Is the Copa America part of the 2010-2011 season, the final tournament, marking the last match before we begin 2011-2012? Or does it belong to the new season and year, setting standards (low ones) and maybe even hinting at the future and the quality of football we’ll be seeing this year.
This theory has no basis, but maybe it does has some grasp on reality – Spain’s win in the 2010 World Cup opened a year, a season in which Barcelona became conquerors again – winning the La Liga for the third straight time and the Champions League for the second time in three years. Yes, a lot of people hate the “Barca love” or “Messi Fever“, but there’s no arguing about the fact that this has been the best team in Europe for three years now, playing the best football. You can argue about taste, quality and what is considered “attractive, positive play“. In my opinion, Barcelona epitomize that, plus a very strong defense that builds on possession and an incredible midfield.
It wasn’t only that Barcelona returned to the top of the European competition. They thwarted Real Madrid, again, more importantly Jose Mourinho. A great manager, tactical, clever, a lightning rod for the media while his players can fully concentrate on football and not on criticism. He stepped over the line this year – the whining, the complaining, the excuses. He has been quiet this summer, as if admitting that he needs his team and achievements to do the talking again.
Lille, a wonderful refresher with fun to watch football captured their first Ligue 1 title in ages. AC Milan finally won and beat boring, boring Inter to the title. Manchester United might not have been as flashy as others, but they were better to watch than a dull Chelsea side which was void of life after an incredible start. And I forgot Porto, who at times looked like the best show in the continent with Falcao, Hulk and the others. Can’t wait to watch them in the Champions League.
And then came the 2011 Copa America. Two borderline brutal teams, with Paraguay being the less star-studded side, reaching the Copa finals. It’s not that we’re against the underdogs or surprises, but at least we need pleasent surprises. Penalties and penalties all over again. Paraguay, let me remind you again, haven’t won a single match in this tournament. Brazil and Argentina? We’ve been through this. Argentina had one nice game, but returned to being freightened and caving under the pressure bunch very quickly. Brazil never really showed up.
Despite my optimistic nature, I see the Copa America as a crow carrying bad news. Dark Wings, Dark Words, for those of you who have been watching Game of Thrones or reading the Songs of Fire and Ice series. I highly recommend, but that’s a whole different subject. It’s not that Mourinho or Inter winning the titles is exactly bad or evil, but in a weird POV that makes me always try and split things into black and white, I think that tactical, boring football isn’t exactly what most of us want to see.