The 2019 edition of the Copa America has not been a classic, to say the least. With fans of South American teams used to watching football that involves flair and individual talent, this tournament has been full of defensive organisation and prioritisation given to holding tight instead of letting loose.
However, as everyone knows, there are bound to be surprises in a knockout tournament and this tournament has had a few, to say the least.
Here are the five biggest surprises from Copa America 2019:
5. Alexis Sanchez’s Form
Alexis Sanchez has being going through a terrible loss of form for Manchester United since signing for the club in January 2018. His form was so bad that many deemed him finished, but he clearly got over all of his issues to act like a talisman for Chile again, taking them to the semi-finals.
Despite Chile losing 3-0 to Peru in the last four, his performances would definitely have given United fans cause for encouragement if Sanchez does decide to stay.
4. Uruguay’s Quarter-final Elimination
Uruguay were one of the clear favourites for pundits and fans alike, with their extremely talented and experienced front line coupled with a world-class back line appealing enough to many to crown them as the best team.
While they started off on the right foot, winning two of their three group stage games in a dangerous group, they fell off against dark horses Peru in the quarter-finals, losing on penalties after a stalemate in 120 minutes.
3. Brazil’s Ability to Cope Without Neymar
Brazil lost talisman Neymar to injury in the run-up to the tournament, and fans were notably devastated. There were questions over the team’s creativity in the final third. However, the Selecao have never looked back, looking solid defensively, often times looking completely in control of the game.
While they have struggled with inventiveness and breaking down packed opposition defences at times, their team work has trumped Neymar’s individual abilities.
2. Peru’s Dream Run
Ask neutrals who follow South American football football about their second favourite team, and often times their answer would be Peru.
An eternal menace to the heavyweights of the continent, their excellent wing play, positive pressing and ability to penetrate with ease have captured the hearts of many.
This time around, they have finally delivered on their promise, reaching the final of the tournament, where they face hosts and favourites Brazil at the Maracana. This is their first appearance in the final since they won it in 1975.
1. Lionel Messi’s Lack of Form
Argentina have perenially had a squad full of attacking riches, but for almost a decade, they have never managed to gel together well, struggling to show up to their promise on the pitch. One aspect that they have never faced is a loss of form from talismanic captain Lionel Messi.
Messi has scored only one goal so far this entire tournament, and even that came from the penalty spot against Paraguay. To win anything, La Albiceleste need their maestro in full form, so there was no real surprise that they lost to hosts Brazil in the semi-final.
Five biggest surprises from Copa America 2019