pitch, the two combatants are giants of South American football. They are both current national champions and hold 28 league titles and four national cup titles between them. They are the most popular clubs in their respective megacities, beloved for their working-class roots, and count their supporters in the tens of millions.” In Bed With Maradona

Corinthians close in on Libertadores dream
“Some 20 years ago, Corinthians director Luis Paulo Rosenberg made a promise to himself. He said, ‘[When we win the Copa Libertadores] I want to buy a bottle of cachaca (the local moonshine), drink it all myself and sleep in the gutter, drunk.’ He has never been closer to buying that bottle. In the 53rd version of the South America’s Champions League, the Brazilian giants have made it through to the final at last. They are two games away from lifting the trophy – the final is played on a home and away basis with the first match on 27 June and the return leg on 4 July.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Lionel Messi hat-trick leads Argentina to 4-3 win over Brazil

June 12, 2012

“The summer friendly has become a familiar genre for American fans, but this felt different. For one thing, Brazil and Argentina are perhaps the only teams in the world able to draw more than 80,000 people in the same time slot as Germany-Portugal — a European Championship game that actually matters. For another, it provided another chance to compare Neymar and Lionel Messi, excellent players in their own right and proxies in the cold war between Pele and Diego Maradona.” Guardian

4-4-2 G4M3 TH3ORY 4-3-2-1 4-2-2-2 3-4-1-2
“Brazil finds itself in an awkward position. After a desperately disappointing quarterfinal exit in the 2011 Copa América, the Seleçao has three years to put it right with only the Olympic Games this year and the Confederations Cup next in the way of ‘proper’ matches. (Even then, the Olympic Games allow only three players over the age of 23, and the quality of opposition in the Confederations Cup is questionable, as the major nations seem unsure of the tournament’s importance.) Other teams may complain about qualifiers, but they do at least offer an opportunity for competitive games.” Howler – Jonathan Wilson


Juan Román Riquelme and Boca have the final word – just for a change

May 25, 2012

“Juan Román Riquelme never changes. He is the eternal question at the heart of Argentinian football, the solemn-faced representative of a romanticised former age constantly rebuking the present for not being quite as graceful, quite as thoughtful, as he is.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


End of the road for Ronaldinho’s Flamengo

April 16, 2012

“While Europe’s Champions League is down to the last four, the South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores, is whittling down its field to the 16 teams who will go into the knockout phase. Twelve places have so far been filled, with some high drama along the way. For a few sweet seconds, for example, Flamengo of Rio thought they had saved themselves from elimination.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Copa Libertadores Week One Round-up

February 10, 2012

“All the results from week one of the 2012 Copa Libertadores. Velez Sarsfield secured a comfortable win in the tournament opener as they overcame Defensor Sporting 3-0 in Uruguay. After going up just before the break through David Ramirez there was no doubt they would see the game out. Mauro Obolo and Seba Dominguez, with a scorching free kick, added the other goals.” Purple Patch


Copa Libertadores a cradle of talent

February 8, 2012

“This year’s major international tournament, the European Championship, was first disputed in 1960 – which makes it a mere youngster in comparison with the South American version, the Copa America, held as far back as 1916. But in terms of club competitions, rather than national teams, the seniority is reversed. The competition now known as the Champions League, originally the European Cup, first kicked off in 1955. The South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores, only came to life five years later – and was a conscious attempt to emulate the European competition, so that the champions of football’s two traditional continents could fight it out for the world title. Why the discrepancy? It is not too hard to explain.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


El Bielsa De Los Pobres

January 2, 2012


“In the presence of more illustrious South American nations – Brazil’s financial strength allowing clubs to compete with their European counterparts, Argentina’s continued production of the world’s most sought after forwards and Uruguay’s successful national team, reaching the World Cup semi-final and winning the Copa America in the last 18 months with a population similar to Wales – Chilean football is silently flourishing. Or it was, until Universidad de Chile, known as La U, decided to attract attention to the west coast of South America by creating history and breaking records, all while playing some of the most exciting football in world football.” In Bed With Maradoma


