Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1253, ( 2 - 8 July 2015)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1253, ( 2 - 8 July 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Brazil out yet again

Messi and Argentina target Copa America success, Marawan Zayed reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Neymar-less Brazil won’t be playing in the semi-finals of Copa America after bowing out in the quarter-finals against Paraguay in the penalty shootout.

Even though Brazil were playing without their magician and superstar Neymar, they should have still won the game especially after Robinho gave them an early lead from Dani Alves’ cross inside the box. However, an extremely stupid and unnecessary handball from Thiago Silva 20 minutes from time gifted Paraguay the chance to equalise from the spot and they accepted the gift to take the game to the penalty shootout where they edged the Brazilians to the semis.

It was a repeat of the result when the two teams met at the 2011 Copa, also in the last eight.

 It was widely expected that Brazil, which could not restore national pride after its disastrous 2014 World Cup exit, would not reach the final stages of the competition after the suspension of their captain and talisman Neymar who was banned for the rest of the competition after seeing the red card against Colombia. Neymar is considered the only Brazilian player at the moment who’s on the same level of the old greats Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho, while the rest of the squad includes very few potential stars such as Coutinho and Firmino. The rest are simply average players that are nowhere near what we’ve seen in the past from Brazil.

In the semis Paraguay will now face Lionel Messi’s Argentina who are now favourites to lift the trophy even though they needed a bit of luck to progress to the semis at the expense of Colombia. The game ended in a goalless draw as Colombia’s goalkeeper David Ospina was in inspired form as he pulled off some brilliant saves throughout the game to ensure his side did not concede. However, some woeful penalties from his teammates meant his efforts were gone with the wind even though the Colombian coach Pekerman admitted his side were second best during the 90 minutes and could have lost in the game itself only for Arsenal’s Ospina.

The other semi-final will see the hosts Chile come up against an in-form Peru side that defeated Bolivia 3-1 in the quarter finals thanks to a brilliant hat trick from star striker and vice-captain Guerrero.

On the other hand, their semi-final opponents Chile left it till the 82nd minute when Isla scored from the edge of the box to give the home side a 1-0 win over holders Uruguay who ended the game with nine men after Cavani and Fucile both got sent off.

Chile will surely fancy their chances against Peru especially that they are the most in-form team in the competition having scored 11 goals in just four games so far, let alone playing in front of their extremely influential fans.

In the other game, Messi and co are surely happy they’ll be facing Paraguay rather than Brazil as Messi will hope to go on and win his first ever Copa America to cap off an unbelievable season that saw him win the treble with Barcelona.

However, if as expected, Chile and Argentina manage to win their games, both teams will have every right to think they can win it all.

Vidal, Sanchez, Medel and Valdivia and the Chilean team in general are playing their best football in a long time so with the support of their fans they surely can pip anyone to the title, even if its Messi and Argentina.

However, the question will still be whether Messi, one of, if not the best players in the history of the game, can win his first ever trophy with the national side, or will the agony of losing another final strike again, like what happened in last year’s World Cup final.

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