The Copa America was once considered to be the international tournament (outside of the World Cup) that showcased the best continent in the world when it comes to the beautiful game. Unfortunately, it no longer seems as if that’s the case, with the last four FIFA World Cup winners coming from the continent of Europe.
Still, even with that being the case, Copa America is still incredibly competitive and serves as a reminder of what the nations involved are capable of.
Here we go again
This year it has been the turn of Brazil to host the tournament, just five years after also hosting the World Cup. It’s no secret that there hasn’t been a great deal of optimism amongst fans in the lead-up to it all kicking off, and after their group stage performances, there still seems to be some trepidation regarding how far they are capable of going in this thing.
Last night, though, as reported by BBC and The Guardian, they were just about able to avoid an upset against Paraguay as they made their way through to the semi-finals of this year’s Copa America. Paraguay have a habit of grinding out results at this level of competition, and when it got to penalties, many were expecting them to do the same again.
The game itself was pretty unremarkable, though, and it does leave you to wonder how far Brazil are capable of going with this current squad. Even if Neymar was fit it doesn’t feel like it’d be all too different, because there just seems to be this mental block that exists within the team. It happened at last year’s World Cup, and they’re very lucky that they weren’t embarrassed on home soil yet again here.
Logically speaking it seems like they’ll be able to overcome either Argentina or Venezuela in the semis, but even if that does prove to be the case, the final is going to be a whole different ballgame. In all likelihood, they’ll be going up against Uruguay, Chile or Colombia, all of whom are more than capable of getting the job done against the hosts.
Overcoming the odds
“Brazil, who last won in 2007, were initially awarded a penalty following West Ham defender Balbuena’s foul on Liverpool forward Firmino when he was through on goal – but the decision was overturned after a video assistant referee check showed the offence took place outside the box.
The hosts peppered the opposition goal in Porto Alegre, registering 26 attempts – Manchester City forward Jesus shot narrowly wide from close range before Chelsea winger Willian hit a post in the final minute.
Brazil were beaten by Paraguay on penalties in 2011 and 2015, but they triumphed this time despite Firmino dragging his spot-kick wide when they led 3-2.”
The way that the above information was phrased would lead anyone to believe that we’re supposed to praise Brazil for being unable to break Paraguay down and having to resort to a penalty shootout.
It’s all a bit odd, really, and they need to improve pretty quickly.