Chile beat Argentina again in an edition characterized by Messi hurricane: it was one of the best of the competition but ended retiring from the National team after another defeat against Chile.
After winning the first Copa America in 2015, playing at home, Chile also won the special edition this year, 2016, the Copa América Centenario, in the US, commemorating 100 years of the greatest tournament of International teams in South America and played for the first time in United States with tickets almost sold out. If you want to buy tickets to the major football competitions go here.
As last year, in Santiago, the Chilean again won Argentina in penalties. However, the tournament ends up remembered by the announcement of Leo Messi retirement from the Argentine national team, following another final lost, the fourth since he is international, the third in the last three years.
The culpability that Messi showed after missing a penalty and Chile confirming the victory of the Copa America denounced that something was not right with the Argentine star. We had never seen him so low, even in the defeat two years ago at the Maracana in the final of the World Cup he didn’t look this way. Confirmation that this was the heaviest defeat of Messi’s career reached from his mouth after the match: “For me the national team is over. I did everything I could, it hurts not to be champion.”
Interestingly, all this emotions end up following a great tournament with great individual performances of the still best player of the world. Having started the competition out due to injury, gradually reentered the team, and was still able of scoring five goals and making four assists helping Argentina to achieve the final of Copa America. And even in the last game, was still one of the best of an irregular Argentina, despite having suffered very aggressive tackles through out the 120 minutes.
The great Chilean recovery
The Copa America Centenario Final, played in the magnificent MetLife Stadium, was lived with a huge tension and aggression, with even more difficult circumstances created by the referee of the match, the Brazilian Eber Lopes, who has played an exaggerated acting role from the beginning to the end. The red card showed to Marcelo Díaz, one of the best Chilean players throughout the tournament, 30min, seemed to complicate the task of Chile but the team managed by Pizzi was able to rebalance through strategic retreat of Vidal, Aránguiz and Fuenzalida. The first two were the architects of a solid and stable performance of Chile, controlling the Argentine midfielders initiatives, recovering several balls and starting offensive moves.
The high pressure and game intensity are the most visible legacy of Jorge Sampaoli and Juan Antonio Pizzi, manager called to the place of the South American champion manager in 2015, has been able to maintain these principles, with an ability to attack at full speed and to defend with aggressiveness and forcefulness. Chile showed these characteristics over the 120 minutes of the final, despite having missed more effectiveness in offensive terms. But the most important objective was achieved: the stars of Argentina were controlled and the penalties could bring back the ghosts to the Argentine group.
Arturo Vidal missed the first penalty. But because Messi and Biglia ended up wasting too, Francisco Silva turned out to confirm a memorable achievement for the Chileans.
Yes, because the start of this Copa America Centenario was not easy for the South American Roja. They began to lose precisely against Argentina in the first match (1-2), but secured their place after a controversial victory against Bolivia (2-1) and a robust triumph over Panama (4-2).
But as they reached the knockout phase the best Chile reappeared. In quarterfinal in front of a spectacular Mexico, Chile showed a real attacking football festival commanded by Juan Antonio Pizzi. 7-0 was the outcome, a memorable night for Chile and ended up helping to make Edu Vargas as tournament top scorer (six goals). In the semi-final against a talented Colombian, Chilean maintained the intensity and offensive rhythm of the previous game, reaching the final result (2-0) in just over ten minutes.
Argentina ‘almost’; Mexico, Brazil and Uruguay disappointing
This Copa America, of course, was a huge frustration for all Argentines, not only for Messi. Although the exhibition level not have been amazing, Tata Martino team was the one that showed greater regularity throughout the tournament, pointing ten goals in the group stage (only one suffered) and having thrashed Venezuela (4-1) and the United States (4-0) in the knockout rounds. With a superb Messi and very well accompanied by players like Otamendi, Rojo (sent off in the final), Mascherano, Banega, Augusto, Lamela or Higuain, only failed to win in the final, a game that once again confirmed the recent trend of Argentina to loose in major decisions.
And big disillusionment? Well, for a start must be made to Brazil and Uruguay, two of the eternal title contenders, both taken from the competition still in the group stage. Canarinha just won against the fragile Haiti, having tied with Ecuador and lost against Peru (with a goal scored with a hand, however). Uruguay saw their clearance from the competition after two matches. The defeats to Mexico and Venezuela showed the current problems of the team, which were still deprived of their star Luis Suarez.