La U accomplishments unforgettable despite defeat

December 27, 2011

“It is finally over. After 36 games, the unbeaten run of Universidad de Chile came to an end last Thursday when they went down 2-1 to Santiago rivals Universidad Catolica (an interesting side themselves – look out for right-back Stefano Magnasco and left-footed striker Kevin Harbottle). The long awaited defeat of ‘La U’ (the previous one was in July) came in bizarre circumstances. At 1-1 and with the game in stoppage time, they looked in total control – until the usually excellent midfielder Marcelo Diaz misplaced a pass out of defence and Catolica’s Jose Luis Villanueva fired in a cross shot to win the game.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Bad start for new Argentina coach

October 18, 2011

“Last Tuesday when Venezuela beat Argentina in the second round of South America’s World Cup qualifiers it was historic, but hardly surprising. Venezuela have been making dramatic strides, had home advantage and were taking on an especially vulnerable Argentina side – whose 4-1 win at home to Chile the previous Friday may have disguised the fact.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Latin America’s power struggle
“Just a few rounds gone and, of the nine teams in contention, only two have yet to win a game. The other seven already have one success to their name, but nobody has two. The figures don’t just show it, they shout it: World Cup qualification in South America is more competitive than anywhere else on the planet.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


Goals galore in South American World Cup qualifiers

October 10, 2011

“It’s the same teams, three months apart, coming up with a totally different spectacle. Back in July the Copa America in Argentina was always enthralling, but its fascination was frequently the grim, attritional kind, with defences holding the upper hand. Now in October, the first round of South America’s marathon World Cup qualification campaign produced four open games – at times absurdly so – and 15 goals. Much of this can be explained by the differing demands of tournament and league football.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Batista must have thought he was safe as houses

August 1, 2011

“Just before the Copa America he signed a contract to be Argentina boss in the coming set of World Cup qualifiers. Argentina had not sacked a coach in decades – either they had resigned or had reached the end of their contract. Why would it be any different now? On his record over the past year, Sergio Batista is unfortunate to have been ousted – with former Leeds and Sheffield United midfielder Alejandro Sabella lined up to replace him.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Venezuela’s Loudest Cheerleader

August 1, 2011

“The ubiquitous nature of Twitter in celebrity circles ensures that us less exalted types are always kept up to date on their thoughts whenever an event of significance is occurring and it was no different at this year’s Copa America. But amongst all the usual Latin American ex-players, silicone enhanced models and other two-bob celebrities, the most compelling account to follow was that of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (@chavezcandanga).” In Bed With Maradona


ZM’s Copa America Best XI

July 29, 2011


“The outstanding performers from July’s Copa America tournament in Argentina.” Zonal Marking

Uruguay’s momentum, Paraguay’s bumpy road, more Copa America
“Going into the Copa America, we posed questions about the campaigns of the 10 South American sides. Now that the 43rd Copa America is history, we look back to find out if the tournament came up with the answers. (Listed from winners down to the teams eliminated in the group phase) SI – Tim Vickery


Uruguay light the way

July 25, 2011


“In the end, it was only a slightly surprising result. The 2011 Copa America might not have gone the way of holders Brazil or hosts and favourites Argentina, but Uruguay were probably the next in line to win it. Sunday afternoon’s 3-0 win over Paraguay was the result most expected after the semi-finals, and sees the Celeste lift their 15th Copa, pulling clear of Argentina, who they’d previously been level with on 14 tournament wins.” ESPN

