Until further notice, international soccer will be dominated by the European countries. After watching the Copa America that’s the only conclusion possible. I’ve watched a ridiculous amount of soccer in my role as a sports bettor/handicapper/oddsmaker/writer and I can’t recall a tournament with so many talent laden teams that was this poorly played. The only bright spots were some of the lower seeds which at times showed at least a fair degree of enthusiasm. Then again, this could have been a mirage based on the shabby play of the supposed ‘elite’ of South American football.
I fully expect this to be punctuated by the 2020 Euro which should be a great competition. Portugal is the defending champion and the storyline in advance of the Euro 2020 will be the ‘aging’ Cristiano Ronaldo who scored a mere 21 goals in Serie A play for Juventus last season. They likely won’t be favored but will still be a tough out. One thing I expect to see–a level of play such that even a mid level Euro 2020 team would have run roughshod over this pitiful Copa America field. The intensity of the knockout stages of the U21 Euro was off the charts compared to the 2019 Copa America.
The most painful thing about the Copa America is listening to the carping of the international football media who suggest that Brazil has regained some sort of ‘dominance’ on the world stage. These were same types that were calling for Brazil coach Tite to be fired following the 0-0 draw with Venezuela during group play. There’s a reason that Brazil hasn’t won the World Cup since 2002 and it sure isn’t Tite’s fault. Since Brazil’s 2002 win only one South American team has even reached the finals (Argentina in 2014).
Fortunately, it all comes to an end on Sunday when Brazil plays Peru at the Estadio de Maracana in Rio de Janerio. Much has been made of the fact that Brazil has not conceded a goal during the tournament but that sounds significantly more impressive than it really is. Their three opponents in Group A play–Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia scored a total of 8 goals combined in the group stage while conceding 16. Credit to a scrappy Venezuela team who allowed only 1 goal against in group play. In the knockout stages, Brazil beat an overmatched Paraguay side that somehow reached the knockout stage despite not winning a game in group play while scoring 3 and conceding 4. They then beat an Argentina team in decline with the help of a referee that refused to use the video aided review (VAR) system, thus defeating its purpose entirely. I get that Brazil can only play the opponents that are put in front of them but it helps that they’re not very good.
Credit to Peru for playing a strong game against defending champions Chile in the semifinals winning 3-0. They can now ‘do the job’ for Brazil in the finals much as they did in the final game of group stage. With Brazil needing a win to advance in a tournament that was essentially gerrymandered for them to win Peru obliged by rolling over in a 5-0 loss. It’ll be the same deal in the finals though the score will likely be a bit more respectable though not to the extent that Peru is worth a wager.