Sunday, July 15, 2007

Selecao Handily Defeat Feeble Albiceleste:
Brasil Es Campeao Sudamerica

No Kaka...
No Ronaldinho...
No Gilberto Silva...
No Adriano...
No Ronaldo...

No Problemo.

Copa America 2007 Final
Brasil 3-0 Argentina
Baptista 5'
Ayala o.g. 40'
Alves 69'

Even if you hate footy, you have to admit the cartoonish
sound effects on Brasilian TV are pretty sweet.

The last time Argentina played Brasil was in a friendly match in September at Emirates Stadium in London. As it happened I was in Buenos Aires at the time, and there was mondo excitement leading up to the match- the country came to a damn near standstill for 2 hours. Brasil dominated Argentina 3-0 that day, and it was like a day of mourning in Buenos Aires, the feeling of disappointment/letdown was palpable in the air. That was just a friendly, so I can't even imagine what BA is like this evening.

Brasil got off to a flying start thanks to La Bestia, Julio Baptista, who scored a wonderful golaso against the run of play that filled me with another round of bitterness, the third round of bitterness in the last week to be precise. Again, Julio, where the fuck was that all last season during your failure at Arsenal? Thanks alot, fucker. The goal gave Brasil a huge shot of adrenaline and confidence, which they never relinquished for the entire 90 minutes.

Argentina came within inches of equalizing a few moments later when Riquelme rocketed a left footed blast off the post, and it was on. The first 20 minutes were pretty pulsating stuff, but then the match settled down a bit, and Argentina were never really able to get into full gear offensively.

A tight match turned less tight before halftime when a dangerous cross was volleyed brilliantly into the Argentine goal... by Argentine defender Ayala. Oops. 2-0 into halftime. Touogh day at the office for Ayala the Argentine captain, who also got schooled by Baptista on his golaso.

You figured after the break that Argentina would come full bore in wave after wave after wave of attacks, but they still couldn't seem to get into full gear. Huge credit to the back 4 of Brasil, who played a wonderful game without the cover of their suspended invisible wall. Obviously at this point the third goal would be crucial, because it would either mean game on or game over. It came on a counter attack in the 73rd minute, when Dani Alves did what he did all season for Sevilla, make a bombing overlapping run on the right and slot home a sweet one-timer shot into the far corner. 3-0 and that was that. The rest was a formality, and just to add insult to injury Messi scored a perfectly legitimate goal in the final 10 mintes that was incorrectly ruled offsides.

A huge statement win for Brasil to put one over on their biggest rival with far from their strongest squad against a full strength Argentine side {OK, Crespo was injured, but still}. Brasil have had the hoodoo over Argentina in the last decade or so, and this win will just add to it in a massive, massive way. I can't think of a great comparison, the first one that comes to mind would be if Georgia entered the Georgia-Florida game 8-0, Florida were 5-3, Tebow was out injured, Georgia were 14 point favorites, and Florida still won 28-6. The hoodoo that Brasil currently enjoy over Argentina is not as strong as the hex Florida has over UGA the last 17 years, but that was the first thing that popped into my mind- I'm sure there are better comparisons out there.

And for Argentina this will be a huge mental blow, after all the buildup and promise and expectation to win, only to have your full strength team get embarrassed by a far from full strength Brasil team. This was to be Argentina's first major tournament win since the 1993 Copa America {outside of a youth tournament}, so to fall flat against their most hated rival will leave a scar that will take a good long time to heal and fade away. Their next chance will be the 2010 World Cup, by which their winless stretch will be 18 years.

Riquelme did not boss the midfield, and will again be ridiculed for supposedly disappearing in the biggest of stages, which I think is unfair today and in general. He had Argentina's best chance when he rattled the post early on, and a bunch of his teammates were pretty anonymous today as well, including Messi, Tevez, Veron, Mascherano, and Cambiasso {by the by, I thought 34 year old Zanetti played a blinder for the albiceleste}. He seems to get a similar treatment that Thierry Henry is subject to: when he kicks ass and dominates everyone is up his ass and full of praise, but in the matches where he doesn't kick ass and dominate then suddenly everyone says he sucks ass and is a choker, when the former happens a hell of a lot more than the latter. I wonder if there is commonality on treatment because both players a a bit moody and mercurial- would they get more slack of they were the never say die super passionate bulldog type like say Gattuso, or even like Steven Gerrard? I wonder...

