Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Batista out

Argentina has one of the most talented group of players in the world, and yet they have done nothing on the national team, and the recent debacle now had its consequences by Sergio Batista being fired as national coach. This is about time; he has been a lousy coach, and Argentina has slid down the world ranking while him coaching them. Next to him, with all his problems and criticism on Diego Maradona (much of which was basically because people didn´t like him, rather than his coaching skills), seems completely misplaced. Maradona was a great coach next to Batista. It seems that Alejandro Sabella is next in line to become coach; it will be interesting to see if he can solve the soap-opera saga that the Argentinean national team has become.

I have five suggestions to what Batista can do next:
  • Become a football journalist for News of the World
  • Clean Julio Grondona's swimming pool
  • Spend all the time in the barber's saloon
  • Sign up for a reality show
  • Coach Paraguay

Monday, July 25, 2011

Football ignorance

I have in general been happy about Venezuela´s performance in the Copa América, mostly because it is nice to see people here so happy for their side. However, I have before said that Venezuela is a footballing ignorant country, and I think that the TV broadcasting today showed it all: while the final between Uruguay and Paraguay was taking place, the TV channel that has shown much of the tournament, kept showing the arrival of the Venezuelan national team, which was being received by thousands of people, who preferred to see these guys than the actual final.
No matter how disappointed a fan may be (and I was not to see any of my favourite teams there), real football fans would watch the final, instead of clapping at some guys who lost 4-1 in the bronze match to Perú yesterday. And this is not to diminish the fact of Venezuela´s great performance! But it just shows to me that Venezuelan´s happiness was more about nationalism than about football interest. This is not uncommon in many countries when they do well; during World Cups suddenly a lot of people are interested in football, and I often hear people saying, "I only like football when it is countries playing".
That is really when you know they are fucking football-ignorant donkeys!
Although many do not seem to get this, football is a sport, and it is not a defining moment for nations! Venezuela is no more or less great after its performance in the Copa América; Venezuela's football team is, and hopefully its almost non-existant footballing culture may grow with this.
And football fans want to watch a football final!

Uruguay champion

In the last World Cup, Uruguay made it to the semifinals as the best South American side. They have now sealed their status as the best side on the continent by winning the 2011 Copa América. It wasn't that they were brilliant, but they were simply the most intelligent and consistent side of the tournament, and in the final there was never doubt about the result as the Uruguayans destroyed the lousy Paraguayan side 3-0. Luis Suárez scored the first goal (and was made MVP of the entire tournament) while Diego Forlán ended his dry scoring spell (he has not scored on the national team since the World Cup) by scoring Uruguay´s last two goals.
Paraguay... they were as pathetic as they have been trhoughout the tournament, where they have relied on luck to make it so far. It is sad for South American football that such a side, playing the most negative football one can imagine, makes it so far, and we should thank Uruguay for sticking a few goals up theirs.

It has nevertheless been a disappointing tournament for football fans in general. Few goals, very tactical games, and not enough of the technical brilliance that should characterize South American football. The two greats, Argentina and Brazil, were enormous disappointments, and both teams should look at themselves to find out what is wrong. Colombia and Chile could not performa when it counted, while the positives were Perú and Venezuela, two smaller footballing nations who will go into the World Cup qualifiers with renewed hopes and strong confident sides. Uruguay will remain favourites; they have an incredibly stable side, and very strong youth sides, so the future looks bright for the best team in South America.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to motivate the Paraguayans

Sometimes there simply is no justice in football. Sometimes the one team that plays like a bunch of violent shits wins, and this has just happened with Paraguay, who has made it to the final of the Copa América by not winning a single match in ordinary time. Instead, they retort to defensiveness, dirty tricks and filthy provocations to make it to the penalty kicks, where their only "good" player (I say so, because you cannot call someone good who plays for such a team), Justo Villar, takes care of business for them.
Paraguay is simply the last shit one wants football to be known for, and the very last thing that one wants to come out of South American football!

