Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Argentina and Brazil make uninspiring start to the Copa America

With all 12 Copa America teams up and running its fair to say the start to the tournament is very tepid. Disappointing opening draws for Argentina, Brazil and suprise World Cup semi-finalisits Uruguay meant the tournament has failed to ingite so far, with four draws in the opening six games.

The hosts Argentina kicked off the 2011 tournament, and despite Sergio Batista's claim to play the Barcelona way, they failed to overcome Bolivia. With three defensive minded centre midfielders in Ever Banega, Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Mascherano, Argentina failed to break Bolivia down, with only two first half chances of note falling to Carlos Tevez and Ezequiel Lavezzi. The aformentioned duo infact had a poor game of the blue and white of Argentina, with both now favourites to be left out of their second match with group leaders Colombia. And despite sub Sergio Aguero's second half leveller the hosts kicked off in poor fashion.

Argentina's group A rivals Colombia overcame 10 men Costa Rica 1-0. An early red card for Costa Rica's Randall Brenes saw Colombian manager Francisco Maturana bring on another centre forward in Huge Rodallega and their extra attacking impetious paid divedend when Adrian Ramos broke from midfield to score the games winner.

If Argentina were bad in their opener then Brazil were poor as they stumbled to a goalless draw with group minnows Venezuela. When you think of Brazil you think of their samba attacking football, but currently their teams greatest strength is their defensive quality, and with the likes of Maicon and David Luiz on the bench, their strength in depth is very evident. However going forward they've only scored three goals in their previous six matches, and never looked like breaking down a young and resolute Venezuela side. Lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation that can alter to a 4-3-3, their forwards mirror those of Barcelona in height, however differ in quality. The three forwards Robinho and Pato played their best football for AC Milan last year when Zlatan Imbrahimovic was in the side, and without the threat of a real target man in their side it was all too easy for Venezula to keep Brazil at bay. The other group B game saw Paraguay draw 0-0 with Ecuador meaning all four teams have one point.

Bayern Leverkusen's Arturo Vidal scored the winner as Chile came from behind to beat a far from full strength Mexico team, who on the back of their recent Gold Cup success decided to take a second string squad to Argentina. The other two sides in Group C in Uruguay and Peru drew 1-1 as Liverpool's Luis Suarez rescued a point from the World Cup semi-finalists.

Round two predictions
Argentina 2 Colombia 1
Bolivia 1 Costa Rica 0
Brazil 1 Paraguay 1
Ecuador 2 Venezula 0
Uruguay 1 Chile 1
Peru 1 Mexico 0

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