James Rodríguez irked at Copa América, a year on from World Cup wonder goal

June 27, 2015

“On Sunday, it will be a year since James Rodríguez scored the goal against Uruguay that, emblematically at least, confirmed his talent. His performances for Porto and Monaco had marked him out as a player of great potential and the rumours linking him with a move to Real Madrid were well-established, but it was his sumptuous chest and volley against Uruguay in the last 16 of the World Cup that provided the image of his brilliance, a shorthand for what he is capable of.” Guardian

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A Guide to Copa America, in Queens

June 24, 2015

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El Gauchito, 94-60 Corona Ave in Queens.
“Copa América, the South American soccer championship, is in its third week in Chile, and has given the world everything it could handle from a tournament: dramatic comebacks, shocking suspensions, all-out scoring feasts, and acts of idiocy and manslaughter off the pitch. Now, after the end of the group stages, eight of the original 12 teams remain, and they will begin the direct elimination rounds today. There is still plenty of action to catch—with some potential classic matchups coming up—and as we wrote during the World Cup, there is no finer place to watch international soccer than New York City. So if you aren’t able to make your way over to Chile, your next best shot at living the fever of South American soccer is right here, in the almost impossibly diverse borough of Queens. From Astoria to Sunnyside, bars, bakeries and butcher shops are turning their establishments into prime viewing spots. Here are the upcoming matches and the best places to catch them with diehard fans from each country.” ROADS & KINGDOMS

Uruguay have the history to hit Copa América heights against Chile
“Chile have scored more than twice as many goals as anybody else in this Copa América. They will be playing at home in front of 40,000 red-shirted fans. They have played with a verve and a fluidity nobody else in this tournament has matched and, if anything, Arturo Vidal’s drink-driving charge, which could have been a destabilising influence, seems to have given them an enhanced sense of purpose. Uruguay scraped through their group in third place, having scored only two goals. Other sides in their position might have approached Wednesday night’s quarter-final like lambs to the slaughter but not Óscar Washington Tabárez’s team. This is the sort of situation Uruguay have traditionally relished.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Copa America: Group C’s key tactical system, game-changing performance, and best young player
“Group C has easily been the Copa America’s most engaging, as shock wins by Venezuela and Colombia saw all four teams level on points entering the final match day. With a resurgent Thiago Silva leading Brazil to victory over Venezuela to top the group, the final placing may not seem like much of a surprise. However, with Brazil needing a last-minute winner to beat Peru, Neymar’s suspension, and a host of strong defensive performances, many from unsung, domestically based players, these six games provided us with multitudes of knife-edge tension. As the three survivors lick their wounds ahead of the quarterfinals, here is a brief look back at some of the keys to the way things played out.” Outside of the Boot

Copa America quarterfinals: Argentina and Brazil face tense challenges
Chile vs. Uruguay. All the momentum is with Chile, but all the history is with Uruguay. The hosts have looked to be far and away the best team in this tournament so far, scoring twice as many goals as everybody else, but Uruguay have by far the best record in spoiling such house parties. On the past three occasions that the latter have met the home team — Argentina 2011, Venezuela 2007 and Paraguay 1999 — they have eliminated them. That’s all the more relevant here because it reflects just how good the Uruguayans are at digging in and disrupting more exciting and excitable sides. Oscar Tabarez’s current side are experts at that, and abnormally difficult to beat. … ” ESPN


The Copa America heats up now for Chile

June 22, 2015


“These days, the Copa America tournament serves as a warm-up for the qualifiers. Of course, once the Copa kicks off, everyone wants to win. There is always pressure on Brazil and Argentina to go home with the trophy, and that is especially true this year, with La Albiceleste waiting for a senior title since 1993 and Brazil anxious to cover up that huge stain on the carpet left by its performance in the World Cup. The focus of most coaches, though, is firmly on preparing a team for the World Cup qualifiers. More than anything else, the Copa America is about the host, which really wants to put on a show in front of its own public. And that, too, is especially true this year, with Chile gunning for a maiden continental title. As expected, there has never been a dull moment during Chile’s group phase. Indeed, there was more incident than anyone had bargained for.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Tactical Analysis: Brazil 0-1 Colombia | Colombia’s counter-press proves effective as Dunga’s men finally lose