Venezuela was far better, specially in extra time, but the football Gods were not with the Vinotinto.
That said, they have been great - the true revelation of the tournament! Venezuelans should be proud, and stand behind their side for the coming World Cup qualifiers. It would be fun for me to meet some Venezuelans in Brazil in 2014, and tell them that I lived in their country when they emerged from the shadows of international football.

I have a suggestion of top-5 things that they can motivate Paraguay´s team with for the final:
5. An education (in Spanish)
4. To change their yellow and red cards into cash
3. Work visas for Argentina
2. To rename the team "Paragay"
1. Paternity tests

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Football tears

I am a MAN, and men don't cry.
Unless it is football of course.
As the last times disappointments pass, although leaving a scar, it leads me to reflect about times when football has, if not made me cry, at least made me so fucking depressed that I swore never to watch football again.
Mostly until the following match…

In no particular order of depression:

1. Denmark_Spain, 1986: I remember this as the very first game where I cried, the greatest Danish side lost 1-5 to a mediocre Spain...
2. Denmark-Spain, 1993: the defending European champions did not qualify to the 1994 World Cup after losing 1-0 on a lame goal to a lame Spanish side.
3. Norway-Brazil, 1998: I could not accept that the greatest footballing nation on Earth lost to a Norwegian side that played as exciting as watching paint dry.
4. Brondy-Widzew Lodz, 1996: To qualify for the Champions League Brondby had lost the Poles 2-1 away. Leading 3-0 at home, it all seemed sure, but it ended 3-2…
5. Brondby-Roma, 1991: Rudi Volley scored a late winner for Roma to deny Brondby a place un the UEFA Cup final.
6. Valencia-Real Madrid, 2000: Real Madrid won 3-0 in the CL final in one of the saddest days of my life.
7. Valencia-Bayern Munich 2001: A devastating penalty shootout gave Munich the Champions League title.
8. Italy-France, 2006: I was a big Zidane fan, and besides being sad that he ended like that, it was sad to see the Italians win an otherwise great tournament.
9. Ghana-Uruguay, 2010: All I can say is that Ghana should have been the first African semifinalists in a World Cup.
10. Argentina-Uruguay, 2011: Fucking piece of shit...
11. Brondby-Sporting Lisbon, 2010: I actually didn’t watch the matches, but Brondby's away victory had given me hope that they were back in Europe, only to be shattered one week later.
12. Argentina-Cameroon 1990: It wasn't the loss itself, but it was the rejoicing of everyone at the time who seemed to hate Argentina, and not thinking that Cameroon had played extremely violent.
13. Argentina-England, 2002: Argentina lost 0-1 to its European arch-rivals, and was out of the World Cup.
14. Argentina-Netherlands, 1998: In spite of a great Dennis Bergkamp loss, I felt Argentina should have made it further.
15. Denmark-Brazil, 1998: If Norway could beat Brazil, Denmark surely should have in this World Cup quarterfinal; they played great, but lost 2-3…

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Some people are calling this a historical Copa América. Admittedly, the tactical standard has been high, and all teams have proven hard to defeat. With the big teams not having performed, it seems any idiot can win this cup with discipline and defending. It is not a tournament that has been characterized by the technical skill and flair that South American football is known for. Perhaps those times are gone. The semifinals of the Copa América will not be some that will catch the world's attention, nor live on in the memory of football fans, unless you support one of the teams, or, like me, live in Venezuela.

  • Uruguay-Peru
It is just difficult to have sympathy with Uruguay. A small country whose greatest moment was to win a trophy of eleven kicking a ball in 1950, and who made it to the semifinals of the last world cup on penalty kicks against a Ghanaian side that deserved to win, both for their style, but also for their fair play. If they deserve any reluctant credit for anything, it is for eliminating an Argentinean side that should be in for a big overhaul.

Peru is a team of Guinea-pig eaters, who are mostly in the semifinal thanks to their foreign coach. Truth is that Peru has done nothing in football since the 1970s, and since then Peruvian press and fans have spent most of the time trashing their national side. A team with fans like that hardly deserve a trophy.