Future bright for Copa kings Uruguay
“The record 15th Copa America triumph came with a fair dose of suffering – the only way Uruguay know how. They drew both their first two games. Then they mounted a heroic rearguard action in the quarter final against hosts Argentina, where they had a man sent off in the first half. But in the end it was conclusive. And so was the message from Buenos Aires after the 3-0 win over Paraguay in the final – last year’s run to the World Cup semi finals was no fluke. Uruguay are back.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Uruguay 3-0 Paraguay: Tabarez gets things right
“Uruguay won their record 15th Copa America with an excellent, controlled performance. Oscar Tabarez likes to spring a surprise with players and formations, but it was his expected XI for this match, in the 4-4-1-1 system that can reasonably be described as his first choice shape throughout this tournament. Gerardo Martino’s side was less predictable – he made four changes from the semi-final win over Venezuela, but kept roughly the same system – a narrow 4-4-2 / 4-5-1 with Pablo Zeballos making forward runs from a wide-left position, although Nelson Valdez sometimes switched positions with him. Uruguay were better all over the pitch – they were more secure at the back, more potent upfront, and most crucially, they won the midfield battle.” Zonal Marking

Uruguay’s Copa América triumph ushers in another golden age
“This has been a tournament that has persistently defied expectations, but not in the final. Uruguay were comfortable winners over Paraguay, collecting a 15th Copa América title and so, on Argentinian soil, moving past Argentina to become the most successful team in the tournament’s history.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Suarez pays tribute to team-mates
“Luis Suarez was named Player of the Tournament after helping Uruguay to a 3-0 victory over Paraguay but paid credit to his team-mates for the success. Suarez scored the opening goal and set up Diego Forlan for the third to round off a hugely impressive tournament as Uruguay cruised to victory.” ESPN


Preview of Copa America final

July 22, 2011


“The finalists of the Copa America, Paraguay and Uruguay, have played a combined 10 games in the competition so far. Of those matches, only two have ended in victory. Uruguay has progressed with two wins from its five matches, while Paraguay has amazingly managed to squeeze through with five consecutive draws.” ESPN


Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela (AET): Paraguay win on penalties – again

July 22, 2011

“Paraguay are, amazingly, through to the Copa America final having drawn all five games in the competition so far. As he did for the Spain game in last summer’s World Cup, Gerardo Martino made numerous changes to his side, partly because of Antolin Alcaraz’s suspension, which meant a big reshuffle at the back. Nestor Ortigoza returned to the midfield.” Zonal Marking

Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela
“Paraguay rode its luck through another penalty shootout to beat Venezuela on Wednesday and set up a Copa America final against Uruguay. Paraguay, which has not won any of its five matches in the tournament, booked its place in the final following a goalless draw and a 5-3 victory on penalties. The only miss in the shootout came when Justo Villar stopped Franklin Lucena’s shot. Dario Veron held his nerve to net the final spot kick and set up Sunday’s final against Uruguay, which beat Peru 2-0 in the other semifinal on Tuesday.” ESPN

Uruguay 2-0 Peru: Tabarez changes formation again to take Uruguay to the final
“Luis Suarez scored two second half goals in a confident Uruguayan performance. Oscar Tabarez was without Diego Perez, so Napoli’s Walter Gargano took his place. Sebastien Coates returned at centre-back. Sergio Markarian brought in Giancarlo Carmona for Renzo Revorendo, and Yoshimar Yotun for William Chiroque. With both sides contesting the quarter-finals as underdogs and both used to playing reactive football in this competition, much of the game was something of a stalemate, with neither side committing enough players into attack to overload the opposition.” Zonal Marking


Uruguay Reach Copa America Final

July 20, 2011


“The 2011 Copa América has been a tournament full of shocks, everyone would agree. None of the three pre-tournament favourites won their groups, none of the group winners made it through to the semis, and both the hosts and the holders (who were among those favourites first mentioned) went out in the quarter-finals. When the curtain is raised on the final in River Plate’s Estadio Monumental on Sunday afternoon, though, there will be one sight that’s familiar from past tournaments, though.” In Bed With Maradona


Uruguay 2, Peru 0

July 20, 2011

“Luis Suarez scored in the 53rd and 58th minutes to lead Uruguay past Peru 2-0 on Tuesday and into the Copa America final. Uruguay, which reached the semifinals of last year’s World Cup, will be looking for a record-15th Copa America title in Sunday’s final against either Paraguay or Venezuela, which meet in the other semifinal Wednesday in Mendoza. The final will be played Sunday in Buenos Aires.” ESPN

