Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Copa America Quarterfinals: 22 Goals In 4 Matches, But Amazingly Little Excitement

If you told me that the 4 quarterfinal matches would result in 22 goals but not too much excitement my head would explode from an utter lack of comprehension. But in the end that's what happened.

Uruguay 4-1 Venezuela
This match was actually alot closer than the final score indicated, with is being 2-1 for a long time before Uruguay got 2 late goals.

Brasil 6-1 Chile
Brasil basically sleptwalked through the group stage with somewhat lackluster play and benefitted from a few dodgy penalty decisions that went their way. Well obviously the alarm clock went off, and loudly, as soon as this match started, because they dominated: 3 goals in 25 minutes ended the match as a competitive contest, and they went on to add 3 more for good measure.

Their 2nd goal was a bit if a kick in the nuts for us Arsenal supporters, who were all left to mutter, "fucking Baptista... where was that last year?" as La Bestia scored a goal that was better than any of the 10 he scored for the Gunners last season.

Mexcio 6-0 Paraguay
I actually liked Paraguay's chances for an upset here, thinking that fatigue from all the matches in the Gold Cup might catch up with Mexico, and also that in Roque Santa Cruz Paraguay have a striker who can pick the team up, put them on their back, and carry them to victory {think Totti at Roma; RSC is a similar leader/scorer/talisman for Paraguay}. And after the 2 blowouts on Saturday I was thinking this could be a really good match. Well my idea lasted all of 90 seconds, when Paraguay's keeper took down a breakaway striker in the box and got the dreaded quadruple whammy: 1) penalty kick awarded 2) keeper sent off with a straight red card by rule 3) having to use a sub to bring in the backup keeper, and sacrifice an outfield player in the process 4) having to play the rest of the match, 89 minutes in this case, playing 10 v 11 and only having 2 subs to relieve sure-to-be tired legs in the 2nd half. The result? An absolute slaughter.

Argentina 4-0 Peru
No one outside of Peru really expected this match to be really close, as Argentina have far and away been the class of the tournament thusfar and since shocking Uruguay in the opening group match, Peru have not.

Peru played verrrryy conservatively and cautiously, and made it into halftime 0-0. Without a shot in the first half, it was obvious that they were hoping to hold off Argentina for a 0-0 draw and go straight to penalties and take their chances in the shootout. Argentina quickly made it 1-0 to start the 2nd half, and then it was always more likely that they would get a 2nd now that Peru had to come out and play a little, and go forward to try to score. Even having to do that, Peru were downright awful, and Argentina put on a clinic in the 2nd half, completely dominating possession and toying with Peru at times with strings of 10-20 "ole!" passes, and going on to score 3 more for a 4-0 thrashing that was not even indicative of the difference between the two teams on the day. Peru finished the match without a single shot. Now I watch a shitload of soccer matches, but I cannot ever remember seeing that happen at any level. Argentina march on.

A word about their 2nd goal: for all the goals in this round, many good and several great, the best goal of all wasn't even a goal, it was Riquelme's assist to Messi for his goal. Breaking free outside the box, looking ready to wind up a big right footed shot, he had the vision to see Messi streaking in from the side and played him in with an absolutely brilliant pass instead, which young Lionel finished off by nutmegging the keeper. Not many players have the vision to see and then execute that pass, and many of them who do don't have the unselfishness to then do it rather than finish attempting the thunderbolt shot that they were just starting to attempt themselves. For me this setup/pass by Riquelme was better than any of the 22 goals. Just amazing.

The Argentine radio announcer is as enthusiastic as you would expect.
BTW, is this the same dude, 21 years later, who had probably the greatest call ever, of what is widely considered the greatest goal ever? Sure sounds like him...

So yeah, amazingly, 22 goals in 4 matches yet still a little disappointing for anyone hoping to see a compelling contest.

Your semifinals are:

Today 5.50 p.m. PST Telefutura

Argentina- Mexico
Tomorrow 5.50 p.m. PST Univision

At this point everyone want to see "El Clasico del Sudamerica" in the final, with the two big dogs locking horns in what is sure to be a classic. But Uruguay has a lot of history against their neighbor & old rival Brasil, even if much of it is in the distant past, and Mexico will be super motivated at the chance to avenge their heartbreaking extra time loss to Argentina in last summer's World Cup Round of 16.

On the face of it I find it hard to see either favorite lose, but with the no extra time/straight to penalties rule of this tournament, I have a funny feeling that one of these matchups is going to penalties where we may very well see an upset to ruin the match that everyone wants to see.


moin said...

The most exciting part of the semifinals? This:


Kanu said...

Funny, I was just getting ready to post about that...

moin said...

Well, great minds and all that. (Or we just surf the same blogs.)