The quarter-final phase of the controversy America Cup in Brazil is underway. Eight teams advance and remain in the knockout stage as matches unfold in empty stadiums across the country. Brazil conquered Chile 1-0 while Peru penalties needed to beat Paraguay after a draw 3-3 normally.
ESPN looks back on the action from the oldest international tournament in the world.
Will Brazil turn to Paqueta after the lead role?
The highlight of Tite’s five-year reign as coach of Brazil was the start: the first 18 months of 2016-17 when his team qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The unsung hero of this team was Renato Augusto, a smart and stylish midfielder who shed his long-standing fitness issues to play a key role, orchestrating the game in depth, connecting with the attack, keeping the ball moving and making the right decisions . However, when the World Cup arrived he was 100% lacking in fitness and had minimal impact on the bench – although he did score in the 2-1 loss to Belgium in the quarterfinals. Renato Augusto hasn’t played for the national team since 2018 and they missed him – never more than in the dismal first half they played in the Copa America quarter-final against Chile on Friday.
One of Tite’s recent ideas has been to play Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison as wide midfielders in front of defensive operators Fred and maisonmiro, allowing Neymar move to the center of the attacker Roberto Firmino. The idea is to free Neymar; the consequence may be to overload it. It’s a formation that can work, especially away from home when Brazil can play on the counterattack. But that leaves a gaping hole in matches like the one against Chile: when the pitch is bad, the opponents are happy when there is no goal and time flies towards the penalties.
Neymar, as his trainer likes to say, is both bow and arrow, both builder and finisher of shots. But it cannot be both at the same time. This match called for the introduction of Lyonnais Midfielder Lucas Paqueta.
Talented and versatile, Paqueta is still raw. Tite doesn’t trust him for the defensive side of midfield duties, fearing his tendency to lose the ball too close to his own goal, but he made an immediate impact after coming in at half-time for Firmino. In one minute he completed a neat move – left back Renan Lodi played the ball to Fred who helped him advance, Casemiro found Paqueta who played a brace with Neymar before beating the keeper with a nice volley.
With the deadlock broken and more presence in the midfield, there was the prospect of a good second half. But, within minutes, Gabriel Jesus was sent off for a brash challenge and the game changed.
Coming back to 10 men, Paqueta had to cover the right flank and Neymar was forced to try to become both bow and arrow again. Brazil have held their ground but, for the rest of the Copa America, the PSG star will have to operate collectively and Tite will surely try to foster a partnership between him and Paqueta in an effort to recreate what he had with Renato Augusto during that time. honeymoon.
Brazil and Chile last met in a tournament on Brazilian soil in the round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup. Brazil won 3-2 on penalties after a draw 1 -1 in regulation time, but it was tight. With almost the last kick of the match, Chilean striker Mauricio Pinilla rocked the Brazilian crossbar. Pinilla found the moment so memorable that he got his crossbar tattooed as, in hindsight, many Brazilian fans might have wished the ball had gone down a few inches to spare them the humiliation of this 7-1 defeat against Germany in the semi-finals.
The crossbar was featured in this game as well – not in such a dramatic form, but one that could hold some significance in the long run.
Chile had almost the entire second half to squeeze against 10 men and they did everything in their power. There were a moment or two of panic in the Brazilian defense, and a moment for the Chileans to linger wistfully. Eugenio Mena center of the left and head of Ben Brereton made a menacing loop towards the goal, coming back from the crossbar.
Chile are an aging team; many of the squad were Pinilla teammates seven years ago, and long before. Eight of the starting eleven were over 30 and coach Martin Lasarte referred to his “old rockers”, while the Chilean press speculated that this match could be their last gig.
They’ve pushed Brazil hard enough to prove worthy of a recall, but they can’t last forever. There has to be a change going forward and their biggest success at this tournament has been the introduction of 22-year-old England-born Brereton, who has ‘Brereton Diaz’ on his jersey, highlighting his family name. mother. Adding pace, push and energy, the midfielder couldn’t do enough to beat Brazil on the night, but he showed he can help Chile move forward. .
Gareca leads Peru in Brazil rematch
Peruvian coach Ricardo Gareca worked his magic once again as his side beat Paraguay after an exciting game. He mobilized very limited resources to seal progress to the semi-finals and did so without the only world-class player the country has produced in recent times: captain and center-forward Paul Guerrero.
Peru’s all-time top scorer is recovering from his latest setback, a long-term knee injury and Gareca’s introduction of the Italian-born striker Gianluca Lapadula filled the void. Lapadula is versatile, mobile and cunning, and, having scored twice, played a role in Paraguay’s defensive organizer Gustavo Gomez get a red card.
But even more important is André Carrillo. The special one Watford the winger has just turned 30 and is now based in the Middle East, but has played the football of his life for Peru. It could even be that Guerrero’s absence freed Carrillo. Without a focused center-forward, he doesn’t need to play only on the left wing and can cross the attack line to find pockets of space from which to do his damage.
Carrillo was involved in all three goals, but he was not involved in the penalty shootout and will not be in the semi-finals. In the last 10 minutes of the game he was unlucky to receive a second yellow card and Peru had to finish the game without him. It’s one thing to play Paraguay for a few minutes without Carrillo. Playing an entire semi-final against Brazil without him is a whole different thing.
In their opening game of this tournament, Peru were swept away 4-0 by Brazil. If they won Monday’s rematch, it would be a bigger shock than the elimination of Brazil by Honduras in the Copa America 20 years ago, but Peru secured a narrow victory over Brazil in one game. friendly in Los Angeles almost two years ago, so it’s not impossible.
If Peru had visited Paraguay, they would have come out of the competition entirely on credit. Diligent as always, Gareca will try to forge a path to glory, but Brazil will be a very different challenge.