Copa America 2015: Team of the Tournament

July 11, 2015

“Chile ended their near century drought with a penalty shoot-out victory over Argentina in front of a sea of red in Santiago on Saturday to claim their first ever Copa America. It was a triumph of the collective over the individual and fittingly rewarded the country’s best ever generation with victory on home soil. Yes, there had been some kind refereeing decisions that had gone their way but that shouldn’t take anything away from a fantastic team performance by Sampaoli’s men. For Argentina, it was so close but yet so far as they fell at the final hurdle for the second year in a row. For them the wait continues. After a memorable tournament, now comes the time for reflection and a chance to recognise some of the best performers from Chile 2015. Playing in a 4-2-3-1, here are the players that stood out for me over the course of the last few weeks.” Outside of the Boot


Hosts Chile stun Argentina to claim first Copa América title on penalties

July 5, 2015

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“After 99 years, it came down to Alexis Sánchez against Sergio Romero from 12 yards. The Arsenal forward attempted a Panenka, scuffed it badly, and scored anyway as the goalkeeper dived to his left. Misses from Gonzalo Higuaín and Éver Banega in the shootout proved decisive and, finally, Chile, one of the four participants at the inaugural Copa América, had a first international trophy. For Argentina the drought goes on: 22 years since their last trophy and an increasing sense that this gifted generation of players will remain unfulfilled.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Argentina’s painful title drought continues with loss in Copa final
“As the last penalty of this Copa America final was taken, Lionel Messi stood slightly apart from the rest of the Argentina team, hands clasped tightly behind his back. When Alexis Sanchez’s shot hit the back of the net and the sea of red-clad fans inside the Estadio Nacional here erupted, Messi remained motionless for a few long, poignant seconds, staring straight ahead, before walking away. There was just time enough for a slow gaze over his shoulder at the wildly cavorting Chilean players near the corner flag before he was embraced by a supportive teammate.” SI

Chile beats Argentina on penalties in Copa America to win first major title
“A nation could barely watch, but Alexis Sanchez, given his third chance to win the Copa America, accepted it, scuffing an attempted Panenka but deceiving goalkeeper Sergio Romero anyway to give Chile a 4–1 win on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw. For Chile, the 99-year wait for a first-ever international trophy was over; for Argentina, the 22-year drought goes on. It had been a game that, after a bright start, had degenerated into a bruising, physical encounter in which fluent play was at a premium. Chances were rare—there were a couple of snap-shots from Sanchez and Ezequiel Lavezzi squandered a break with an overhit cross, but essentially this was an ugly midfield scrap.” SI – Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Copa América final: Messi stands in way of Chile’s inspired realists
“The training field echoes with laughter. Someone makes a joke about Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Garay and their shared love of Newell’s Old Boys. The players are, demonstrably, having fun: talk of splits and the destabilising presence of Carlos Tevez seems a long way in the past. Inside, Animal Planet still plays silently on the television in the corner and the technical staff still analyse their data, but they are no longer mumbling darkly about Louis van Gaal giving them a ‘ruined’ Ángel Di María, short on game-time and confidence. Argentina’s mood is noticeably relaxed.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Copa America 2015 Final | Key Battles: How to stop Messi, midfield battle and more
“60 years after these two sides met in the South American Football Championship final, they face up against each other in the modern version of the tournament. While Argentina may be favourites for the 2015 Copa America final, hosts Chile will prove to be a difficult opponent. Tom Robinson has a look at the key battles for the clash at the Estadio Nacional.”


