The Copa América Centenario is an international men’s association football tournament being held in the United States in 2016. The competition is a celebration of the centenary of CONMEBOL and the Copa América, and is the first Copa América hosted outside of South America.
The tournament is the 45th edition of Copa América since its inception in 1916. It is being held as part of an agreement between CONMEBOL (the South American football confederation) and CONCACAF (the football confederation for North and Central America and the Caribbean) as a special edition between the usual four-year cycle, and features an expanded field of 16 teams, an increase from the usual 12, with all ten teams from CONMEBOL and six teams from CONCACAF.
The winner of this tournament will not receive an invitation to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, as Chile has already qualified by winning the 2015 Copa América. In a nutshell, this Copa America is more of a celebratory tournament as compared to the other Copa Americas over the years.
Well it’s an International tournament nonetheless. Let’s have a look on the 5 most talked about incidents in Copa America 2016:-
Raul Ruidiaz’s handball against Brazil
Brazil needed only a point against Peru to make it to the knockout stage. Not many people thought that Brazil would be knocked out at the group despite having a fairly easy group. This match will always be remembered more because of the controversy that took place in the 75th minute of the match. Raul Ruidiaz clearly used his hand to put the ball into the back of the net. The refrees couldn’t notice the foul play and awarded Peru with the goal. This goal gave Peru a much needed win and put them at the top of the group. Following the loss Brazil finished 3rd and were subsequently knocked out of the tournament. How harsh was that on Brazil!
Chile’s rampant performance against Mexico
Chile vs Mexico was anticipated to be one of the most competitive matches. It was a evenly set quarter finals. Mexico played some brilliant football in the group stage, thus topping their group. Chile, on the other hand, were considered as one of the favorites to lift the trophy before the tournament begun. But, this match resulted in just the opposite to the expectations. Chile, especially in the second half, ran riots as they scored 7 times, YES 7 times, to secure a thumping 7-0 win. It was the most one sided quarter finals out of the four. Poor Mexico!
Sergio Romero’s bizzare penalty save against Venezuela
Argentina vs Venezuela was one of the four quarter finals. Everyone expected Argentina to win. Accordingly, Argentina won the contest comfortably scoring four goals and conceding just one. But, this match had a bizzare moment that fans would remember for a long time. Argentina were leading 2-0 when Venezuela were awarded a penalty, right at the stroke of Half Time. Luis Seijas stepped up to take the responsibilty. What followed was shear humiliation for the striker! Seijas tried the clever Panenka penalty. To his misfortune Sergio Romero didn’t move a inch and caught the ball quite easily. Master stroke by Romero may be, when he decided not to move. Better luck next time Luis Seijas!
Luis Suarez’s unrest with his own Manager
You just cannot keep this person away from the news, let it be good or bad! Luis Suarez suffered a hamstring injury before the tournament started. Luis Suarez was in the Uruguay’s squad despite the injury but his involvement on the pitch was always a doubt. Uruguay faced Venezuela in a must win game to qualify for the knockout rounds.Uruguay were trailing 1-0 when Suarez thought he was healthy enough to play so he put his shinguards and boots on, got taped up and warmed up to go in. Only he was told that he would not be entering the match and that’s when the outburst started.Suarez was incensed. The former Liverpool player remonstrated with his manager before punching his fist against the perspex glass on the side of the dugout. He then ripped off his bib and threw it to the ground. Let’s appreciate his desire to play for the nation and help them succeed. But sorry Suarez, this year wasn’t meant to be yours!
Lionel Messi, The Phenomena
Well many might question my English because I added Lionel Messi to the list of talked about incidents. Let me make it clear,I am not talking about Messi as a person. I am talking about Messi’s moments of brilliance through out the tournament. Messi also had an injury scare before coming into the tournament. He was rested for Argentina’s first game vs Chile. Lionel Messi came as a second half substitute in the second match against Panama. It took him just 20 minutes to score a beautiful hattrick which included a mesmerizing free kick. Messi also played a part in the 5th goal which was scored by Sergio Aguero.
Messi again was rested for the first half in Argentina’s third match against Bolivia. He came on in the second half. Two incidents are worth noting in this match. First one was when Messi nutmegged Bolivia’s keeper and was set on goal but luckily for Bolivia Messi was in an offside position before nutmegging the keeper. The second incident was when Messi was involved in a little fight with Bolivia’s Ocampos. We don’t see him fighting too often!
Messi had an impressive game against Venezuela in the quarter finals scoring one and assisting two for Higuain and Lamela. He went into the semi finals against USA, tied with Gabriel Batistuta as nation’s all time leading goal scorer. He scored an exquiste free kick in that match to overtake Batitusta. Messi is now Argentina’s leading goal scorer of all time as well as the top scorer of the tournament with 5 goals. Adding to this, Messi also has 4 assists to his name. He is just having an exceptional tournament!
Arguably the best player in the world, Messi is yet to win anything with his National Team. Messi, till now, has been abdicating all the challenges thrown at him. After losing two consecutive finals in last two years with Argentina, Messi finally hopes to add an international trophy to his CV.
The finals of Copa America will take place on early Monday morning, Indian timing, the coming week. This year’s final is a repeat of last year’s final. Argentina and Chile will will grace the auspicious occasion. Copa America 2016 has been a high scoring tournament with 90 goals scored in 30 matches. Argentina and Chile are the top two goal scoring sides respectively in this tournamemt. So expectations are that the final will a high goal scoring thriller. Only time will say whether Messi can finally give his Nation an illusive trophy or Bravo’s men will outshine the Albicelestes again and defend the beautiful golden title.