Brazil is the site for this year’s Copa América where eight teams look to advance from the three groups. This makes each match extremely valuable, because two teams that finish third in their group will still advance. Brazil came in as the favorites to win, while Chile has taken home the trophy in the past two competitions. Each squad has played their first match so where do they stand and how confident should they be?
Brazil (1-0-0, 3 points)
The hosts secured all three points over Bolivia in a dominating fashion, three to nil. Brazil out-shot Bolivia 20-5 by scoring all three in the second half and did not let Bolivia possess the ball whatsoever. They deployed a well-balanced attack and saw a passing success rate of 89%. Coutinho netted two goals to ignite his hot start. Maybe Brazil should have won by more than three, but its hard to find something wrong in their contest. They will look to keep rolling against Venezuela.
Peru (0-1-0, 1 point)
Peru will feel like they lost two points rather than gaining one point after the match against Venezuela. They had a goal overturned by VAR in the first ten minutes and played a man up for the last fifteen minutes due to a red card by Venezuela. Following the red card, Peru was shell-shocked. They did not score in the two minute later when they had two golden chances. Wuilker Faríñez makes an incredible diving save and the rebound shot hit the post. Being slated in a group with Brazil, points come at a commodity and Peru left two on the board. They will look to turn it around where Bolivia is up next for them.
Venezuela (0-1-0, 1 point)
Faríñez stole Venezuela a point with his solid netminding as they tie Peru. This was the first draw after eight meetings between the countries. They were able to hold Peru scoreless after Mago received his second yellow. Even though they did not score, momentum will be on their side and they can grow off this match. Venezuela built up solid counterattacking chances that will be necessary against Brazil. Adjustments will need to be made from the manager since Mago will be unavailable so keep an eye for who replaces him. MLS fans that tuned in did not get to see Josef Martínez, as he was not subbed in. Waiting for them next is Brazil.
Bolivia (0-0-1, 0 points)
Bolivia was dealt a not ideal first match against the hosts. They were inferior on the field and in the crowd losing 3-0. They had a successful first half with the score being tied but then the avalanche of Brazil arrived in the second half. Bolivia’s sole focus was attacking the right side of the field where they generated 55% of their chances. However, they only put a single shot on net and possessed the ball for 24% of the time. Things will need to change in their next match against Peru if they want to remain in contention.
Colombia (1-0-0, 3 points)
Colombia must feel ecstatic after their 2-0 win against Argentina. After an ugly first half with no shots on net, the second half provided fireworks backed by Roger Martínez and Duván Zapata. Martínez received a long switch and unleashed a rocket into the corner of the goal in the 71st minute. The Colombian manager, Carlos Queiroz, had a significant impact on the game as each goal scorer came on as a sub. Coming off a perfect start to group play, Qatar is waiting for them.
Paraguay (0-1-0, 1 point)
Paraguay surrendered a 2-0 lead in the second half to tie Qatar 2-2. Miguel Almirón looked sharp as he tallied two key passes that led to their two goals. Derlis González scored a goal but will be regretting his offsides position that led to VAR overturning a goal. There are mixed emotions coming from this game because they were out possessed and gave up the lead late. A strong showing will be needed to secure a point or points against Argentina.
Qatar (0-1-0, 1 point)
In their first Copa América appearance, Qatar obtained a point in comeback fashion against Paraguay. Their 2-2 draw has solid building blocks for them to make some noise as a dark horse in Group B. Their advantage in total passes and possession paid off with under 25 minutes remaining when Qatar was able to score both of their goals. They will be underdogs again in their next match against Colombia.
Argentina (0-0-1, 0 points)
Argentina is in unfamiliar territory, as they were dealt their first ever opening round Copa América loss. Questions and lack of chemistry is quite like this Argentina side though. Ángel Di María and the rest of the midfield did not control possession which is crucial for this squad. Additionally, Messi and Sergio Agüero lost possession five times resulting in turnovers. Be that as it may, Argentina put together a solid 25 minutes after halftime where they will look to build off. They will need to turn it around and secure three points against Paraguay to escape last place.
Uruguay (1-0-0, 3 points)
Consistency runs through this Uruguay side as they look strong where they handle Ecuador with ease 4-0. Lodeiro, Cavani and Suárez led the way with a goal each. Lodeiro’s and Cavani’s flashy goals were highlighted in SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays of the weekend. A red card was issued to Ecuador while Uruguay was leading 1-0, therefore that ensured smooth sailing for them. The wind should be behind their sails again when they square up against Japan.
Chile (1-0-0, 3 points)
A late goal in the first half jump-starts the defending champions in a 4-0 win over Japan. Erick Pulgar’s 41st minute goal and solid play defensively in the midfield showed that Chile is still here with three points. The blowout can be attributed to winning 25 tackles with Pulgar contributing 6 on the wings to stop any sort of opposition attack. Look for Chile to come out with three points in mind against an Ecuador side that was throttled.
Ecuador (0-0-1, 0 points)
Ecuador could not have started any worse than they did against Uruguay in a 4-0 defeat. The match saw them muster two shots total and were dominated in possession. José Quintero’s red card in the 24th minute set them behind even further than the current score of 1-0. To make matters worse, they allowed an own goal with 12 minutes remaining. Hopefully they can find a sense of direction or they could face the same sort of defeat by Chile.
Japan (0-0-1, 0 points)
Japan receives a tough defeat by Chile where nothing could break their way. They are going to be leaving this match disappointed they could not put one in the back of the net. They generated 13 shots with three being quality scoring changes. They are hoping to fare better than their 1999 team that competed at Copa América. That team finished with a single point. Their chances of locking up a point does not look much better as they face a hot Uruguay side next.
Match to Watch in Round 2: Argentina vs Paraguay, Wednesday June 19th. This match will shape Group B significantly plus we will see if Messi can rebound off a poor performance.