Copa America’s group stage has now concluded and the 12 teams are down to eight. The three groups of four tournament has featured two invitees in Japan and Qatar. Both invitees got eliminated in the group stage. The so called controversial decision to have 2 invited teams, to make the tournament an imperfect 12 teams, is bound to be questioned again.
Qatar have the stable coaching of Felix Sanchez but failed to improve on their surprise Asian Cup winning form of early 2019. The former Barcelona youth coach may be retained as the build up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar ramps up.
Japan are in transition and with a new post 2018 World Cup coach in Hajime Moriyasu brought a team with only three players above 25!
Bolivia’s decline continues and with few players on the horizon it may not be improving in the short or medium term. They all lost three games and scored only twice against Brazil, Venezuela and Peru.
Ecuador are not in much better shape and the somewhat older team coached for the second time by Hernan Dario Gomez will likely continue its decline for a while.
The first quarter final features Brazil, the hosts, vs Paraguay. The latter finished third in group after unimpressive ties vs Qatar and a poor Argentina. They lost their other game 1-0 to Colombia. Brazilians didn’t impress at all in their first two games and the likes of David Neres and Richarlison lost their starting spots for the third game which the hosts won 5-0 (vs Peru)
Venezuela’s slow climb continues. The South American none football country has managed two quarter finals and a fourth place in the last four copas. Prior to 2007 the Rafael Dudamel coached team never managed to get out of a group stage. They now meet Argentina in the quarter finals. The Argentinians have mostly struggled in the Messi era and coaches have failed to get the best out of the talent of the Barcelona star and others like Kun Aguero and many others, not to mention even failing to find a proper, workable and stable formation to fit all the big names. Lionel Scaloni’s men lost the opener to Colombia and tied Paraguay 1-1, they needed to beat Qatar in their last match to progress.
Colombia have so far impressed the most, being the only team with nine points in the group stage. Carlos Queiroz is their somewhat surprising new coach and three wins without conceding has the set them up as favorites vs the aging Chileans. Chile finished second behind Uruguay in group C. Alexis Sanchez’s team features only one outfield player under 25.
Uruguay have a mix of aging but still capable stars with the likes of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. A younger group all over the pitch bodes well for the future of Oscar Tabarez’s team. Maxi Gomez up front, Lucas Torreira, Rodrigo Bentancur and Matias Vecino in the middle form a good core with Jose Gimenez at the back.
Brazil play Paraguay on June 27th. Argentina play Venezuela on the 28th. The winners meet in the semi finals on July 2nd.
On the other side of the bracket Colombia meet Chile on the 28th and Uruguay play against Peru on the 29th with the semis being on July 3rd.
The final is set for Rio’s Maracana on July 7th.