Uruguay storm into final
“Uruguay are the first team through to the Copa America final after they recorded a convincing 2-0 victory over Peru in La Plata, Argentina. Luis Suarez netted a second-half brace in the semi-final.” ESPN

Uruguay’s international rise
“On July 7, 2010, Uruguayan fans were waking up having seen their side fall to Netherlands in the semi-finals of the World Cup in South Africa a day earlier. Now one of the favourites to pick up the Copa America, Oscar Tabarez’s Uruguay are bringing back memories of their glory days, which began in 1924 and ran until their World Cup win of 1930 on home soil.” ESPN


Brazil 0-0 Paraguay: Brazil fail to score in 120 minutes – then miss all their penalties too

July 20, 2011

“Paraguay are through to the semi-finals of the Copa America, having drawn all four games so far. Gerardo Martino took the surprising decision of dropping Nestor Ortigoza, bringing in Victor Cacares in the centre of midfield. Roque Santa Cruz dropped out, with Nelson Valdez making his first start of the tournament.” Zonal Marking

Venezuela 2-1 Chile: Borghi’s changes put Chile on top, but set-piece vulnerability proves fatal
“Venezuela are through to the semi-finals after two goals from dead ball situations. Cesar Farias’ defence and midfield were as expected – the only decision to make was upfront, where Miku played just off Giancarlo Maldonaldo, in a fairly basic 4-4-2. Claudio Borghi was without Jean Beausejour, so Arturo Vidal moved out to the left and Carlos Carmona came into the centre of the pitch. Chile were poor in the first half, then excellent in the second. Venezuela were never particularly inventive, but retained a threat from set-pieces – and that was enough for them to win the game.” Zonal Marking

Uruguay 1-1 Argentina (AET): Uruguay progress after disciplined defending and superb penalties
“The hosts are out of the Copa America after an engaging 1-1 draw. Oscar Tabarez kept faith with the same narrow 4-4-1-1 system as against Mexico, although there was one change – Martin Cacares came in for Cristian Rodriguez, with Alvaro Pereira moving forward to the left of midfield. Sergio Batista named an unchanged XI in broadly the same system as in Argentina’s final group game against Costa Rica. The game started frantically and then slowed down but remained enjoyable – the two red cards opened up the game, but didn’t produce any more goals.” Zonal Marking

Peru 2-0 Colombia (AET): Colombia waste chances and Peru exploit goalkeeping mistakes
“Carlos Lobaton and Juan Vargas scored thumping extra time goals to put Peru into the semis. Hernan Gomez named his expected side, in a 4-3-3 formation. Sergio Markarian also named 4-3-3, though his side featured many changes from the final group stage game against Chile, when various players were rested. Colombia had the better chances, but Peru were always in the game and largely defended well.” Zonal Marking


Brazil pay the penalty

July 18, 2011


“Eight-time Copa America winners Brazil were left stunned and eliminated as they failed to convert a single penalty in their shootout against Paraguay, losing it 2-0. The Brazilians created the better chances throughout the 120 minutes, but were unable to make the breakthrough as both sides remained scoreless to send the quarter-final in La Plata to penalties.” ESPN

Paraguay 0, Brazil 0
“Paraguay advanced to the Copa America semifinals on Sunday by defeating defending champion Brazil 2-0 in a penalty shootout after the score was level at 0-0 following extra time. Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar stopped Thiago Silva’s shot and Elano, Andre Santos and Fred also missed for Brazil, which was eliminated from the South American competition a day after host Argentina lost to Uruguay.” ESPN

Argentina and Brazil lead the fall of the Copa América giants
“The giants woke up, but only to be felled. When Argentina and Brazil scored seven goals between them in their third group games at the Copa América, it seemed they were slowly rousing themselves for the march to a meeting in the final that the organisers had done everything in their power to make inevitable. In their quarter-finals, though, the problems of the opening games returned. Both struggled to make domination of possession count, both lost on penalties, and both will look on a barely credible semi-final line-up and wonder why on earth they are not there.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Brazil coach defends ‘historical incompetence’ after Copa América exit
“The Brazilian daily paper O Globo may have branded it an act of “historical incompetence” but the Brazil squad and coaching staff have defended their exit from the Copa América. The five-time world champions were beaten on penalties by Paraguay after a shoot-out in which they failed to hit the target with all four spot kicks. But despite the failure the coach, Mano Menezes, has pleaded that the public look on the bright side.” Guardian

