Copa de America 2015 – the story so far
IT’S the world’s oldest continental football competition – and five time world cup winners Brazil aren’t its most successful team. With the group stage of the 2015 Copa America complete, the focus now shifts to the quarter finals and the eight teams that will battle it out in the hope of getting their hands on one of footballs’ oldest trophies.
Tournament hosts Chile stormed to the top of their group with a convincing 5-0 thrashing in their last group game against Bolivia, with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez among the scorers. Remarkably, the Bolivians still qualified for the last eight thanks to Ecuador’s 2-1 win over Mexico. Bolivia’s previous 3-2 win over Ecuador was their first in the Copa America since 1997, although both teams progress. Despite their effort in a 3-3 draw with Chile, Mexico end up in last place.
Tournament favourites Argentina defeated defending champions Uruguay in their last group game to claim first position in group B, with a modest 1-0 win over Jamaica. They narrowly bettered second-place Paraguay, who finished behind them on goal difference. The top two had drawn in their opening game after Paraguay fought back from 2-0 down to end the match 2-2. Uruguay go through in third after their 1-1 draw with Paraguay, meaning that minnows Jamaica finish last with no points.
Brazil secured their place in the quarter finals after Thiago Silva and Roberto Firmino scored either side of half time to help see off Venezuela 2-1. Despite finishing in pole position in their group, their victory was overshadowed by the four match suspension to their star striker Neymar, who was sent off after clashing with Colombian players in their opening 1-0 defeat. Colombia and Peru also progressed, after they respectively drew 0-0. Venezuela’s loss to Brazil meant that they failed to qualify, although it was very close on the final day, with all four teams on 3 points and all on equal goal difference too.
Fixtures for the quarter finals:
Chile v Uruguay 24 June
Bolivia v Peru 25 June
Argentina v Colombia 26 June
Brazil v Paraguay 27 June
ONE TO WATCH – Chile v Uruguay
Bagging a whopping ten goals in their three group games, the hosts have had a strong tournament so far – and have arguably been the most entertaining side in the competition. Spurred on by a home crowd, it promises to be another exciting game. With Uruguay lacking their goal machine Luis Suarez through suspension, the hosts are favourites going into this one.
ONE TO WATCH – Argentina v Colombia
Slow and steady wins the race – a proverb that Argentina have truly lived up to so far in the tournament with their two wins, one draw and two clean sheets. Having underperformed against Jamaica and a hard fought draw against Uruguay, Gerardo Martino’s side must improve if they want to end their 22 year wait to lift the Copa. They’ll be up against a struggling Colombia, so they’ll fancy their chances.
There are always talking points and drama to every major footballing competition and this years’ La Copa has been no different. Some of the world’s most iconic players have travelled to the Land of Poets to make a name for themselves both on and off the pitch in more unexpected ways than one…
Mess-ing around with a selfie
He’s used to the attention from fans and the world’s paparazzi, but Leonel Messi appeared slightly taken aback when Deshorn Brown of Jamaica asked if he could have a selfie with the Argentine. Brown, who had been substituted near the end of his side’s 1-0 defeat, picked up his mobile phone as soon as the final whistle blew and ran on to the pitch to find Messi.
Driving towards a comeback
Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal made his first appearance only three days after crashing his car whilst under the influence of alcohol. Despite having his driving license suspended, the Juventus player has not been reprimanded by his national team. As part of his punishment, the footballer will have to report to the Chilean consulate in Milan upon his return to his club. Vidal, however, seems unfazed by the media reaction surrounding the crash, having scored three goals in two games after finding the net twice in Chile’s 3-3 draw against Mexico and also scoring in his side’s opening win against Ecuador.
Brazil’s captain is more known for his stylistic and creative play on the pitch, rather than being sent off it. His antics after his side’s 1-0 loss to Colombia is unusual behaviour from the Brazilian, who kicked a ball at Colombia’s Pablo Armero in frustration at the end of the game. He then appeared to deliberately head butt another player who confronted him.
Was this just an unfortunate heated moment for Neymar, frustrated by his team’s defeat? Or was it the painful memory of suffering a broken vertebrae in the 2014 World Cup, after he was controversially kneed in the back by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga? Brazil have accepted his wrongdoing and will not appeal the ban.
Main photo: peru.com