  • Paraguay-Venezuela
Against Brazil, Paraguay had one shot on goal to win the match on Brazil's poor penalty shooting. If that is not luck…? Some people have called them the Italians of South America due to their defensive style, but I believe that is to underservedly credit the Paraguayans, who surely barely reach Italy to its heels. If I have to say something nice about Paraguay, it's that they have found two lady fans with big titties to show around in the stadium during the matches; perhaps two of the few women in the country that the president has not slept with.

Every team I support always loses, so I will try not to support Venezuela. Football-wise, they are the only semifinalist that has played half-way entertaining, but has also been lucky.
That said, Venezuela is a baseball country. Before this tournament nobody talked about their footballing side (which was decent, even if anyone here did follow football!), but all of a sudden everyone seems to be an expert. I am happy for Venezuelans, and if they carry through the sensation and win, I will sit on my fucking chair alone and look out of the fucking window to see Caracas celebrating, and wish I were part of it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Messi Top-5 Excuses

Lionel Messi has been very criticised for his role in Argentina's debacle at the Copa América, so I thought I would give Mr. Messi some help in providing some excuses for the performance:

5) "I get confused when not playing in blue-red stripes"
4) "mumble, mumble, mumble"
3) "What do you expect? I am a dwarf!"
2) "Does anyone speak Catalonian?"
1) "There is only one "El Diego"!"

The bitter football fanatic

I cannot not watch football. But I am angry and bitter, so I think that from now on, I am renaming my site the bitter football fanatic. Nobody reads this shit anyway, so I am going to be a hooligan blogger.
And first, I just watched Brazil get eliminated by little Paraguay. Brazil should have won, but Paraguay´s goalkeeper Justo Villar was an impenetrable wall today. And well, I think it remains the first time in history that Brazil has ever missed four penalties in a match!
While it is pretty pathetic that players from the greatest footballing nation in the world cannot shoot a penalty kick, it seems even more pathetic that such a mediocre nation as Paraguay has eliminated the winners of the last 3 Copa Américas. Paraguay plays boring football, and besides Villar, who absolutely had one of the luckiest days in his life, I think Paraguay´s national team is worth as much as a dead chicken.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

And I am never watching football again

And this is my last post. It is simply too fucking depressing. All teams I ever support always lose and play like shit.
I don´t even have anyone to watch football with in this football-ignorant country, but it is not worth watching football when it just makes one´s life worse than it already is.
I am going to find another hobby.
Good luck to all you people who will contiue to watch football.

The worst day

I had a bad feeling about today. And indeed, today was a horrible day. It seems all teams I support always lose, and this continues. Colombia lost, but much, MUCH worse, Argentina was eliminated by Uruguay from the Copa América today.
I knew it could happen. Uruguay is one of the best teams in the world, and matches between these two giants are notably unpredictable. However, I was hoping, together with many Argentineans, that this would be the Cup where Argentina would blossom with its team of wonderful players.
But these were simply not very wonderful... First half was Argentina's, but in the second half a ten-man Uruguayan side played with the tenacity and stubbornness that their coach, the legendary Oscar Tabarez, has said characterizes Uruguayans. Argentina seemed unable to break the disciplined Uruguayan side, and if they did, Gonzalo Higuaín would miss, or the outstanding Lazio goalkeeper, Fernando Muslera, would take it.
Uruguay was obviously happy when the match ended and it went into penalty kicks. As in South Africa two years ago, when they defeated Ghana in another match that kicked out one of my favourite sides,the Uruguayans are very sure of their spectacular cool. And indeed, they were far superior and never seemed to miss a beat, winning by a narrow margin when Carlos Tevez missed for Argentina.

