Football Features

Messi’s struggles and Suarez’s tears: The story of Copa America 2019 so far

By Ollie Thomas

Published: 17:55, 1 July 2019

Forever a tournament which seems to fly under the radar across the Atlantic, the Copa America has been at it’s entertaining, unpredictable best this summer.

This year’s edition, the 46th in total, is being held in the magical country of Brazil, with 12 teams battling it out to be crowned Conmebol’s best team.

Chile are bidding to win the tournament for the third consecutive time: something which no other nation has managed in the modern era. In what has been a competition rife with drama, we’re giving you the lowdown as we enter the business end of the Copa America.

Who made the Copa America 2019 semi-finals?

With three out of four of the quarter-finals ending 0-0 after extra-time, it took the lottery of penalties to decide who would make it into the last four. After dominating against 10-man Paraguay, Brazil booked their place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2007 after a 4-3 victory on penalties. The hosts will face fierce rivals Argentina, who were the only team to score in the round following their 2-0 win against underdogs Venezuela. This mouth-watering tie is not one to be missed, kicking off at 1:30 am BST on July 2.

After VAR twice ruled out goals for the holders, it took a 5-4 victory on penalties for Chile to edge past Colombia. In the shock of the round, Luis Suarez missed the decisive penalty as Uruguay crashed out to Peru, with the Barcelona star visibly upset. Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin both missed golden opportunities in normal time, meaning Uruguay miss out on the semi-finals for the third tournament in a row.

Who are the favourites?

Brazil (8/11): KEY STAT: Goalkeeper Alisson hasn’t conceded a goal in the tournament yet, saving a penalty in the last round.

Argentina (7/2): KEY STAT: This is the fifth time in Copa America history that Argentina have reached the semi-finals.

Chile (7/2): KEY STAT: Chile have won their last three Copa America penalty shoot-outs, including victories in each of the last two finals.

Peru (10/1): KEY STAT: Peru have reached the semi-finals for the third time in four tournaments, but they haven’t reached the final since winning the tournament in 1975.

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Asia represented

Despite being predominantly South America-based teams, Conmebol is made up of only 10 nations, so teams from other confederations are invited to help make up a workable structure for the Copa America.

This year saw Japan and future World Cup hosts Qatar make the trip to Brazil to compete in the group stages. Japan were placed in Group C with Uruguay, Chile and Ecuador, where they were able to hold Uruguay to an entertaining 2-2 draw. A damaging 4-0 defeat to Chile in their opening game proved costly, as they failed to qualify as the best third-placed team.

Qatar made the headlines in their opening game as they came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Paraguay, but a narrow defeat to Colombia meant they needed something from their final group game against Argentina to qualify: a game which they lost 2-0.

Brazil struggle with expectation

Hosts Brazil have been typically inconsistent: 3-0 and 5-0 wins against Bolivia and Peru coming either side of a 0-0 draw with Venezuela, a result which sparked boos from the ever-expectant home fans.

In the absence of Neymar, Phillipe Coutinho has been particularly impressive. The Barcelona midfielder scored a brace in their opening game before he, Robert Firmino and Gremio winger Everton helped dismantle Peru. Everton has been Neymar’s replacement and his unwavering confidence has sparked discussion of a move to the Premier League.

At the other end of the pitch, Champions League winner Alisson has continued his imperious form. The shot-stopper is yet to concede a goal in the tournament and when your defence is looking unbreakable, you always stand a chance on the international stage.

Messi fails to get going

In a tournament which no one seems to take control of, Argentina stuttered through their group after a shock defeat to Colombia in their opening game. Lionel Messi has failed to get going and the Argentines will hope that their GOAT can come alive in their mammoth semi-final tie with Brazil. In his absence, Lautaro Martinez and Giovani Lo Celso have stepped up with impressive displays, with both scoring in their quarter-final clash with Venezuela.

With two international footballing powerhouses (who also happen to be bitter rivals) coming to blows and the holders facing the eternal underdog, the semi-finals of the Copa America promise to be enthralling encounters. It will be well worth setting your alarm for 1:30 am at the tail-end of next week: don’t say we didn’t warn you.