Hello folks and welcome to Brazil for the 2019 Copa America! As you know my season with Vauxhall Motors ended in glory as we won the Premier League for the second time in a row and also managed to get our hands on the FA Cup and this time I had a special pre-season since I had to lead Argentina to glory in the Copa America. I tried to stay as focused as possible in the middle of all the transfer rumors and negotiations and I can tell you that the tournament was quite spectacular. Let’s see how it went.
Before moving on to the actual game let me introduce the 23 men that I had selected for the Copa America, you can see each player’s profile by clicking his name. As you can notice veterans like Javier Mascherano or Carlos Tevez were not included but I did call up quite a few experienced players including 32-year old captain Lionel Messi. It’s also worth noting that three Vauxhall players were included in the squad but there was no favouritism, they deserved it :)
Although I didn’t see him as a starting line up man Lionel Messi was the leader of the group, the team captain and surely our media icon.
I won’t present the group matches in detail, the group was fairly easy with Colombia, Peru and Paraguay and I was quite sure that we would qualify to the quarter finals. The first game was supposed to be the most difficult, against Colombia, but we cruised past them. Left winger Juan Pablo Yavar broke the deadlock with a fabulous goal, then substitute Angel Di Maria headed one home (with traditional suspicions of handball), Javier Pastore banged one in from 25 yards and Gonzalo Higuain closed the account with a shot that hit both the crossbar and the post before going into the net. Colombia scored a consolation goal on their only shot on target but that didn’t rescue their head coach, he was sacked immediately after the game! I guess he should be happy that he didn’t get shot before getting sacked… (Click here to watch the highlights.)
Next up we eased past Peru, central midfielder Cesar Basualdo opened the scoring with a phenomenal goal and then striker Sergio Aguero finally scored his first goal of the tournament to wrap things up. We were qualified for the quarter final with a game to spare. (Click here to watch the highlights.)
With qualification already secured I sent in a weakened eleven against Venezuela, although I can’t really say that the usual reserves are much weaker than the first team regulars. Striker Sergio Araujo made the most out of the opportunity as he scored two goals and created one for left winger German Pacheco while Javier Pastore scored again from the edge of the area. Unfortunately we were hit by injuries: full back Fernando Pereyra was going to be out between 4 and 5 weeks and Sergio Araujo between 3 and 4 weeks, the tournament was over for both players. (Click here to watch the highlights.)
The only teams with an 100% record at the end of the group stage were not too difficult to guess: Argentina and Brazil. I forgot to say that the Brazilian team was also including no less than five Vauxhall players: goalkeeper Luis Guilherme, left winger Tiago, midfielder Indio and strikers Zé Carlos and Parana!
We were going to play Ecuador in the quarter final, not the most difficult opponent by any means but we still had to remain focused as there was no room for error at that stage of the tournament.
Ecuador vs Argentina (Copa America Quarter Final)
Venue: Morumbi, Sao Paulo
Starting line up: Oscar Ustari – Sergio Garcia, Nicolas Otamendi, Guillermo Burdisso, Osvaldo Rufino – Leandro Velasco, Marcos Fernandez, Ever Banega, Juan Pablo Yavar – Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain
Team Talk: For the fans!
And the players were as focused as always, we got off to a flying start as we managed to break the deadlock inside the first minute of play when a fine team move saw Ever Banega playing an exquisite through ball for Juan Pablo Yavar who stabbed home. Four minutes later it was 2-0, Sergio Aguero passed inside the box to Gonzalo Higuain who found the back of the net with a fantastic finish. Our domination continued but Ecuador punished us on their first real attack of the game. I was not too worried though, the team was looking great. In fact, we created a few more chances before centre back Guillermo Burdisso nodded home on a Yavar free kick cross.
Half time score: 1-3
Half time team talk: Pleased.
The game became easier on 56 minutes as one of the Ecuadoran centre backs got sent off for a professional foul on Aguero, at that point I instructed the players to take a breather and spare their energy for the semi final. That didn’t do us too much good though, central midfielder Marcos Fernandez got injured and we had to finish the game with 10 men. However, we did manage to score a fourth and it was Motorman Leandro Velasco who scored his first ever goal for Argentina after receiving a good pass from Aguero. Unfortunately Fernandez was going to be out for two weeks so the Copa America was over for him.
Full time team talk: Well done!
Man of the match: Sergio Aguero
Flop of the match: Osvaldo Rufino
We were going to meet Uruguay in the semi final as they won on penalties against Chile while Brazil cruised past Peru courtesy of a brace from… Zé Carlos!
Argentina vs Uruguay (Copa America Semi Final)
Venue: Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
Team Talk: For the fans!
This game was not much different to the previous one, we started dominating from the very first minute and finally broke the deadlock on 25 minutes when Gonzalo Higuain banged one in. The pressure on Uruguay‘s defense continued and Higuain managed to double his tally with a powerful finish in the 37th minute. The game seemed to be quite easy, Uruguay were unwilling or afraid to attack.
Half time score: 2-0
Half time team talk: Pleased.
The second half was totally under control, I asked the players to take it easy again and they played it perfectly as Uruguay didn’t see much of the ball in the last 45 minutes. They did pull one back five minutes from time but I wasn’t too worried, our opponents were left wanting the ball but not getting it until the final whistle. I decided not to give the players a team-talk at the end of the game, I left them with their own thoughts before the big final.
Full time team talk: none
Man of the match: Gonzalo Higuain
Flop of the match: Angel Di Maria
As you might expect the final was going to be against Brazil, they beat Mexico 2-0 with Zé Carlos and Pato getting their names on the score sheet. Read all about the big final in the next page, all I can say is that it was an extremely spectacular game. ;)
Go to the next page to read the rest of the story.
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