This is a time for reckoning for Argentina. A team of superstars that is obviously not working, least of all Lionel Messi, who is more or less mediocre when playing somewhere where they don´t speak Catalonian. There is no doubt that the much-criticised Maradona was a far superior coach to Sergio Batista, who seems to think that football is only about dressing up and calling up guys with a high salary.
This is a very, very bad Saturday.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Colombian crash against Perú

Colombia has a thing for disappointing when you are expecting something from them. In this tournament they had been great, winning their group ahead of Argentina, and seemingly with some of their players, such as Freddy Guarín and Radamel Falcao, in great shape. On the other hand, Perú had only ended third in its group, working hard, but without impressing. Colombia were huge favourites. But in football in general, and in this tournament in particular, being the favourite has meant little.
Colombia was a shadow of itself. They seemed to play without spirit, and in spite of having some chances, they were too forgiving. Radamel Falcao even missed a penalty, and as the rest of his team, Peruvian goalkeeper Raúl Fernández was concentrated and worked hard. The match ended 0-0 in ordinary time, and in extra time, Colombia continued to play without imagination or clout, even after Perú went ahead 1-0 on a goal by Carlos Lobatón, who took advantage of a misunderstanding between the Colombian goalkeeper Luis Enrique Martinez and his defense. Perú continued solid and concentrated, and in the second half of the extra time went ahead 2-0, when Hamburger SV striker Paolo Guerrero, who played a great match, picked up a ball from the Colombian goalkeeper, ran into the area, and passed the ball to Perú captain, Juan Manuel Vargas, who scored a second for Perú.
Colombia showed nothing.
Now, one has to pay its respect to Perú's players and its coach, Sergio "El Mago" Markarián, who showed that hard work and tactical discipline are still very important if you want to win in football!
Personally, I am hugely disappointed about the Colombian side, but congratulations to the Peruvians!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Copa América Quarterfinals

It has been an excellent Copa América until now, and we can all look forward for a great weekend, now that we have the four quarterfinals:
  • Colombia-Perú
  • Argentina-Uruguay
  • Brazil-Paraguay
  • Chile-Venezuela
Some extremely interesting matches, including one super-classic between Argentina and Uruguay, as well as a for me personally challenging Chile-Venezuela (I was born in Chile and live in Venezuela! Guess who I will support...?).
So if you like good and dramatic football, get some beers, rhum, pisco, cachaca, wine and aguardiente ready, sit back comfortably, and cancel everything else this weekend, which should be all about FÚTBOL!!!!

Great Vinotinto continues!

Venezuela was the only team in group B of the Copa América that before today's final matches was certain to go to the quarterfinals. However, what was not clear was whether they would progress on first, second or third spot.
This being only the second time ever Venezuela progresses in this tournament (and the first time was 4 years ago when they were hosting the tournament themselves), to progress on third spot would be considered a success. However, this Venezuelan side was obviously not satisfied with the leftovers as they went on the pitch against Paraguay today. After only four minutes Málaga's striker, Solomón Rondón, brought Venezuela ahead, and the World Cup quarterfinalists of Paraguay seemed in complete disarray as their usually rock-solid defense seemed open to Venezuelan attacks. It was a pity that Venezuela didn't expand their lead, as Paraguayan efficiency struck back with a messy goal after a corner-kick. Still, 1-1 remained acceptable for Venezuela, although I, as a newly-become Vinotinto fan, was more annoyed at the fact that they were not winning at half-time.
The second half became the best drama of this tournament so far: Venezuela started best, but after another corner-kick, Borussia Dortmund's dangerous striker Lucas Barrios scored a goal that should have been disallowed for hand-ball. Still, Paraguay was proving efficient as Venezuela seemed to become confused about what had happened to the match for them. Not long after, Paraguay scored another goal on a school-book free-kick situation, and it all seemed over for Venezuela. Still, coach Farias insisted on more offensive power and brought on Juan Arango, Giancarlo Maldonado and Miku Fedor. It was this last one who in the 44th minute scored Venezuela's second, and suddenly, in the dying seconds, Venezuela pressed on against the usually cool-headed Paraguayans. In the last second, Venezuela got a corner-kick, and with nothing to lose, sent everything forward, including goalkeeper Renny Vega. And it was in fact Vega who got a header on to Grenddy Perozo, who managed to equalize for Venezuela in the very last second of the match.
I was jumping with myself in my apartment celebrating the goal, although I soon had to admit that it was a lucky Venezuelan side who had given away some silly goals, and until the last seconds, been too nice to the poor Paraguayan defense.
Still: great, GREAT, Vinotinto!!!! I am proud to be here at this time, and can confirm that yet again I have great football-karma on the countries that I live in!

