Top 5 lessons from Copa America 2015 so far
Top 5 lessons from Copa America 2015 so far
With the first round of matches now over and the quarter-final stage almost upon us, it’s time to take a look back at the big talking points from Copa America 2015 so far. A lot was said in the build-up to this tournament as some of the word’s best footballers made their way to the Land of Poets, but only some have delivered on their potential, while others have been left spluttering in the wake of some fine displays.
The competition certainly hasn’t been without its drama and theatre with contentious issues aplenty to choose from, but thankfully the football on show has been top-class, too. The favourites, Argentina, still remain very much in contention to be the best, as do Brazil. Meanwhile, the hosts have sparkled brilliantly amidst a series of potentially distracting sideshows.
So, without further ado, let's glance back over the last two weeks of football and pick out the main lessons so far.
5) Childish Neymar needs to rein it in
With the confirmation that Brazil have opted not to appeal Neymar’s four-match ban, it’s imperative the healing process begins in earnest. Truthfully, it is hard to see how even the Barcelona star’s most loyal of fans could come up with an argument strong enough to convincingly defend his actions.
As detailed by the Mirror, his tirade of abuse towards the referee during their disappointing loss against Colombia, as well as his confrontation with Juan Zuniga and Jeison Murillo were all a terrible sight to behold on the field of play and the Champions League winner was lucky to even get away with the ban he received – it could have been much, much worse.
Spouting unacceptable, childish behaviour is not something that should be associated with the beautiful game and it is vital it is stamped out, particularly in someone so well-known and popular as Neymar.
4) Argentina still favourites despite hiccoughs
With two wins, one draw and two clean sheets to speak of, La Albiceleste are doing most of the right things so far. And as long as they continue to improve with each passing game, they ought to emerge victorious come the start of July.
Without anything of note to distract them, Gerardo Martino’s men have been busy getting down to business with some slick football. Nevertheless, they didn’t have the smoothest of beginnings with a 2-2 draw against Paraguay that saw them let slip a solid two-goal first-half cushion that really should have been more. Taking their foot off the gas, the Argentines paid for their self-inflicted lethargy and made the last two games a little more nervy than they needed to be.
With a few days to recover, plan and prepare for their next match against a struggling Colombia, the odds remain stacked in their favour and they should navigate safely past them. Whether or not they can end their 22-year wait remains to be seen, but they certainly have the players, the style and the incentive – will they be hungry enough to chase after the dream?
3) Brazil's Robinho hasn't lost it
Roaming about the pitch with purpose and poise, Brazil’s No. 20 glided in between players with ease, was comfortable in possession and played a key role in the opening goal of the night as Dunga’s men edged past Venezuela 2-1 to top their group. It wasn’t yet another rising Canarinho star who was having a huge impact on the game, however. No, it was 31-year-old Robinho.
Battling against his label as a one-hit wonder, the Santos player dictated the game brilliantly alongside Willian, and it was Robinho whose corner found the thundering volley of Thiago Silva to help the five-time world champions to an early lead.
Still very much a force to be reckoned with, although his future in the domestic Brazilian game remains up in the air, if he continues to play like this, suitors will once more be lining up for his services in the near future. Once the most promising youngster on the planet, his big-money move to Manchester City probably seems like a long time ago now, but it’s hard to argue he isn’t doing his best to roll back the years.
2) Arturo Vidal key for Chile despite indiscretions
It seems as if the public is divided on the Arturo Vidal storyline that continues to permeate the hustle and bustle of this year’s Copa. Detracting somewhat from the football, much of the media’s focus has been on the calamitous crash that could very nearly have ended the Chilean star’s tournament.
In case you missed it, the Juventus star had his drivers’ license revoked after he crashed his expensive Ferrari while under the influence of alcohol on a night off. Since then, he’s promised to donate his tournament fee to a charity, as reported by the Daily Mail. That said, he still has a long way to go to make it all forgotten.
While some think he shouldn’t even be allowed to play following his dangerous antics, there are others who feel he is just indispensable to the team right now, and that he might just be that bit of brilliance they need to win it all outright.
1) The Falcao conundrum remains unresolved
Drafted in by Manchester United at the beginning of the 2014/15 season, hopes were high that Radamel Falcao would smash home a flurry of goals as the Red Devils romped to yet another Premier League trophy. Wrapped up in the dreams of finally escaping the “Moyesian” tragedy that had engulfed Old Trafford for a full season, their wishful thinking that the Colombian would become their saviour ended only in yet more idealisms and “if onlys” as the ex-Monaco man failed to deliver.
Now, Falcao looks to be on the verge of a move back to the Premier League – to Chelsea, in fact. However, a potential transfer to Stamford Bridge could bear a much closer resemblance with Fernando Torres’ forgettable spell there than it could with the reawakening of El Tigre.
So far, the 29-year-old’s form in South America these past few days has been nothing short of mediocre and there are very few signs that he is getting back to the very peak of his powers. At best, it’s perplexing and a little worrying for his stalling career, but at worst it’s a strong hint that he might never reach the heights he once knew so well, not too long ago, which would be a sad waste of a talent that once terrorised the best of defences.