Featured photo courtesy of Silvia Izquierdo/AP
The 2015 Copa America held in Chile has lived up to the hype through the first few days of competition with goals, tension, and high drama abound. From Venezuela’s shocking upset of Colombia to the late heroics from the Brazilians, Rhino Press has you covered with analysis of all the weekend’s games and predictions and a look ahead to the rest of this continental mega tourney.
Chile 2-0 Ecuador
The first match of the tourney in Santiago was a tense encounter between the two early favourites of Group A, Chile and Ecuador. Both teams played out to an even 0-0 at the half, with Chile definitely using the raucous home crowd to its advantage in setting up numerous offensive opportunities in the first 45 minutes. The Chileans finally broke through the deadlock with Juventus’s Arturo Vidal smashing home a penalty in the 66th minute, scoring the tourney’s first goal. Vargas later scored again for La Roja, sending Chile on to a solid opening victory, leaving the Ecuadorians searching for answers.
Mexico 0-0 Bolivia
Mexico showcased a lacklustre effort on the offensive side of the pitch en route to a shocking 0-0 draw against the lowly Bolivians. Credit definitely went to Bolivia in a strong defensive display, however, El Tri definitely should have come out of this match with 3 points.
Uruguay 1-0 Jamaica
This match was slightly shadowed with some early controversy as Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani seemed to suggest that Jamaica was an African nation in his prematch press conference. Controversies aside, Jamaica played an outstanding game and were definitely the better team as of the action on the pitch. However, Uruguay were able to make the crucial breakthrough as Cristian Rodriguez’s 51st minute goal ultimately turned out to be the game winner. No love was lost as after the game, Cavani went and clarified his comments to the Jamaicans who happily posed for photographs with the PSG striker.
Argentina 2-2 Paraguay
Heading into the locker room at the half, Argentina had built a seemingly confident 2-0 advantage over their opponents, Paraguay after goals from the attacking duo of Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi. However, the second half was a completely different story. The Argentine back line seemed to be missing at times as the Paraguayans rallied back to score not one, but two goals with late sub Lucas Barrios’s 89th minute equalizer sending the two teams on with one point apiece after a match in which the Argentines definitely should have come away victors.
Colombia 0-1 Venezuela
Colombia went into this match expecting to carry on some of the momentum from last year’s world cup and walking away victors. Venezuela had other ideas, however, as they held the deadly Colombian offense scoreless and Zenit St. Petersburg’s Salomon Rondon’s header in the 59th minute was enough to carry the underdog Venezuelan side to victory in front of a sea of shocked Colombian supporters.
Brazil 2-1 Peru
Peru seemed to carry on the day’s upset theme as they jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the third minute following another defensive blunder by the much-maligned David Luiz lead to a Christian Cueva tap-in in the 3rd minute. Nevertheless, this lead only lasted two minutes as Brazilian starlet Neymar, fresh off a treble with FC Barcelona, was able to score a quick goal off a counter-attack in the 4th minute.
Ecuador 2-3 Bolivia
Bolivia shocked the footballing world once again en route to a stunning 3-2 upset over early tourney dark horses Ecuador. Fresh off a draw with a strong Mexican side, Bolivia showed once again that they will not lie down as they took a 3-0 lead into halftime. West Ham striker Enner Valencia’s goal in the 47’ for Ecuador was the beginning of an attempted comeback for El Tri but they could only manage to score once more with Miller Bolanos’s strike in the 80’. Bolivia looks set to advance to the quarters while Ecuador faces a surprisingly early exit.
Chile 3-3 Mexico
Chile and Mexico entertained all footballing fans with an exhilarating match of football featuring 6 goals. Mexico’s Vuoso opened the goal scoring tally in the 20th minute yet that 1-0 Mexican lead lasted only about a minute as Arturo Vidal scored the equalizer for Chile in the 21’. Raul Jimenez responded to his many critics by getting on the scoresheet with a goal 7 minutes later to put Mexico on top again 2-1. However, Chile’s Vargas was able to tie it all up at 2 goals apiece heading into the half. Vidal surely thought he had a game winner when he slotted home a penalty in the 54’, yet, Vuoso completed his double to tie the game at 3 again. Although the game finished with both teams coming away with a point each, Chile surely felt robbed after two late controversial offside calls that nullified two potential Chilean gamewinners.
Hot or Cold?
Bolivia, a team many predicted would finish with no points in a tough Group A, is sitting pretty with 4 points after two matches, well on course to advance to the knockout stages of the competition. After drawing Mexico and shockingly defeating Ecuador, even a loss to a tough Chilean side could result in a disciplined Bolivian side entering the quarters.
Cold: Radamel Falcao and Colombia
Falcao, fresh off a horrendous club season with Manchester United, definitely hoped that a strong Copa performance would raise his market value in the transfer market. However, a lackluster performance against a significantly weaker Venezuelan side, with only a solitary shot on goal will not improve his standing in Europe one bit as his side fell to a dismantling defeat.
Marquee Matches and Predictions:
(All matches on BeIN Sports)
Tues Jun 16th- Argentina v Uruguay, 6 30 PM
Argentina takes this rivalry match over their neighbors 2-1, finally getting a victory in this Copa America.
Wed Jun 17th- Brazil v Colombia, 7 PM
Colombia, fresh off an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Venezuela are able to salvage a draw against their bigger neighbors, 1-1.
Fri Jun 19th- Mexico v Ecuador, 4 PM
Mexico finally shows life in this must-win encounter against the other El Tri, 3-2 to Mexico.
Sat Jun 20th- Uruguay v Paraguay, 2 PM
Uruguay secures second place in Group B with a solid victory over the upset-minded Paraguayan squad, 2-0 to Uruguay.
Sun Jun 21st- Brazil v Venezuela, 4 30 PM
Brazil takes first in a seemingly placid Group C with a big win over the Venezuelans, 4-1 to Brazil.
Knockout Stage Projections:
(Top 2 in each group plus best two 3rd place teams)
Group A– Chile, Bolivia, Mexico (Ecuador Eliminated)
Group B-Argentina, Uruguay (Jamaica and Paraguay Eliminated)
Group C– Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela (Peru Eliminated)
Quarter Finals Projections:
QF1: Chile v Venezuela
QF2: Bolivia v Colombia
QF3: Argentina v Mexico
QF4: Brazil v Uruguay