The final positions on the table depended on the last match of the group between Brazil and Ecuador. Brazil did not play a good first half, but managed to score a good goal by Pato, before the talented Felipe Caicedo equalized for Ecuador. In the second half, Brazil finally woke up though, to become the team that everybody expects them to be, and ended winning the match 4-2, enough to give them the first spot in group B, being better than runners-up Venezuela on goal-difference. This means that while Brazil will be facing Paraguay in the quarterfinals, Venezuela will be tested to their best against Chile, who have looked very strong so far in the tournament.
Although the Chileans should know that playing the Vinotinto will be no walkover, the Venezuelans have to work more on not making the mistakes that cost them goals today. If they can correct this, they will surely have a chance of taking yet another historical step for Venezuelan football!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A bright Mexican future

Mexico lost its third consecutive match of the Copa América today, and was for the first time ever eliminated in the first round of this tournament. However, there is much reason to be optimistic about the future if you are a fan of the North American nation. Just before the Copa América Mexico was awesome in winning the North American Gold Cup, with an excellent side with great attacking power. Now, this is not the side that Mexico sent to the Copa América: instead, they sent a largely Under-23 side that was further weakened when eight of its most talented players were sent home for misdeeds with ladies in Ecuador. Still, this weakened youth side was, in spite of losing all three matches, an interesting team, that caused all of its more experienced opponents many troubles.
There can be little doubt that if Mexico had shown up with its strongest side, results would have been different. However, these youths showed that they are already competitive at the highest level.
At the same time as these Mexican youths were playing in Argentina, an even younger Mexican youth side, its Under-17 team, was the triumphant winner of the FIFA World Cup for U-17 after defeating Uruguay's u-17 2-0 in the final.
In August, the FIFA World Cup for U-20 will take place in Colombia, and there can be little doubt that Mexico will be one of the teams to watch out for, and that if this trend continues, Mexico will be looking at a very bright footballing future!

Argentina against Uruguay!

Yesterday's Argentine victory in the Copa América put them in the second spot, where they are to face number 2 in group C. Group C was played today, with Chile defeating Perú on a goal in overtime to take 1st spot, and Uruguay defeating Mexico 1-0, to take second spot. Uruguay, who made it to the semifinal of the World Cup has not seemed too strong, and they had difficulty defeating the Mexican youth side.
But this means that the quarterfinal next weekend will be a repeat of one of the greatest rivalries in football history: Argentina versus Uruguay. These teams, with a proud footballing history have met in numerous dramatic encounters, including world cup qualifiers, Copa América finals, Olympic matches and the very first World Cup final.
There is no doubt that after Argentina's victory against Costa Rica, where the Argentine sleeping giants apparently woke up, and the fact that they are playing at home, makes them big favourites to win. Uruguay has not seemed too strong, and notably their World Cup hero, Diego Forlán seems to be cursed not to score more goals. However, as they showed during the World Cup, Uruguay should never, NEVER, be underestimated. Argentina knows this very well, and knows very well that in matches between these two arch-rivals anything can happen. Who knows? Maybe Messi will have another bad day, while Forlán will find his former force!
No matter what, this is a match that should not be missed by any serious football fans!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Argentina wakes up

