The Copa America kicked off in Brazil this past weekend. The first matchday ran on Sunday and Monday. We’ve seen four games and eight out of the 10 teams play their first matches! Here’s a look at those first four games; recapping matchday 1 of the 2022 Copa America.
Recapping Matchday 1
In the first four matches, Brazil went up against Venezuela, and Colombia took on Ecuador in Zona Norte (Group B). In Zona Sur (Group A) Argentina and Chile renewed their rivalry, while Paraguay and Bolivia battled it out. Since the groups are unbalanced with five teams, that means that the only teams that have not played are Peru from Zona Norte (Group B), and Uruguay in Zona Sur (Group A).
Without further ado, lets take a look at these results from matchday 1!
Brazil blow out Venezuela
Brazil is the favorite in this tournament. Venezuela is not, and has been handed a tough card to play. The Venezuelan National Team had a number of their players test positive before this match. They had to fly in new players overnight to field a roster against the reigning champions!
In the first half things were obviously difficult for Venezuela. Their captain and striker, Fernando Aristeguieta (yes Union fans, he was once a young DP for Philly) was alone on an island and saw little of the ball. Current Union player Jose “El Brujo” Martinez was key in the defensive game plan as he was told to mark Neymar. He did a good job of it for spurts in the game, but Brazil’s quality shown past this scheme. The holding champions found their opening goal in the 23rd minute as Marquinhos netted it. As the match rolled into the second they kept things going!
It looked as if Venezuela might hold the game to 1-0 or even push for 1-1 at times, but that was short-lived. Just about halfway through the second half, Brazil won a penalty. Neymar stepped up and slotted it home. It was 2-0 Brazil and they pushed for even more goals as the match went into the late minutes. Barbosa scored in the 89th minute after some nice interplay from Brazil to make the game 3-0.
In the end, this was a routine win for Brazil and could spell panic for Venezuela. Both sides seem to be going in opposite directions in terms of player health and match results.
Colombia edge Ecuador
The second match of the first day of play saw Colombia going up against Ecuador. In years past, this should have been an easy win for Colombia. Ecuador used to be pushovers in the past, but this year they look like a decent side. They have impressed in World Cup qualifying, while Colombia has struggled to move up the standings. This match was a close won that was just edged by Colombia.
In the first half, the match showed plenty of back and forth moments. As both sides grew into the game it was clear that the side that could possess the ball better was going to come out on top. This was true to a point, but the tipping point of the match was on set pieces. Colombia looked dangerous on set pieces and just before halftime, they put together one that was off of the training ground. Some good interplay led to a ball chipped into the box and an easy tap-in from Cardona. He looked to be offside but was held onside by a smidge. As the match went into the second half things swung Ecuador’s way.
Ecuador had the bulk of the possession in the second half. As Colombia looked to hold their lead, they sat a bit deeper. Ecuador had the better passing percentage and created the most shots, but they couldn’t break down Colombia. In the end, the one goal was enoguh for Colombia to secure all three points.
Moving forward, Ecuador will need to be more ruthless with their oppertunities. They now need to get wins to secure a spot in the knock outs. Colombia have themselves a good little cushion in Group B now being tied on points with Brazil!
Brazil and Colombia are the big named countries and the big winners from the first matchday. Ecuador and Venezuela will need to work hard to get results in their three remaining games. Peru still has everything to play for. This Group B is shaping up to be a good one!
Rivals Argentina and Chile draw
Argentina vs Chile is a match that many have circled on their calendars when it’s scheduled. When it comes to a major tournament that is even more special. There are plenty of question marks surrounding both of these nations, even more so surrounding international superstar Messi. Many see this as his last chance to win a major tournament with Argentina. In the first half he showed that he’s up for it.
After a lot of back and forth play in the early stages of the first half, Argentina was able to find the opener through a moment of Messi brilliance. In the 33rd minute. Argentina won a free-kick and Messi stood over it. He ran up and hit a perfectly curling left-footed shot that was perfectly placed to the right corner of the Chile goal. There was nothing anyone could do to stop that one, and Argentina took the lead. The last 10 minutes of the half were even, but Argentina took their lead with them into halftime.
10 minutes into the second half, Chile found itself back in the swing of things after winning a penalty. A VAR check determined that the challenge in the box was indeed a foul and Vidal stepped up to take the pen. Hist shot was saved and deflected off the crossbar, but it bounced back into where Vargas was able to head the rebound home! The match was tied 1-1, and as it went on it was clear Argentina was pushing for the win. They created chance after chance, but none went in.
This draw will be harder to take for Argentina than it will be for Chile. Argentina was definitely the better side in this match but settle for one point. Both head into the second matchday with everything to play for!
Paraguay best Bolivia
Paraguay and Bolivia are the two teams that not many expect to do well in Group A. They played each other in their first match which could prove the difference in who moves on and who doesn’t from the group. Paraguay came out on top in an interesting match.
Paraguay came into this match the better team but found themselves in a tough spot in the first half of this match. Bolivia won a penalty 10 minutes into the game and Saavedra slotted it home to give underdogs the 1-0 lead. The goal shocked Paraguay, but also woke them up. They pushed for a tying goal and should have found it in the first half, but they could not. However, just before halftime, Bolivia’s Cuéllar received what was already his second yellow card of the match and was sent off. Bolivia now had to play the entire second half a man down.
As the game went into the second half, Paraguay was on the front foot and looked to snatch victory from the claws of defeat. An onslaught of Paraguay shots ensued, and finally, Alejandro Romero broke the deadlock from a long-range effort. This only opened the floodgates after 62 minutes. Three minutes later Angel Romero redirected a chance home to give Paraguay a 2-1 lead. As the game entered its final 10 minutes Angel Romero put the game to bed netting his second and Paraguay’s third goal. The match ended 3-1 which could be a huge result.
Paraguay is in an amazing spot after their first match. Those three points can go a long way in a group where four out of five teams make the knockout rounds. Bolivia, had it all in their favor early only to lose it after going a man down. Now, they’ll have to scrap to get points to try to be in Group A’s top four.
Paraguay is the surprise leader of Group A! They have a huge three points! Argentina and Chile both sit on a point; they should both make it out of this group, but now have to work even harder to do so. Bolivia is behind the eight-ball with their tough loss. Uruguay is the lone team who has not played yet in Group A, but you’d expect them to be raring to go after they saw their stiff competition draw!
Matchday 2 begins Thursday!
Matchday two takes place on Thursday, June 17th, and Friday, June 18th! We’ll get to see the two sides that have not played a match yet, while six other sides have already played one of their four matches! Here’s a look at the games:
- Colombia vs Venezuela – Thursday, June 17. 5:00 pm ET
- Brazil vs Peru – Thursday, June 17. 8:00 pm ET
- Chile vs Bolivia – Friday, June 18. 5:00 pm ET
- Argentina vs Uruguay – Friday, June 18. 8:00 pm ET
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