Monday, July 18, 2011

Has Copa America lived up to its billing?

The presumption was that there would be another epic final between Brazil and Argentina but both teams have been left in the dust, both favorites being eliminated on penalty kicks. Other highly ranked Copa American team, Columbia and Chile have been knocked out leaving in their wake, Uruguay, Peru, Paraguay and Venezuela.

Argentina outplayed Uruguay but lost. Brazil dominated Paraguay but lost in penalty kicks. Chile had the better of Venezuela but Venezuela came through with an early goal and a late goal. That kind of result is understandable but FIFA needs to find a resolution to a game other than by penalty kicks.

After 90 minutes in regulation time, there are two 15 minutes half. Rather than resorting to penalty kicks, there should be 15 minute segments decided by sudden death. The penalty shoot-out is too much like a crap shoot and soccer deserves a classier ending to a hard fought contest.

Whither Brazil, Whither Argentina?

Brazil and Argentina are powerhouse soccer countries that have entered a rebuilding stage. Neither South American team performed well in the 2010 World Cup.
Argentina had to jettison Maradona who was one of the greatest forwards who played the game but may have been one of the worst soccer coaches in the history of the game. Batista is trying to rebuild. Argentina has an abundance of strikers up front but their mid-field horses and defense need rejuvenation. Messi is exceptional and displayed his pinpoint passing against Uruguay but football has long since ceased being a one-man show.

The Brazil team came alive after being unimpressive in their first two meeting. They over-ran Ecuador and made Paraguay look like amateurs. Despite having the ball at their disposal for 90 minutes and 30 minutes overtime, Brazil could not net.

The team is beginning to gel. The understanding of Lucio and Silva improved. Maicon has shown that he is head and shoulders above Danni Alves even though he was not as potent against Paraguay as he was against Ecuador. Santos is adequate but Marcelo has demonstrated that he is a hell of an offensive player.

The offensive trio of Neymar, Pato and Robinho is potentially devastating to opponents but perhaps is not the right combination. Robinho has shown his worth as a busy play-maker and seems to have a higher work rate than Gunso. Gunso is not ready to be a regular starter on the Selectao and one wonders about the productivity of Lucas Levva and the efficacy of Ramires. Clius could easily lay in Ganco’s spot and designate Robinho as the official playmaker in mid-field.

Does Pato fit in or is he too similar a player to Neymar and Fred or preferably Danair may mesh better.

Brazil has much of the ball but the offense and the mid-field are not creating clear chances. There is much work to be done in the last third.

Menenzes must continue the search for the right chemistry. The talent for greatness is there and must be molded in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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