Argentina's national team had their backs against the wall against Costa Rica in a match that they had to win if they were not to be the first host-nation ever to be eliminated in the first round of the Copa América. Costa Rica, although playing with a youth side, had in previous matches proved well-organised and disciplined, while Argentina had looked like a mess.
But there was really never any doubt about the result after Argentina went ahead 1-0 at the end of the first half with a goal by Kun Agüero. Until then, Argentina had also dominated against a solid Costa Rican defense, who had nevertheless been lucky in some situations.
In the second half Costa Rica seemed to fall apart, and after Agüero made it 2-0 it turned into a walkover for Argentina, who completely dominated, and 3-0 was not one goal too little for the hosts, who now take the second spot in the group behind Colombia.
Argentina's coach Sergio Batista had made three important changes to the starting lineup: Carlos Téves, Esteban Cambiasso and Ezequiel Lavezzi were replaced by Kun Agüero, Ángel Di María and Gonzalo Higuaín (who nevertheless missed some huge chances!), and this obviously worked much better for the Argentinean side, who although facing a rather lame Costa Rican side, seems much stronger with this lineup. Lionel Messi, who has been criticised a lot seemed much more comfortable with Higuaín in front of him, and in particular with Agüero and Di María running deep (two of the goals came from from Messi passes).
Although I am very happy for Argentina, they still have to convince against stronger opposition in the coming quarterfinal. That said, it is a characteristic of great teams that they are best when they have their back against a wall, and Argentina today showed that!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Unstoppable Colombia

Colombia could, with a victory against Bolivia today, make sure that they would be winners of group A, in front of either Argentina or Costa Rica (who are playing tomorrow). Colombia had no problems winning 2-0 on two goals by the FC Porto striker Radamel Falcao. With Falcao scoring goals, a solid defense (they have conceded no goals) and an excellent midfield, Colombia has looked as the best team so far, but it is now, with the knock-out matches, that true champions will come out. No matter what, it is great to see Colombia and its fans doing so well!

And in the women´s World Cup

I have not been able to watch any matches in the Women's World Cup in Germany (nobody shows such sports in South America...), but I have been following on the internet, and was in awe at the surprising result in the quarterfinals today: the defending champions and hosts, Germany, losing to Japan!
In the other match, France defeated England after penalty kicks, to make it to their first ever semi-final in the Women's World Cup, which will surely be exciting! The two other quartefinals are Sweden-Australia, and a modern classic in Women's football, Brazil-USA!
If you live in a place where you are able to watch it, you should not miss it!

(two) reasons to support Paraguay

Paraguay seems to do this for every large tournament now. And well, I can hardly blame them:

I still hope Venezuela wins the next match!

Venezuela on top

I do not know how it is to have Venezuelans on top of me. Maybe I should ask Brazil's and Paraguay's national teams? They are trying it right now!

Group B in the Copa América is on fire. The two huge favourites tied 2-2 earlier today in a match that Paraguay should have won. As for Argentina, this tournament is turning into a huge disappointment for the large collection of Brazilian superstars, who have obviously been more worried about getting fancy haircuts than preparing for this tournament! Most notable is Dani Alves, the Barcelona right-back. If anyone (including myself) criticises Lionel Messi for not being able to play without Xavi and Iniesta, a few comments should surely also go to Dani Alves, who today played, like we say in Danish, like "a broken arm".
He was pathetic, and Brazil can only thank Paraguayan strikers and a splendid Fred for not losing.
And for the first time ever, Venezuela is leading its group in front of the favourites of Brazil and Paraguay. In their first match, an organised and fighting Venezuelan side managed to play 0-0 with what is turning out to be one of the most disappointing Brazilian sides ever (I think that it has not been since 1966 that any Brazilian side has played their two first matches in a tournament without winning!), and a victory today against Ecuador could give the "Vinotinto" the first place in the group.
I think the coach, Cesar Farías, was a genious when surprisingly keeping Solomón Rondón outside the starting lineup, and instead using the much more versatile veteran, Giancarlo Maldonado.
Mr. Maldonado was splendid, and Venezuela played more openly. I was very positive to see that differently from many other teams in the tournament, they were taking many shots from the distance, and it was indeed also a long-range effort by Rodriguez that gave them the well-deserved winning goal!
Venezuela plays well; they have always been the Cinderella of South American football, but have already shown that they are a team not to be underestimated. I watched the match alone in my apartment in Caracas; would love to have celebrated with some Venezuelans, but that is surely too much to wish for in a country where still, most people have little knowledge about football, or know that they are the proud hosts to a talented and organised national team (just like the US!).

