The Copa America has been mired with controversy yet filled with beauty. South America’s primary competition has seen it’s fair share of disappointments and has still matched pre-tournament expectations.
Brazil’s ousting in the quarter-final stage was the talking point, but Peru’s run along-with Chile’s impressive showing has kept enthusiasts intrigued. Though Argentina remain as favourites with online sports betting at Sportsbook.ag, it may not be as simple to call these games. Paraguay too who eliminated Brazil for the second successive Copa America, have shown they aren’t to be overlooked.
Finley Crebolder picks his four players that defined the quarter-final stage, a stage that has left us with two enticing fixtures.
JOSE PAOLO GUERRERO
Going into Copa America, Guerrero was dubbed as one of Peru’s key players, so he received huge amounts of criticism after failing to find the net in any of Peru’s three group games. However, the Peruvian finally came to life in their quarter-final clash against Bolivia, and in emphatic fashion.
Playing against Bolivia, Peru had the chance to reach consecutive Copa America semi-finals, and Guerrero almost single handedly made sure they did so, scoring an excellent hat-trick. After 20 minutes, the game was looked at 0-0, but in the space of three minutes, Guerrero turned the game around.
In the 20th minute, he rose highest to head a cross from Vargas past the Bolivian goalkeeper Romel Quinonez. Then, only three minutes later, Guerrero got his second goal of the game, slotting the ball past the keeper after being put through on goal by an excellent lofted ball from Christian Cueva, giving Peru a comfortable lead. Guerrero completed his hat-trick in the 74th minute, capitalising on a mistake from a Bolivian defender, and again calmly finishing to comfortably send his nation through to face Chile in the semi-finals.
Peru will go into the match with Chile as huge underdogs, but if Guerrero is on form, he can physically dominate the Chile defenders, and maybe even send Peru to the final, keeping their dream of winning their 3rd Copa America alive.
Colombia may have crashed out on penalties against Argentina to end a very disappointing tournament for them, but if it wasn’t for the heroics of their goalkeeper, David Ospina, they would have been out of the tie against Argentina far sooner.
Argentina bombarded the Colombian goal straight from kick off, and Ospina made his first of many saves after just five minutes, when he dived low to his right to deny Javier Pastore. Then in the 20th minute, the Arsenal goalkeeper somehow kept the score at 0-0, making an incredible double save from Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi. Ospina was called to action yet again before the half ended, again denying Pastore.
Although Colombia improved in the 2nd half, Argentina were still the better team, and therefore the keeper was called upon many more times. He parried Di Maria’s long range effort, and later on produced yet another stunning save, pushing Otamendi’s effort onto the post.
Ospina is set to become Arsenal’s number two goalkeeper once they sign Petr Cech, but with this performance, the Colombian proved that he is still a world class goalkeeper on his day.
Throughout this tournament, Jorge Valdivia has been one of Chile’s star players, and continued his impressive form in a narrow 1-0 win over Copa America holders Uruguay. It was obvious that Uruguay would sit deeper and narrow, so Valdivia was always going to be crucial in trying to break through Uruguay’s excellent defense. In what proved to be a physical first half, Valdivia stood out, dictating the game and creating chances for his teammates with his excellent passing. However, Uruguay stood firm and the game was goalless at half time.
Valdivia continued to dictate play early in the second half, creating more chances and linking up with teammate Isla on numerous occasions, although to no avail. However, the game changed in the 63rd minute, when Uruguay striker Edison Cavani was controversially given a second yellow card, leaving Uruguay with 10 men. Due to this, Chile got an even stronger hold on the game, and with nine minutes left on the clock, finally got their reward.
Unsurprisingly, it was Valdivia who created the winning goal, again linking up with Isla, who controlled Valdivia’s short pass, and blasted the ball into the bottom corner. Over the course of the game, Valdivia completed five key passes, and also made two key dribbles. Vidal has been getting most of the headlines for Chile in this tournament, for both the right and the wrong reasons, but in this clash, it was Valdivia who stood out, to help Chile reach the semi-finals.
There were high expectations for Derlis Gonzalez going into Copa America. After a very impressive club season with Basel, where he got six goals and ten assists in all competitions, many people felt that he 21 year old would be a key player for Paraguay. This expectation was in line with Outside of the Boot’s recommendation, having named him in the list of 100 Young Players to Watch in 2015. Although the youngster has shown glimpses of his excellent talent, particularly in his impact from the bench against Argentina, his quarter-final display against Brazil was where he truly showed what he’s capable of.
Being deployed on the right wing, Gonzalez was a constant threat to the Brazilian side with his passing, energy and dangerous shooting ability. Although he only completed 23 passes throughout the game, five of those were key passes and created chances. He also attempted eight passes, with four of them reaching a teammate. Not only was he impressive in open play, but also clinical from the spot. He scored the crucial equaliser from the spot, and also converted the winning penalty.
Paraguay will now face Argentina in the semi-final, and if he can produce another performance to match his previous one against them, then Paraguay have a perfectly good chance of reaching the final.
Tactical Analysis: Argentina 1-0 Uruguay by Miles Olusina
Tactical Analysis: Brazil 0-1 Colombia by Albin Sheqiri
Group A Review by Mark Ooi
Group B Review by Finley Crebolder
Group C Review by Eric Devin
5 Young Players to Watch at the Copa America by Eric Devin