Fickle Copa America quarterfinals yield surprising remaining quartet
“The full moon shone bright and white over San Juan, its domination of the chill sky seeming a symbol of the lunacy that took over the Copa America this weekend. The tournament — perhaps any tournament — has never known a series of quarterfinals like it, as the three group-winners and the hosts all crashed out. The machinations of the schedulers, who had done everything in their power to ensure a third successive Brazil-Argentina final, are left looking a little silly.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Inspirational Markarian leads Peru to semi-finals
“At the time of writing there is the chance that Venezuela might make it two, but at the moment there is the certainty that one of the Copa America semi-finalists will be a team who missed out on last year’s World Cup – and who missed out by the widest possible margin. Peru finished bottom of the table in South America’s 2010 qualifiers. They lost all nine away games, conceding 26 goals in the process.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Venezuela 2, Chile 1
“Venezuela reached the Copa America semifinals for the first time as Oswaldo Vizcarrondo and Gabriel Cichero scored either side of halftime to beat Chile 2-1 on Sunday. Humberto Suazo equalized briefly for Chile in the second half. Venezuela is unbeaten in four games at the Copa America and has been the surprise team in a surprising tournament.” ESPN

Uruguay 1, Argentina 1
“Uruguay advanced to the semifinals of the Copa America with a penalty shootout victory over hosts Argentina on Saturday, with Carlos Tevez having his spotkick saved by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera in the decider. The game ended 1-1 after regulation time and there was no addition to that scoreline in extra time. The final tally in the shootout was 5-4 to Uruguay.” ESPN

Argentina dumped out
“In the biggest upset of the 2011 Copa America thus far, Uruguay have defeated tournament hosts Argentina on penalties in their quarter-final in Santa Fe. The match itself ended 1-1 as Argentina dominated large portions of the contest, but Uruguay showed their steel to win the shootout 5-4 and eliminate the favourites. Carlos Tevez, the figure at the centre of much transfer debate, had his spot-kick saved by Fernando Muslera while Uruguay converted all of their penalties in clinical fashion.” ESPN

Peru 2, Colombia 0
“Peru reached the Copa America semifinals for the first time since 1997 by defeating Colombia 2-0 in extra time on Saturday. Carlos Augusto Lobaton fired a powerful shot from just inside the penalty area in the 101st minute and fellow midfielder Juan Manuel Vargas sealed the victory with a shot from near the penalty spot in the 111th.” ESPN


Brazil 4-2 Ecuador: Brazil finally grab a win

July 15, 2011


Francesco Guardi
“An open game was always likely to favour Brazil, and they took advantage to confirm their progression to the knockout stage. Mano Menezes changed his right side completely – Robinho and Maicon replaced Jadson and Dani Alves. Reinaldo Rueda left out Segundo Castillo in the centre of midfield, with Oswaldo Minda coming in. Brazil turned in their most impressive display in the Copa so far, though they still lacked cohesion upfront, and remain a little nervous at the back.” Zonal Marking

Brazil 4, Ecuador 2
“Alexandre Pato and Neymar scored two goals each as defending champion Brazil hit form with a 4-2 win over Ecuador on Wednesday to secure a Copa America quarterfinals spot. Brazil finished atop Group B and advanced to a knockout match against Paraguay. Ecuador was eliminated. Pato scored with a header in the 28th minute and a close-range shot in the 60th, while Neymar netted from inside the area in the 48th and 76th. Striker Felipe Caicedo scored for Ecuador in the 37th and 58th.” ESPN

