Adriano Leite Ribeiro’s meteoric rise coincided with a grand epoch in Italian football. He was already on his way to featuring on the cover of video games in 2003, as the Champions League hosted an all-Italian final. Transfer records were being broken and the world’s hottest footballing prospects had their eye on eventually reaching the pinnacle of calcio.
The hangover of the Third-Place Match had not passed yet when Brazil and Peru squared off at the Maracana for the Final of Copa America 2019. But Leo Messi’s controversial declarations after the game, with his accusations to CONMEBOL of being corrupted, were overshadowed by the Selecao’s 3-1 win in the last act to capture the trophy for the first time since 2007.
There’s no wonder why Brazil–Argentina – El Clasico de America – is always regarded as a legendary game. No matter in which tournament the two South American giants face each other, the level of intensity and passion they put never disappoints anyone. That was also the case on Tuesday when Brazil beat the Albiceleste 2-0 in the first Semifinal of the Copa America 2019.
Since FIFA put in place the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), there have been many debates and controversies surrounding its utilization. In my opinion, it was a necessary change, with some drawbacks, but with many more advantages. The Copa América 2019 Quarter Finals proved that: Without the VAR, the final results would have been much different.
Brazil-Italy is the Superclasico of the World Cup, the most traditional game in the major football competition. The Azzurri and the Selecao have crossed their paths many times in the history of the world tournament, always with much at stake. On July 17, 1994, Brazil prevailed over Italy in the first World Cup Final decided on penalties to conquer the long-yearned-for “Tetra.”
It’s a World Cup, but it looks like a European Championship by now. Belgium eliminated the last representative from South America last night, beating Brazil 2-1 in Kazan. The Belgians benefited from an own goal by Fernandinho, and doubled their lead with Kevin De Bruyne, before Renato Augusto could vainly reduce the gap for the Selecao.
Still not a sparkling Brazil the one seen yesterday in Samara, but a solid and concrete team. That was enough for the Selecao to move into the Quarter Finals, in a World Cup with a keen for brusquely showing the exit door to most of the favorite teams. Coach Tite’s selection moved past Mexico with goals by Neymar and Roberto Firmino.
In a tournament where the traditional gods of football have been overthrown or forced to abdicate, Brazil had the merit of simply doing their part last night in Moscow, beating Serbia 2-0 with goals by Paulinho and Thiago Silva. Coach Tite’s Selecao controlled an unexpectedly remissive Serbian side, striking at the right moment, and showing glimpses of their talent.
Brazil breathed a sigh of relief today when Philippe Coutinho finally managed to open a breach into the Costa Rican wall, which had held for 90 minutes. Neymar made it two for the Selecao during extra time, redeeming his team after a disappointing debut against Switzerland. However, qualification is still all but granted for the Brazilians.
Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic had said it the day before the match: “We will win our group.” It’s too early to say whether his prophecy fulfills, but surely snatching one point out the game with the Selecao is a promising step in the right direction. Brazil on the other hand had a staggering start, failing to win their third World Cup game in a row.