Spotlight on Copa América 2019, the oldest continental football competition in the world. Carlos Molano follows the Brazilian event for The Cult of Calcio, providing match analysis and personal insight.
Since FIFA decided to put in place the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), there have been many debates and controversies surrounding its utilization. The football world has always been traditionally conservative, and the introduction of technology into the game has been much slower than in other sports.
I am sure most of you discussed it with your friends and families and never got to an agreement. In my opinion, it was a necessary change, with some drawbacks for sure, but with many more advantages. The recent Copa América Quarter Finals were clear proof of that: Without the VAR, the final results would have been much different.
The four games showed once again how much the historically “smaller” national teams in South America have reduced the gap with Brazil and Argentina, the traditional dominating sides in the continent. Three out of four Quarter Finals were indeed decided via penalty shootouts.
In the first game, host country Brazil faced a very competitive Paraguayan side, guided by Eduardo “Toto” Berizzo – a coach with much experience in the Spanish football league. Berizzo staged a perfect plan to finish the game without conceding any goal, and managed to accomplish his proposition even despite Fabian Balbuena getting a red card on the 58th minute.
On the occasion, the VAR changed the initial referee’s decision, turning a penalty into a free kick, and allowed Paraguay to hold the score until the penalty shootouts. Still, Brazil were lucky enough to qualify from the penalty spot, probably saving their manager Tite’s job until the next game.
Argentina were the only team to qualify without any major struggle. With Leo Messi still not stepping forward, Inter’s forward Lautaro Martínez, probably the best player seen so far on the Argentinian side, led the Albiceleste to a 2-0 win over Venezuela. La Vinotinto, however, bid goodbye to the tournament with a very good image.
The third fixture between Chile and Colombia was by far the best game of the tournament. Many won’t agree with me, considering the game ended up 0-0, but the goalless score was heavily influenced by the VAR, which ruled out two goals from Chile.
The Roja clearly bossed the game, and the penalty roulette eventually made justice when William Tesillo missed his shot for Colombia. The current bi-champions thus made it to the Semifinals for the third time in a row.
In the last game, Uruguay versus Peru, the Charruas dominated the game from the very first minute. World class strikers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez managed to score one goal each, but once again the VAR ruled out both their exploit – with Suarez being caught in a very tight offside.
Destiny put us in front of another penalty shootout. Luis Suarez missed the first shot, allowing Peru to advance to the Semifinals after scoring from all their five attempts.
In a few hours, we will have the opportunity to watch the most classical game when it comes to national matchups – Brazil against Argentina – whereas the other Semifinal will be an unexpected Chile versus Peru.
After failing with my predictions for the Quarter Finals winners, I won’t take the risk this time and rather leave it up to you: Who do you think is going to make it to the Final?