Chileans in raptures after sealing quarter-final against Venezuela
“Finding grilled meat in Argentina isn’t usually a problem, but for days the parrillas of Mendoza have been rammed. With Chile only 130 miles across the Andes, fans have come in their droves, with reports of queues of more than six hours at the border. Even a day after their 1-0 win over Peru – a poor match in which neither side managed a shot on target before the decisive late own goal – they lingered, and many will make the short hop up to San Juan for Sunday’s quarter-final.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Grondona: Messi could quit
“Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Julio Grondona has warned that Lionel Messi could call time on his international career if the criticism from fans and the country’s media continues. Messi came under fire for below-par performances in the first two group games at the Copa America before sealing Argentina’s progress against Costa Rica.” ESPN

Venezuela 3, Paraguay 3
“Grenddy Adrian Perozo scored a stoppage-time equalizer with the help of his goalkeeper as Venezuela rallied for a 3-3 draw with Paraguay in a thrilling Copa America Group B match Wednesday. Venezuela was trailing 3-1 but pulled one back in the 89th via Nicolas Fedor. Goalkeeper Renny Vicente Vega then rushed to the other end in the game’s last play and met a corner with an angled header to set up Perozo’s equalizer two minutes into stoppage time.”>ESPN


Uruguay 1-0 Mexico: Uruguay’s pressing leads to dominance, and progression to the knockouts

July 13, 2011

“Alvaro Pereira’s scrappy goal set up a quarter-final showdown with Argentina. Oscar Tabarez dropped Edinson Cavani and Martin Caceres, bringing in Alvaro Gonzalez and Cristian Rodriguez either side of a narrow 4-4-1-1, moving Alvaro Pereira to left-back. Luis Fernando Tena made one change, with Miguel Ponce replacing Javier Aquiano. Mexico also lined up in a broad 4-4-1-1 system, with Giovani dos Santos behind Rafael ‘Lugo’ Marquez.” Zonal Marking

Argentina’s Copa Begins In Earnest
“‘A new Copa has started’, Lionel Messi told the press after Monday night’s 3-0 win for Argentina against Costa Rica. Messi wasn’t in a press conference, or a mixed zone; he was picking up his man-of-the-match award. Normally he’d just stand for a couple of photos and leave with the gong, to answer questions outside, but he grabbed a microphone to thank ‘the people of Córdoba for how they’ve treated all of us, especially myself.’” In Bed With Maradona


Sergio Batista and the Sharpening of Long Knives

July 11, 2011


Sergio Batista
“We’re one week into the Copa América, and if nothing else it’s proven correct those who made pre-tournament predictions that it would be the most closely-fought Copa in a long time. For the first time ever, both Argentina and Brazil failed to win their opening matches. It must be said that not enough credit was given to the two sides who foiled them in those games; Venezuela in the case of the holders Brazil, and Bolivia in the case of hosts Argentina.” In Bed With Maradona

Critics attack ‘disastrous’ Brazil after they scrape Paraguay draw
“Perhaps Dunga wasn’t so bad after all. He may have been pragmatic and have refused to pick the public’s favourites, but at least he won games. Brazil, after underwhelming in a 0-0 against a Venezuela team that, after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Ecuador, improbably tops Copa América’s Group B, were highly fortunate to scrape a 2-2 draw against Paraguay. Two thirds of the way through the group stage, none of the seeds have yet won a game and, amid all the grumbling about Argentina’s form, the one consolation for the hosts has been that Brazil have been even worse than they have.” Guardian

Can Argentina salvage their Copa America hopes?
“We’re one week into the Copa América, and if nothing else, it’s shown that those who predicted that this would be the most closely-fought Copa in living memory, have been proven correct. For the first time ever, both Argentina and Brazil failed to win their opening matches. It must be said that not enough credit was given to the two sides who foiled them in those games; Venezuela in the case of the holders Brazil, and Bolivia against the hosts Argentina.” World Soccer

Brazil 2-2 Paraguay: Brazil snatch the draw
“Mano Menezes ditched the “European” 4-2-3-1, went for a Dunga-style compromise system, then ended up with 4-2-2-2… He dropped Robinho from his starting line-up, favouring Jadson who played much narrower on the right, as he has done in previous friendlies. Gerardo Martino went for the 4-4-2 / 4-3-3 hybrid that he often favoured at last summer’s World Cup. Roque Santa Cruz played on the right, and made diagonal runs to a centre-forward position.” Zonal Marking


