Sunday, July 5, 2015


The air could not get much more electric. Chileans were chanting along to their national anthem, waving the flag, and if the stadium had a roof, it would have long flown away. The few Argentinians that had gotten a ticket were just as passionate. The recipe for a special final. Who would take it: Chile for the first time ever or Argentina for the 15th, but first time since 1993?

The first half of the big final was pretty even and very entertaining. Argentina had more structure in their game and additionally the best chance. After a Messi freekick from the right, Agüero was able to head the ball on target, just to be denied by Claudio Bravo. Before, Chile had an opportunity, that never went as it could have. Their best man in the first half, Valdivia, was wide open in the penalty area all of a sudden and instead of shooting tried to find a striker in the middle.

La Roja tried to find success predominantly over the right flank, long balls behind the Argentinian back four found Isla more than once. Argentina’s Rojo continued to be a liability at leftback for his team. After all, the hosts could not profit from it. Especially the main figures like Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal were too cute too often and gave the ball away easily. That led to counters, but not in the decisive breakthrough for the Albiceleste. Messi was contained well for the most part, di Maria was the player that stood out the most. That soon ended due to an injury after he sprinted down half the pitch and pulled a muscle. The Manchester United player was replaced with Lavezzi, who had the last chance of the first half, firing a shot right onto the keeper’s fists.

Despite many wasted chances, the game was fast, and especially in the opening stages I feared I would miss something if I looked elsewhere for too long.

Chile came back out on fire in the second half, very offensive with good forechecking which made them win back a lot of balls early and in dangerous areas for their opponents. Pretty much exactly what people had paid for. Still huge chances remained non existent, a blocked Vidal shot probably the biggest. The clock already showed 70 minutes and if something would not change soon, we were heading straight to extra time. Strangely enough, Chile coach Sampaoli took his biggest creative element in Valdivia out of the game right after. Nevertheless, La Roja had one of its best pressure periods right after, Alexis Sanchez beat the Argentinian offside trap but his nice volley landed wide. Like in the first half, the guests had the biggest opportunity at the end, Messi with a nice ball to the left brought Lavezzi into play, who crossed it low to the far post, but substitute Higuain could only direct it into the side netting.

What counts remain the goals though and since there weren’t any after 90 minutes, this match needed 30 more. One has to conclude that the game lost quite a bit of its quality from the first half. What always remained was sheer endless effort with a lot of heart from both teams.

The general trend of the second half meanwhile continued: Chile were the slightly better team, without using their advantage to any extent. They simply need too many chances to score a goal which is usually fatal against the big sides. Proven again by Alexis Sanchez who used an awful error by the Argentinian defense only to fire the ball over the crossbar. You guessed it, even 120 minutes were not enough to determine a winner, penalties would decide the Copa América.

Higuain hammered the second Argentinian one into the sky, and Bravo became Chile’s hero when he saved the next one from Banega. Since Chile did not leave any doubts with their own kicks and Alexis Sanchez scored with a Panenka, the hosts finally became Copa América champions for the first time in history!

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The moment a whole country has waited for: Alexis Sanchez converts the decisive penalty in style and gives Chile the Copa América crown.


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