Brazil are dominating Copa America, however Argentina and Colombia make intriguing challengers

The ninth model of the Ladies’s Copa America, at present going down and hosted by Colombia, is the largest model of the competitors up to now, its status highlighted by a go to final week from FIFA president Gianni Infantino. And with the competitors now deliberate to be staged each two years, as an alternative of 4, there’s the hope that requirements will proceed to rise.

However one of many issues of the ladies’s sport in South America has been clearly evident from the group part: Brazil are nonetheless merely on a special degree from everybody else. Brazil have received seven of the earlier eight editions of the Copa América Femenina. The one one which acquired away was in 2006, when Argentina received on dwelling floor.

After the defensive tightness that Argentina confirmed within the final World Cup, may they push Brazil exhausting this time? They could meet once more within the ultimate, however they had been definitely unable to reside with Brazil within the group part. The groups met within the opening spherical, and Brazil hardly wanted to interrupt sweat to win Four-Zero.

Thereafter, it was a lot of the identical for Brazil — three extra convincing wins, not a objective conceded and the opposition unable to put a glove on them. Brazil ended the group part with 17 targets for and none in opposition to.

On the one hand, in fact, this is good news for Brazil as they put together a staff for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand subsequent yr adopted by the Paris Olympics in 2024. For the primary time in a few years they’re with none of their well-known trio — midfielder Formiga, who has retired; striker Cristaine, who has been not noted of the squad; and legendary playmaker Marta, who’s injured.

With investments belatedly going down within the home sport, a brand new technology is having the possibility to make a reputation for itself, and this Copa has, up to now at the least, been a splendid morale-boosting train. However is it a correct check for the intense stuff? It’s value recalling that simply earlier than the event Brazil went down in warm-up friendlies to each Denmark and Sweden. The Brazilians haven’t confronted any related form of stress within the Copa — and this isn’t more likely to change within the semifinal.

Forward of Tuesday’s semifinals, Brazil are the strongest of favourites in opposition to Paraguay, maybe the largest shock facet of this yr’s event. 4 South American groups have by no means earlier than made it to a World Cup or an Olympics, and Paraguay are considered one of them. That might now be altering. Paraguay surprisingly completed their group in second place, forward of extremely rated and extra skilled Chile — the match between them was a dramatic encounter that Paraguay received Three-2 after having a two-goal cushion for many of the sport.

Paraguay at the moment are assured an opportunity to go to the World Cup. The highest three groups qualify robotically, with the fourth and fifth going into continental playoffs, and Paraguay can end no decrease than fourth. A win in opposition to Brazil is very unlikely for Paraguay. The chance, then, is that Paraguay’s huge match would be the playoff for third place on Friday. Hardly ever will a lot have been driving on a third-place playoff.

However the largest, best sport up to now — maybe the largest sport of your complete event — is Monday’s opening semifinal between Argentina and Colombia.

If Argentina as soon as used dwelling benefit to win the title, then Colombia hope that the identical can apply to them. Hosts Colombia received all their matches within the group stage — if not as emphatically as Brazil, then often with one thing to spare.

Ladies’s soccer has developed effectively in Colombia, the place maybe a cultural proximity with the US may need been a constructive issue. They even bid to stage subsequent yr’s World Cup, solely to lose out to a joint bid from Australia and New Zealand. And Colombia must their credit score one of many best moments within the historical past of girls’s soccer in South America, a 2-Zero win over France within the 2015 World Cup — considered one of solely two wins for the continent’s groups aside from Brazil.

Colombia did not make the final World Cup, and have two possibilities to succeed in the subsequent one with out having to undergo a playoff, both successful the semifinal or popping out on prime within the third-place match. However, in fact, what they most need to do is shine on this event in entrance of their very own followers.

Higher but, their opponents are Argentina. The footballing rivalry between Argentina and Colombia is considered one of South America’s most attention-grabbing. When Colombia launched knowledgeable league shortly after World Conflict II, it was Argentine gamers — like the nice Alfredo Di Stefano — who did most to get it up and working. So, when, in 1993, Colombia inflicted Argentina’s first-ever dwelling defeat in World Cup qualification — by the thumping margin of 5-Zero — some noticed it as a case of patricide.

The ladies’s sport doesn’t have the identical historical past however, even so, the Argentina facet carry into Monday’s match a well-established sense of shallowness. They defended stubbornly within the final World Cup, popping out of the event with credit score for the primary time, and on this event they recovered effectively from a probably demoralising heavy debut defeat to Brazil. Colombia in opposition to Argentina, then, holds wealthy promise.

Additionally holding promise: Sunday’s decider for fifth place, the place the winner makes it to a World Cup playoff. That is between Chile and Venezuela, the edges who completed third of their teams. For Chile, it was one thing of a disappointment — some noticed them because the second-best staff within the continent, a standing they haven’t justified. Venezuela even have grounds for remorse — true, they’re a kind of sides who’ve by no means certified for something, however they’ve been making wonderful progress, and received their first two matches.

Then got here the second of reality for Venezuela, together with a heavy defeat to Brazil. It left them needing to beat Argentina to succeed in the semifinals. They tried exhausting, however failed to attain for the second match working and misplaced 1-Zero.

Venezuela brought about one thing of a shock by beating Chile in a warm-up pleasant. However can they do it now, when it actually issues?

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