Set-pieces dominate the first week of the Copa

July 8, 2011


“For a tournament often hailed for its flair and unpredictability, the Copa America has clearly been lacking excitement. So far, the goals per game count stands at a pathetic eight, from seven matches. That gives a goals per game rate of just 1.14 – roughly half the goals per game rate of last summer’s World Cup, where the figure was 2.27. There have been three 0-0s, and only Chile have scored more than once.” Zonal Marking

Argentina 0-0 Colombia: another goalless draw
“The third 0-0 from seven Copa America games so far, as Argentina again struggled. Sergio Batista made one change from the opening day 0-0 against Bolivia. Marcos Rojo dropped out, with Pablo Zabaleta coming in on the right. Javier Zanetti moved to the left. Hernan Dario Gomez also made a single change, bringing in Carlos Sanchez for Gutavo Bolivar, a straight swap in midfield. Argentina had much of the play but failed to create enough chances to get the breakthrough, a common feature of this tournament. Colombia sat back and played on the break, and deserved their point.” Zonal Marking

Chile 2-1 Mexico: Borghi’s change in formation prompts Chile’s comeback

“Chile recovered from 1-0 down to record a 2-1 victory in an excellent contest. Claudio Borghi lined up with a 3-4-1-2 formation containing various players who are familiar from last year’s World Cup, and there were no major selection surprises. Like Costa Rica, Mexico are competing with an Olympic squad in this tournament, and assistant manager Luis Fernando Tena is in charge. He played a 3-5-2, with Giovani dos Santos just behind Rafael Marquez Lugo, not to be confused with the more established Rafael Marquez.” Zonal Marking

Copa América 2011: Chile Rely on Set-Pieces to Get Victory
“Chile embarked on their journey for a first Copa America trophy against a weakened Mexico side. With last month’s Gold Cup Mexico’s main international competition of the summer, a mostly under-22 side make up the Copa America squad for the tournament invitees. This meant that Chile, with the likes of potentially Barcelona bound Alexis Sánchez, as well as Humberto Suazo and Matías Fernández, were clear favorites. Meanwhile Giovanni dos Santos – Tottenham-loanee and spectacular goal-scorer in the Gold Cup final – the main player of note for the Mexicans.” the elastico


WWC: Erica Turns on the Style

July 8, 2011

“Sure, Copa América has Messi, Forlán, and Neymar. Yes, it will be a very interesting test for Mano Menezes. Yeah, it’s nice to see the young Brazilian and Argie talent that’s been shining in leagues around the world. And I’ll grant you that, despite lackluster performances from Brazil in its first game and Argentina in its first two, there are good reasons to expect both to put on an offensive show in this Copa America. Both Brazil and Argentina are using very offensive schemes, and both have players who can make things happen. Plus the third traditional power in South American soccer, Uruguay, has a pretty good team, the one that went farthest in the last World Cup and the one with the best player from that tournament. And we can’t forget Chile or Colômbia, both of which bring some interesting players. There are lots of reasons to watch this Copa America.” Cult Football


Brazil 0-0 Venezuela: Brazil fail to impress

July 5, 2011

“Mano Menezes’ first competitive game as Brazil manager ended with a poor 0-0 draw against a resilient Venezuela side. Menezes played his expected side, which meant Ganso playing as the playmaker behind a front three. Cesar Farias named a solid 4-4-2 side, with La Liga duo Nicolas Fedor and Jose Rondon upfront. Brazil dominated possession, of course, and in the first ten minutes of the game looked like they were going to run riot. The longer Venezuela went without conceding, however, the more confidence the underdogs had, and the better they defended.” Zonal Marking

