The 2015 Copa America hasn’t been a very good tournament. It has nothing to do with teams like Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay going home earlier than expected (at least what they expected) but everything to do with the kind of football and officiating we’re seeing from pretty much all the South American teams.
Defensive. Defensive. Defensive. Peru against Bolivia wasn’t bad, but that shouldn’t be the marquee match of an entire footballing federation. Except for the matches in Chile’s group, that included a ‘B’ Mexico side, Bolivia and Ecuador, this tournament has been about scoring once and then defending, or simply playing to ruin the opponent’s day.
All the cliches about South American football, latin style and grace and what not have been disproven a long time ago. The best football tournament in the world involving national teams isn’t the World Cup. Why? Because while Argentina and others do make it to the semifinals and final (at least last time), the best football is constantly displayed by European nations, which is why the Euro, every four years, surpasses everything that comes before or after it in a two-year radius.
There’s a difference between physical football which is part of this game and simply being violent, cheating and doing everything possible to destroy the experience. It’s good that Gonzalo Jara might be thrown out by his German club for his despicable act of sticking his finger up Edinson Cavani’s ass. That’s borderline sexual assault, and it’s even more amazing that Cavani was the one sent off for that incident, although Jara was punished.
Brazil continue to be a massive difference to what people foolishly expect of them. This isn’t a side relying on creative players to carry it. Without Neymar, Dunga’s tendency to play defensive, conservative and losing football is too hard to ignore. Scoring a fantastic opener in the draw and eventual penalty loss to Paraguay was written in the stars even before the match was played.
Chile seem to be one of only two or three teams in this tournament with the desire to constantly attack. It doesn’t always work, but excluding Jara, there’s talent that the manager is actually willing to exploit on this team. The problem is how easy the road was made for them to reach the final, although that’s not the first or last time the hosts get a pass like that.
Argentina are no longer surprising in their low scoring matches and overall slugginess. It isn’t just a matter of opponents (best seen in the matches against Uruguay and Colombia) playing anti-football to cancel out Argentina’s advantages. This is a side that doesn’t score a lot of goals because it doesn’t play like that. Packed with incredible strikers and a very strong defense, Argentina count on always having just a bit more than their rivals instead of going gung ho, realizing their relatively weaker midfield might cost them in these matches. Having Lionel Messi, as it turns out, isn’t enough. Not when his teammates aren’t as good as the ones he has at Barcelona.