Let's be clear, it wasn't a total and complete domination. In fact, Wagner Love once again largely did nothing- granted his run and pass on the last goal were very good but that was about it, making me conclude that he just isn't good enough to be a starting striker for the Selecao. Robinho was also largely anonymous. The match was probably tighter than the final score indicated, but 2 moments of magic from Baptista and Alves, plus the midsummer Christmas gift from Ayala, and there you have it. But again, the fact that this result occurred when Argentina had assembled their dream team of worldbeating superstars and Brasil were decidedly less than full strength was the significant point, making it the mental equivalent of a dominant beating in the eyes of both teams, sets of fans, and nations.

Speaking of Wagner Love, the most disappointing thing about him was the complete abandonment by the Univision announcer of saying his name like the Ladies Man {blah blah blah Wagner Loooooovvvveee} after the 2nd game. I cannot believe that the play by pllay man did it of his own volition, so my guess is that either someone in Love's camp asked them to stop or some suit at Univision asked him to stop {although perhaps he trotted it back out today for the grand final- I was at a pub today which had the GolTV feed}. Either way it was disappointing to say the least.

Oh, and it finally dawned on my today who Riquelme is. He's Gilbert Gottfried with short hair. Same face, although I cannot iagine that Juan Roman's voice is anywhere near as irritating as Gilbert's.

In yesterday's 3rd place match Mexico beat Uruguay 3-1. That's about all I know since I didn't take the time to watch a match that is essentially a meaningless friendly.

Overall the Copa America was a wonderful event with lots of attacking footy and tons and tons of goals. Eighty six of them, to be exact, in 26 matches, for a healthy 3.3 goals per match. A very pleasant and refreshing surprise after the offensively challenged World Cup 2002, Euro 2004, and even World Cup 2002.

The South American 2010 World Cup qualifying starts this fall. Anyone care to wager against Brasil and Argentina finishing 1 & 2? Not me...


Solon said...

I tivo'd the match on Univision (or whatever channel it was on that wasn't GolTV) and we definitely got the "Wagner Looooooooove" thing. Damn, that is some pretty funny shit.

For the record, Riquelme looks just like my friend Gay F. Gay F also looks like Jock Ewing. I am not sure what to make of that but I feel confident in saying that it is not good for Gay F.

moin said...

It wasn't just "Looooove", it had a little roll of the tongue in it so it was more like "Looouuurve".

I think what happened is Brazil came out very physical and pressing in the midfield and that caught the Argentine mids by surprise. I thought Veron and Messi were particularly off standard this match (a pretty bad pass by Messi led directly to the first goal).

The Baptista in this tourney is the one that I saw at Sevilla. Where has that been?

Aureliano said...

Cambiasso was absolutely useless.

I'll disagree with Vagner Love. For as much flak as he's received, he was very good last night. He was a pest all game long and had a key part in all 3 goals:
First: If you watch the replay, he's the one that came back in the mid and stole the ball, then made a good leading pass to Elano. Who then sent a wonderful 60yard pass to The Beast.
Second: His run and presence in the box caused Ayala to make a decision to slide and try to get the ball out. If VL was out of position and didn't make as hard a run as he did Ayala would not have to take that chance.
Third: Ran at the defender with speed, looked up, and picked apart Riquelme to send through little Dani.

Is he on par with Adriano, Ronaldo, Robinho or Fred? No. Is he the typical Brazilian striker? No. But he works his ass off during the game, and does a lot of little things that lead to victories. And that is a lot more than you can say about Ronaldo or Adriano in WC'06. Brazil could've used some of that tenacity, fight and unselfishness.