Messi Announces International Retirement as Argentina Fall to Chile in Copa Final

Jun 27, 2016 by Alex Baker

Lionel Messi announced he would retire from playing with his national team after Argentina lost to Chile on penalties in the Copa America Centenario final on Sunday. The defeat was the third consecutive final Argentina have now lost in as many summers; following the 2014 World Cup defeat to Germany, and last summer’s Copa America, which was also lost to Chile on penalties.

But Sunday’s loss was a particularly bitter one for Messi who missed the first penalty kick in the shootout for Argentina.

“I tried my hardest, it’s been four finals and I was not able to win. I tried everything possible, it hurts me more than anyone but it is evident that this is not for me,” Messi told reporters after the match.

The final was... Read More

Copa America Final: Another Near Miss for Messi, Argentina

Jul 06, 2015 by Alex Baker

Although he’s the most decorated modern player in club football terms, Lionel Messi remains a nearly-man at international level following Argentina’s loss to Chile on penalties in the Copa America final. As the tournament concludes with Chile being crowned deserving winners, there’s a pervading sense of déjà vu from last summer’s World Cup hanging around both Messi and Argentina.

Once again, the Albiceleste entered the tournament with a star-studded squad built around the recently restored “Best Player in the World”; Once again, they reached the final through a series of mostly middling performances; And once again, they fell to a team that was the best in the competition. Like Germany last summer, Chile are deserving winners, having played the best and most consistent football throughout the nearly month-long tournament.

... Read More

Copa America: Another Shot at Glory for Messi and Argentina

Jul 02, 2015 by Alex Baker

Having fallen just short of the final hurdle at last summer’s World Cup, Saturday’s Copa America final represents a second chance for Lionel Messi to finally lead Argentina to major silverware. On Wednesday in the semifinals, the Barcelona man was on-song as Argentina handed out a 6-1 thrashing to a very good Paraguay side.

For the first time we saw Tata Martino’s team open up and play the kind of expansive, attacking football we’ve been longing to see from the Albiceleste. While not finding the back of the net himself, Messi notched a hat trick of assists as goals rained in from Angel Di Maria, Javier Pastore, Marcos Rojo, Gonzalo Higuain, and Sergio Aguero. The fact that Argentina could have five different goal-scorers in a match where Messi doesn’t... Read More

Copa America Favorites Argentina Face Paraguay in Semis

Jun 30, 2015 by Alex Baker

It looked like smooth sailing for Argentina at the end of the first half of its opening Copa America match, up two-nil against Paraguay. But as has so often been the case throughout this tournament, Paraguay had other ideas. Two second-half goals from the un-fancied Paraguayans saw the tournament’s favorite held to a draw.

Argentina coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino will be determined to avoid a similar fate when the two sides meet again in a semi-final clash Tuesday. Martino has the best squad in the tournament at his disposal and the manager won’t want to let Paraguay, the team he coached all the way to the final four years ago, level the playing field by drawing Argentina into a penalty shootout.

Both teams reached the semis by progressing on penalties... Read More

Brazil Exit Copa America in Shambles

Jun 29, 2015 by Alex Baker

No, it was nowhere near as traumatic as last summer’s 7-1 loss to Germany that saw Brazil eliminated from the World Cup. But the Selecao’s exit from the Copa America on Saturday after losing to Paraguay on penalties did seem a suitably inglorious exit for a team that’s now failed to catch fire in two successive major tournaments.

Big Phil Scolari, the man presiding over last summer’s Germany loss, was sacked immediately afterwards. But even at the time, the reappointment of Dunga didn’t seem like the best way to take the team forward. Twelve months later, we have confirmation that assumption was correct. While Dunga’s team didn’t have to bear the crippling pressure of hosting the tournament on its own soil, they were pretty dismal for most of the Copa.

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Copa America Quarterfinal Preview: Argentina vs. Colombia, Brazil vs. Paraguay

Jun 25, 2015 by Alex Baker

The Copa America quarterfinals continue Friday and Saturday. We preview the remaining two matches that will decide the final four in the 2015 edition of the most long-running tournament in international football.

Argentina vs. Colombia - Friday 6/26
Two of the tournament’s sleeping giants go head-to-head in Friday’s fixture. Of the two, it’s Colombia who’ve struggled the most in this tournament so far. James Rodriquez has been nowhere near the player he was at last summer’s World Cup. The Real Madrid man was effective in Colombia’s 1-0 win over Brazil, but compared to his Golden Boot-winning performance last summer, he’s been a virtual passenger. Radamel Falcao, meanwhile, is becoming a liability: He had seven shots in the group stages and hit the target just once.

If Colombia are to... Read More

Copa America Quarterfinal Previews: Chile vs. Uruguay, Bolivia vs. Peru

Jun 23, 2015 by Alex Baker

With the Group Stage now in the bag, there’s a sense that South America’s big guns are still priming to be fired at this year’s Copa America. While pre-tournament favorites Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay are all through to the quarterfinals, only host nation Chile has managed to look impressive thus far. But with a small pool of just 12 teams, the heavyweight clashes come fast and thick in the Copa America. With the quarters set to kick off on Wednesday it’s time for the big boys to step up.

Chile vs. Uruguay – Wednesday 6/24
On the strength of performances so far, Chile is looking as close to an odds-on favorite as anyone in this tournament right now. While Brazil, Argentina and Colombia have struggled to get out of... Read More

Brazil’s ‘Pass the Ball to Neymar’ Plan Not Working

Jun 19, 2015 by Alex Baker

Slapped with a suspension for a red card earned in the dying seconds of Brazil’s Copa America loss to Colombia Wednesday, Neymar will be forced to miss the Selecao’s final group stage match against Venezuela Sunday.

Last summer, with the Barcelona talisman knocked out of action with a cracked vertebrae at the World Cup, Brazil were undone by a German side that picked them off clinically on its way to becoming the first European team to win the Cup in South America. One popular narrative since then has it that had Neymar been fit things might’ve gone differently against the Germans. But on the evidence of Brazil’s showing in the Copa America so far, that doesn’t necessarily seem the case.

This was particularly apparent in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Colombia.... Read More

Copa America: Big Guns Struggle in First Round

Jun 15, 2015 by Alex Baker

Chile vs. Ecuador

They may have struggled at times in their 2-0 opening win against Ecuador, but of all the pre-tournament favorites, it looks like Chile who are off to the best start. While it admittedly took a 67th minute penalty won and converted by Arturo Vidal to open the scoring, Chile were largely successful at containing a formidable Ecuador attack led by Enner Valencia. Ecuador however, came close on a number of occasions, particularly in the 82nd minute when Valencia rocketed a header off the crossbar that could have leveled the score and changed the game.

But two minutes later Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez played in Eduardo Vargas who slotted a shot past Ecuador keeper Alexander Dominguez from the center of the box to make it 2-0. It... Read More

Copa America Preview: Predictions for all 12 Teams

Jun 10, 2015 by Alex Baker

The Copa America has traditionally been seen as a clash between Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, but this year’s edition sees increased competition for South America’s traditional heavyweights. The emergence of host nation Chile as an international power, the resurgence of Colombia’s national team, and a promising Ecuador side that’s on the rise means there are nearly half a dozen teams in the tournament with a reasonable shot at lifting the trophy when the Copa concludes next month.

Group A:

With a squad of mostly domestic players, expectations are low for Bolivia, especially after they lost 5-0 to Argentina in their final warm-up before the tournament. Manager Mauricio Soria says his team will come out attacking. But with forwards who ply their trade at clubs like Changchun Yatai and Oriente... Read More

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