Copa America 2007 – Robinho And Messi
ROBINHO AND MESSI
This year’s Copa America was memorable for many reasons. Brazil boasted the tournament’s best player, Robinho, who was also top scorer with six goals. The Real Madrid striker’s contribution was supplemented by the performances of Julio Baptista and Daniel Alves, goalkeeper Doni and winger Josue, who was one of the tournament’s revelations.
Argentina, who with the exception of players such as Javier Saviola and Maxi Rodriguez were virtually at full strength, were perhaps the most consistent side in the tournament with stand¬out performances from Juan Roman Riquelme, who starred in Boca Juniors’ recent Copa Libertadores triumph, and their latest prodigy, Lionel Messi, now a magnet for publicity wherever he goes. Javier Mascherano also attracted praise for his elegance and authority in the Argentina midfield.
Another team to make a big impression was Mexico, who reached their fourth semi-final in their last five Copa Americas, thus confirming their growing stature as a footballing nation. Mexico’s campaign as a guest team representing CONCACAF, which was finally ended by Argentina in the semi-finals, consolidated the reputation of players such as Gerardo Torrado and Rafael Marquez and also made a name for Olympiakos forward Nery Castillo, the scorer of four goals and a tricky dribbler who proved very difficult to dispossess.
Coached by the legendary Hugo Sanchez, Mexico claimed third place with a 3-1 win over Uruguay, who also made a highly favourable impression after a disastrous opening match in which they lost 3-0 to Peru. The experience and knowledge of Uruguay’s coach, Oscar Washington Tabarez, inspired a fightback that led to their qualification for the knock¬out stage in third place and a comprehensive 4-1 victory against the hosts in the quarter-finals before they lost to Brazil in the semis, but not without causing them some problems. In the end, it came down to a penalty shoot-out in which Pablo Garcia actually had the opportunity to win the match for Uruguay, but was denied by the post.
Diego Forlan once again shone for Uruguay, as did hard-running winger Cristian Rodriguez and central defender Diego Lugano.
Whether Venezuela deserve a paragraph to themselves is questionable, as they were knocked out in the quarter-finals when many fans were expecting more from them, but it is clear that Venezuelan rootrjall’is now Dunlrurg-mr ilk.” jsvogroy that began with Caracas’ success in the Copa Libertadores and continued with the national team’s occasional good results in the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
In any case, the demand for better results is proof that the public and press in Venezuela are starting to view their country as a competitive side that in the future will cease to be considered easy opponents. This has been the greatest achievement of the team coached by the qualified doctor, Richard Paez.