Tactical Analysis: Chile 2-1 Peru | Vargas brace sinks spirited Incas

July 5, 2015

“Relations between neighbouring countries Chile and Peru have been fraught with difficulties and tension since as far back as 1880, so a semi-final Clasico del Pacifico was always likely to be hotly disputed contest.  And so it proved, with a contentious early red card and a couple of debatable decisions which eventually saw hosts Chile emerge victorious to book a place in Saturday’s final.  Argentina await them in Santiago as La Roja look to finally end their 99-year Copa America drought.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: Argentina 6-1 Paraguay | Albiceleste exploit space between lines to cruise to victory

July 5, 2015

“A place in the final was up for grabs as the favourites, Argentina were up against Paraguay, who against all odds overcame what was a mediocre Brazil side in the quarter finals. The two sides had met previously in the competition with Argentina squandering a two goal lead in the second half. That, along with Albiceleste manager, Gerardo Martino’s history as coach of the Paraguayan national team made for an intriguing clash and one that some thought may go down to the wire. However, those expecting a close game saw the complete opposite as Argentina ruthlessly swept Paraguay aside by 6 goals to 1 with Lionel Messi once again at his brilliant best, laying on the assists for 3 of his team’s 6 goals. The ridiculous amount of space between the lines and Argentina’s exploitation of the right-hand side proved Paraguay’s undoing. No mercy was shown to the Paraguayans with Martino’s men looking to cement their place in the final; they showed no signs of letting their 2 goal lead slip this time around despite Lucas Barrios halving the deficit on the stroke of half-time.” Outside of the Boot


Messi takes over, Argentina trounces Paraguay in Copa America semi

July 2, 2015

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“There was no goal for Lionel Messi, but there was everything else in Argentina’s 6-1 win over Paraguay in the Copa America semifinal on Tuesday. Messi orchestrated an Argentina performance that at last reached the attacking heights if which it should be capable, setting up five of the six goals and generally playing with a playful menace. Marcos Rojo put Argentina ahead after 15 minutes and when Javier Pastore added a second 12 minutes later, the game already seemed over.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Even hostile Chile fans forced to acknowledge Lionel Messi’s greatness
“The problem with a genius like Lionel Messi is that you’re always waiting for him to perform. You can’t watch a game he plays in as you watch any other game because you’re always hoping that this will be of those days when he turns it on, and if he doesn’t you end up feeling a little cheated. Nobody felt cheated on Tuesday night, just grateful to have been there, unless you had the misfortune to be a Paraguayan defender. The Chile fans who made up most of the crowd and who had begun the game by jeering the Argentinian national anthem and chanting ‘Argentinos – hijos da puta’ ended it in awed applause.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Tactical Analysis: Argentina 0-0 Colombia (5-4 pens) | Messi and co. through to semis despite ultra-defensive Colombia
“In another battle between two giants of South American football, Argentina squared up against Colombia with the tantalising prospect of a possible semi-final clash with Brazil. Gerardo Martino’s men were tipped by many to go all the way in the competition and have looked on course to do so, though they are still yet to hit their stride. Colombia, on the other hand, have underwhelmed throughout the competition, scraping through to the quarter finals and scoring just one goal in their first three games.” Outside of the Boot


Attacking stars set to light up Copa America final

July 2, 2015

“So will Chile finally have something to put in its trophy cabinet? Or will Argentina win its first senior title since 1993? There is plenty at stake, then, in the final of the 2015 Copa America. Many treat this tournament as a warm up for the coming World Cup qualifiers, but not these two teams. Chile, as host, is obliged to put on a show, especially given the fact that it has never won the competition. A sense of ‘if not now, when?’ has hung over Chile in this Copa. It has probably its best ever generation, with a group of players in their prime with the experience of two World Cups to help them through. The tournament has been set up for them to reach the final – they were in the easiest group, have played all their games in Santiago’s Nacional Stadium and have avoided the heavyweights – until now.” World Game – Tim Vickery


Hope and faith – the anatomy of Peru’s transformation

July 2, 2015

“When Copa America 2015 was about to get underway, you would find very few people that would have backed Peru to win the tournament at a whopping 100/1. Only two nations were given less of a chance of winning the tournament – Bolivia (200/1) and Jamaica (500/1). If you fancied a punt on the competition’s top scorer, you could’ve gotten 125/1 on Peru’s hat-trick hero Paolo Guerrero topping the charts; before Peru’s match against Chile the best odds you’d have found was 3/1. In a group with Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, Peru weren’t given a chance. No-hopers. Whipping boys.” backpagefootball


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