June 22, 2015

“Brazil entered this heavyweight clash in Santiago brimming with confidence and seeking their 13th straight win since manager Dunga was reinstated. After narrowly edging past minnows Peru thanks to Neymar’s brilliance, Brazil topped the group going into this game. However, a much better performance was required if they were to overcome the threat of Colombia, desperately needing victory to avoid elimination from the tournament. With world-class attacking talents such as Neymar, James Rodriguez and Falcao on display and Colombia’s survival in the competition on the line, this had all the makings of a memorable game and was one that would have been worthy to grace the final. Alas, excluding the post-match brawl, this was anything but a memorable game mainly due to Brazil’s awful decision making in the attacking phase and an over-reliance on Neymar as well as a frighteningly high tempo throughout the 90 minutes which denied both sides the opportunity to find any real rhythm in the game. In the 3rd meeting between these teams since their World Cup quarter-final clash in Brazil, Colombia’s superb counter-pressing system and Jeison Murillo’s scrappy finish from Juan Cuadrado’s free kick in the 36th minute ensured a nervy 1-0 victory for los Cafateros.” Outside of the Boot


Radamel Falcao is the reason Colombia isn’t playing as well as it did at the World Cup

June 21, 2015

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“When news broke in January 2014 that Colombian star Radamel Falcao had picked up a serious knee injury playing for club team, AS Monaco, an entire nation held its breath… with one notable exception. While Colombia and the wider soccer world was left to lament a World Cup without arguably the game’s best out-and-out center-forward, coach José Pékerman could have been forgiven for feeling a certain sense of relief. On the surface, it was a huge blow. Los Cafeteros had just secured its first trip to a World Cup in 16 years during a qualification campaign that saw it hammer defending South American champion Uruguay 4-0, pick off Chile 3-1 in Santiago, and become just one of two sides to prevail at the dizzy heights of La Paz. Expectations were at their highest since Carlos Valderrama led his 1994 side to the United States with realistic aspirations of becoming world champions.” Fusion


Neymar’s petulance leaves Brazil in trouble after Copa America suspension

June 21, 2015

“There were some warning signs flashing in Brazil’s Copa America opener against Peru, Neymar’s first competitive match as Brazil captain. He produced a wonderful individual performance in that 2-1 win, crowned with a pass of breathtaking vision that set up Brazil’s stoppage-time winner. … Three days later, the collision could not be averted — with consequences that will, unless Brazil’s appeal is successful, rule Neymar out of the rest of the Copa America. He was suspended for four games after being sent off in the 1-0 loss to Colombia.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


Brazil’s inadequacies echoed by Neymar’s lack of patience against Colombia

June 18, 2015

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“Disappointment would have been bad enough for Brazil, but after the final whistle it became disgrace. Defeat to Colombia, followed by Neymar’s red card, may not resonate like the 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semi-final last year did, but the shame is just as real. After all the talk of trying to find some sort of redemption in the Copa América, all the same old flaws were there, just without quite the same hysteria. This was a petulant, complacent, unimaginative Brazil and they now, almost unbelievably, must beat Venezuela in their final group game on Sunday to be sure of making it to the quarter-finals – and they will have to do it without the player on whom they have become so reliant.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Breaking down last night’s Colombia-Brazil nonsense with the power of GIF
“Last night, Brazil and Colombia met in a Copa América group stage game, almost one year after Brazil eliminated the Colombians in Forteleza in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals. But this time was different. Colombia, having already succumbed to Venezuela in its opening game, managed to pull itself together and frustrate Brazil for 90 minutes, eeking out a 1-0 victory. Typically, that would be the story. Colombia exacts revenge on the Samba Boys. Or something basic like that. But that would be a disservice to the real story: These two teams wanted to murder each other, and they came damn close after the final whistle.” Fusion

Neymar’s brilliance and immaturity have been on display at Copa America
“There was a time not long ago when Brazil boasted countless world-class attackers. It was a time when, for example, Marcio Amoroso could finish as top goal scorer in Brazil, Italy and Germany, but count himself fortunate simply to be named in the Brazil squad. Mario Jardel scored 130 goals in 125 league games for Porto and collected only 10 caps, usually as a substitute. Giovane Elber, meanwhile, spent a decade banging in the Bundesliga goals and managed just 15 caps.” ESPN – Michael Cox