Cheers for la Vinotinto! I will have a Solera to celebrate!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Watch out for Costa Rica

Argentina's poor performance has forced the hometeam to be in a situation where they must defeat Costa Rica in their last group match. Since Costa Rica is playing the tournament with an under-22 squad, this may not sound difficult for the Argentinean super-stars, but after having watched Costa Rica take out Bolivia last night, this will surely not be an easy task.
After a first half where Bolivia was in slight control, the Tico youngsters came into full flower in the second half, where they completely controlled the match against a Bolivian side that got increasingly desperate, and ended the match with nine players (and should have been more, as one thug, Rodriguez, should have gotten a red card for outright violence as well). The final result could have been more than 2-0, as the Tico's allowed themselves to miss some great chances, including a penalty.
The best player of the match, Joel Cambell, is a 19-year old to watch: I had never heard about him, but he plays for the big Costa Rican club Saprissa. If yesterday was not a fluke, he is surely a youngster whom many big clubs would be interested in.

Costa Rica now only needs a tie to progress to the next round, while only a victory will work for Argentina in what is set to be a dramatic match! While I greatly sympathise with Costa Rica, I hope that Argentina makes it!

Thursday, July 07, 2011


Argentina and Colombia are two countries that I am so attached to that I can actually sing along on both national anthems. Today, both teams played in the second round of the Copa América in a match where the Argentinean home side was under enormous pressure after their debacle against Bolivia, while Colombia could play more comfortably after their opening 1-0 win over Costa Rica.
The game ended 0-0 and let me start by the more positive things: Colombia was excellent in everything except for the enormous chances that they missed. They should surely have won the match; although they came under some pressure towards the end of the match, their defense around AC Milan's veteran Mario Yepes and Atlético Madrid's Luis Perea was simply outstanding. At the same time, the best player of the match was undoubtfully FC Porto´s Freddy Guarín, who was eternally conquering balls and feeding the ever-dangerous Colombian strikers. If Colombia can play like this for the rest of the tournament, and adds goals to the formula, they are a very serious candidate for the title.
Not so an extremely poor Argentina who can actually be happy about the 0-0; they look like a team of superb individualists that just get together to become mediocre. The performance of some of the defenders was simply unacceptable, while one must ask whether Lionel Messi does indeed feels like playing on any other side that is not Catalonian; today he could not even kick a corner-kick properly, and ran more in the way than anything else. Of course, Lavezzi was at least as bad, while I continue to question whether Esteban Cambiasso should ever have been selected (he has never played a good match for Argentina, and today was no exception). The Argentinean players seemed nervous and frustrated as the match progressed, and it did not help that coach Sergio Batista's changes seemed more of desperation than of any tactical considerations.
The Argentinean fans in Santa Fé gave the Argentinean team a very hard time, and in the end were even chanting to get Diego back. If Argentina continues to play like this, they will not get much further in the tournament, and we will all be singing to bring El Diego back!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The first round of the Copa América

Since I was travelling, I missed the surprise opening match of the Copa América, where Argentina were unable to defeat a well-playing Bolivian side.
However, I was able to watch other matches in this tournament that has, until now, shown that South American football is currently home to some extremely strong and talented national teams.
Although without many goals, the matches have been technically and tactically excellent. Another of the favourites, Uruguay, only managed 1-1 with a Perú side missing its biggest stars, while Chile struggled to win 2-1 against a Mexican youth side. But the biggest surprise, to my personal delight (not least because I have heard so many Venezuelans themselves speak so lowly of their national team, which, in my expert opinion, deserves much better from its football-ignoring compatriots), was Venezuela's 0-0 against Brazil. The Venezuelans fought hard and played with enormous tactical discipline against a Brazilian side that remain favourites, but will have to display some more creativity in attack to open up defenses that are bound to play like Venezuela did.
There are surely to be some more excellent matches, and I surely look forward to see the "Vinotinto" for their next match!