Many football fans starved of top quality football on their TV’s had long awaited the start of the Copa America. The tournament, hosted by Argentina, was set to showcase some of the finest footballing talents on the planet. From the undisputed king Lionel Messi to his Argentine supporting cast of Aguero, Tevez, Pastore et al. Brazil offer two bona fide superstars for the future, Neymar and Ganso alongside more established names such as Dani Alves and Pato. Luis Suarez & Edinson Cavani look to lead the charge from World Cup surprise package Uruguay. Chile meanwhile showcase the highly rated and much sought after Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal may also be looking to use this tournament as a chance to establish his claim to be a top class midfielder. These are just some of the names that it was hoped would light up the pitch.
Well, that’s not quite been the case. After a surprisingly untacky opening ceremony Argentina and Bolivia got us under way. With Argentine manager Sergio Batista succumbing to public or political pressure and shoehorning Carlos Tevez into a team that he doesn’t fit into, the hosts already under pressure looked disjointed. They struggled against an organised Bolivia side who did an excellent job of frustrating their opponents. Ever Banega’s shocking attempt at goal line clearing had you thinking that might be how the night ended. It probably would have if it weren’t for the intervention of Kun Aguero with a sublime volley.
Next up Colombia struggled to overcome a young Costa Rica side to claim top spot in the group. Not that either side looked likely to offer much to scare Argentina if Batista can man up and include Higuain over Tevez which the team is crying out for.
Overall on the pitch it feels like a European Championship or the last World Cup, lots of unadventurous football with teams set out not to lose. There have been a lot of cards and very few goals and Aguero’s goal aside not very pretty to watch. Off the pitch of course it’s been typically South American with organisers losing national anthems, stadiums lacking internet and communications for journalists and all manner of other problems.
Not least of which was shown in the Brazil game which kicked off 10-15 minutes late and had a half time break lasting 20 minutes. Players were seemingly able to come and go as they please. Whilst this may be a normal occurrence in South America they are now selling the rights to European and US broadcasters for decent amounts of money. Big networks here and in America won’t stand for their schedules being messed with to such a degree. CONMEBOL need to sharpen up their off pitch activities as much as it’s hoped the teams raise their games.
Of course as I write this, Group C, which is potentially the most intriguing group has yet to kick off. Uruguay kick off against Peru tonight and with Cavani, Suarez and Forlan seem well set to begin the display of firepower. Chile, no longer coached by Marcelo Bielsa will still look to build on their impressive World Cup performance and start things off against a young Mexican side who will be looking to shrug off the prostitute scandal that has embroiled the likes of Jonathan Dos Santos.
This tournament still has time to excite us, let’s hope it shrugs off the slow start and explodes very soon. Perhaps even by the time you read this.
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