Seleção Draw Blank Against Venezuela in Copa América
“As opening gambits go, it was far from convincing. Having watched their most bitter of rivals stutter against Bolivia (a result which was reported with considerable verve in Brazil) the seleção met Venezuela, hoping to put down an early marker in the competition. A year after being knocked out of the World Cup with barely a whimper of protest, opportunity hung heavy in the La Plata air; this was the moment for Brazil to shake off the dust, to reintroduce itself to the world. A team rich in youthful vim and logic-defying hair styles marched onto the pitch. Mano Menezes looked on sagely as Neymar, Ganso et al. took their starting positions. The stage was set. And then… nothing.” Snap Kaka A Pop


Opening skirmishes hint at wide-open Copa

July 5, 2011

“They may have had a little bit of help from some a less than perfect pitch in La Plata and some opening match nerves from the big two, but in holding Argentina and Brazil respectively, Bolivia and Venezuela made a powerful declaration of the current strength in depth of the South American national teams. Whoever wins the Copa America on 24 July will have to battle their way to the title but both hosts Argentina and 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil will feel they are capable of far better than they produced in their first group games.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Copa América 2011: Chile win at ‘home’; Uruguay are held by Peru

July 5, 2011


Brazil and Venezuela
“Group C of the 2011 Copa América began on Monday night with a double-header in San Juan, and it was the most entertaining evening of action we’ve had so far in the Copa. Uruguay surprisingly fell behind to Peru before a brilliant assist from Nicolás Lodeiro and a smart finish from Liverpool’s Luis Suárez gave them a deserved equaliser. Shortly after, Mexico’s Under-23s took on Chile, and went in at the break with a lead before Claudio Borghi’s entertaining team fought back in the second half to win 2-1. Chile and Colombia are the only sides to win their opening games. You can see all Monday’s goals right here.” Hasta El Gol Siempre


Colombia 1-0 Costa Rica: Ramos goal beats ten man Costa Rica

July 3, 2011


The Lady and The Unicorn, Domenico Zampieri
“Colombia squeezed past Costa Rica in a poor game. Hernan Dario Gomez surprisingly left out Cristian Zapata, sticking with the partnership of Luis Parea and Mario Yepes at the back. Hugo Rodallega was also on the bench. Costa Rica are participating in this tournament with an Olympic squad, so the majority of players are under 23, and the XI was unrecognisable from the side which contested the Gold Cup.” Zonal Marking


Copa América: Colombia beat Costa Rica to go top of Argentina’s group

July 3, 2011

“Yesterday’s only Copa América game saw Colombia beat Costa Rica 1-0 with a goal from Adrián Ramos on the stroke of half time after a wonderful pass from Fredy Guarín. The result puts Colombia top of Group A on three points, with Argentina and Bolivia of course both on one after the first match. I didn’t get the chance to post the goal video at the time, so here it is now. Later on I’ll have the highlights here of Sunday’s two matches; Paraguay v Ecuador in Santa Fe, and Brazil v Venezuela, which I’m currently waiting in the press room to take my seat for.” Hasta El Gol Siempre


Copa comes home

July 1, 2011

“In 1910, Argentina invited Uruguay and Chile to compete in a three-team tournament called the Copa Centenario Revolucion de Mayo. The seeds were sown for a larger continental competition and in 1916 Argentina hosted what is considered to be the inaugural South American Championship of Nations.” ESPN


A guide to the 2011 Copa America

June 28, 2011


“Think football is over for the summer? Think again. From July 1st to the 24th, the ten nations comprising the CONMEBOL Confederation of South America, plus two guest countries, will play out the 43rd Copa America in Argentina. If you’re familiar with past tournaments, then you’ll know to expect some beautiful football, some drama, some hilariously shameless cheating, and some great spectacle, both on and off the pitch. It’s a fine showcase for South American football and for my money the most entertaining and passionate football on earth.” Three Match Ban – 2011 Copa America: Part One – The Minnows, Part Two – The Outsiders, Mexico & Costa Rica, Part Three – The Under-Achievers, Colombia & Peru, Part Four – The Over-Achievers, Paraguay and Ecuador, Part Five – The Contenders, Uruguay and Chile, Part Six – The Giants, Argentina and Brazil


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