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Analysing Brazil’s 3-1 victory over Peru in the 2019 Copa America final – How Tite got it right when it mattered

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Match Report and Analysis of Brazil’s 3-1 victory over Peru in the 2019 Copa America final

Brazil finally ended their 12-year drought for silverware in the Copa America as the Selecao beat Peru 3-1 at the Maracana Stadium in the final of the 2019 Copa America on Sunday to get their hands on the trophy for the first time since 2007.

First-half goals from Everton Soares and Gabriel Jesus followed by Richarlison’s late penalty meant that Tite’s side bagged their ninth Copa America title.

Having suffered arguably one of the worst ever humiliations in the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final against Germany on home soil, Brazil were under pressure to deliver the goods in front of a raucous home crowd at the Maracana and completely demolished Peru in the final.

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In doing so, the Selecao lifted the Holy Grail for the fifth time on home soil, thus continuing their remarkable feat of winning the Copa America at home on each occasion.

The build-up to the game

Brazil had failed to live up to the expectations last time around when the Copa America was held in the United States (in 2016), with the 5-time world champions crashing out of the tournament in the group stages.

However, their wait for a first major trophy since the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup finally came to an end, as Tite’s side romped home to a rather comfortable 3-1 victory over Peru, sparking wild celebrations amongst one and all present at the Maracana.

The Selecao were always going to be the outright favourites heading into the final against Peru, especially after the 2-0 humbling of arch-rivals Argentina in the semi-finals.

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Peru were whitewashed 5-0 by Brazil in the group stages but many would have anticipated an upset to be on the cards in the final given that Peru had fought back brilliantly from that early setback to make it all the way.

Ricardo Gareca’s side were high on confidence following their scintillating 3-0 triumph over two-time defending champions Chile in the semi-finals, although they probably knew that it would take a herculean effort to find a way past Brazil in the finals.

The fact that Brazil hadn’t conceded a goal in the entire tournament prior to the final made the task took ever more daunting.

As it happened

First-half

Both Tite and Gareca fielded an unchanged line-up from the semi-final encounters and Brazil eventually caught the game by the scruff of the neck following an energetic start from Peru.

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And didn’t take long for them to find the breakthrough, as Gabriel Jesus’ inch-perfect cut-back was turned in by a completely unmarked Everton Soares, who made an intelligent run to the far post and found the net with a crisp finish.

Brazil assumed control of the proceedings in the midfield, courtesy of their double pivot of Arthur and Casemiro in the middle of the park, as Peru struggled to get into the game, hardly creating any clear-cut scoring chances.

The home side’s innate ability to carve out chances out of nothing could have produced another goal soon but Philippe Countinho’s close-range effort was knocked just wide following a clever cut-back from Everton Soares down the left.

Peru were complete strangers in the final third but in a twist of fate, Gareca’s side found the much-needed breakthrough when Thiago Silva was adjudged to have handled the ball inside his own penalty area.

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The referee initially pointed to the penalty spot and after a brief look at the VAR replays, the decision stood. Paulo Guerrero stepped up confidently and coolly sent Alisson the wrong way from 12 yards to restore parity in the 44th minute.

The Copa America is known for producing plenty of thrills and spills, and it was no different this time either. The goal only proved to be a temporary reprieve for Peru, as Gabriel Jesus’ strike with essentially the last kick of the first-half put the Selecao in the driver’s seat for the second time in the game.

Arthur won the ball back in the midfield with a neat challenge and showed the presence of mind to thread an early pass to the Man City forward, who placed it beautifully into the corner of the net to raise the noise levels at the Maracana.

Brazil’s second goal handed them a clear advantage going into the interval and Jesus was the name on the fans’ lips due to his involvement in both the goals.

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Second-half

Things hardly got any better for Peru following the restart as Brazil went all out in their pursuit of a third and decisive goal, with Coutinho coming close in the 51st minute. Peru managed to create a few more chances but their decision-making in the final third was next to horrible.

Roberto Firmino could have got his name on the scoresheet, only for the Liverpool star to fire his header wide following a wonderful piece of link-up play from Everton and Sandro down the left-hand side.

Gabriel Jesus’ sending off

Peru somehow managed to keep the game alive and they were handed a massive boost with twenty minutes left to play, as Jesus turned from a hero to a villain with his sudden rush of blood.

The former Palmeiras man’s clumsy challenge on Zambrano was deemed worthy of a second yellow card, much to the anger and frustration of the home crowd at the Maracana, and Peru had the numerical advantage.

Fluminense left-back Miguel Trauco forced Alisson into a save with a powerful effort from 20 yards and Brazil were pinned back inside their own half, courtesy of some energetic attacking play from Peru.

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Tite’s masterstroke and Gareca’s reply

That, however, didn’t last long and Tite’s double substitution to bring on Eder Militao and Richarlison in place of Firmino and Coutinho shut the doors in the visitor’s surge for an equalizer.

A third centre-back provided additional cover at the back to the Selecao, while Richarlison proved to be a nightmare with his pace and power up front.

Gareca went all out to exploit Brazil’s numerical disadvantage and replaced both holding midfielders, Yoshimar Yotun and Renato Tapia, with attackers Raul Ruidiaz and Christofer Gonzales, with a view to countering the home side’s defensive approach.

He further brought on the influential Andy Polo as an impact substitution in place of a tiring Andre Carrillo but those changes hardly made any difference as Brazil looked quite comfortable inside their own half.

Controversial penalty decision

With things drawing nearer to the final whistle, it became more and more apparent that Peru didn’t have enough in their locker to stop Brazil from bagging their ninth Copa title, and their hopes of staging a sensational comeback were dashed when Zambrao’s challenge on Everton inside the box was deemed worthy of a penalty. 

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Everton lost control of the ball with a heavy touch following a delicious run and while the defender’s challenge looked more like a strong shoulder-to-shoulder contact, Brazil were awarded a penalty.

Richarlison wasn’t going to let the golden opportunity go begging and the Everton man applied the finishing touches from the spot to send the fans into a mood of delirium and ecstasy.

Brazil finally conceded a goal in the 2019 Copa America but Selecao’s new generation of stars did enough to claim their fifth title on home soil, nevertheless.

Penalties, red cards, missed chances and some fine individual performances – the final saw it all but in the end, Brazil were the undisputed winners.

Argentina

Tactic talk – Here’s how Brazil edged past Argentina to reach the Copa America final

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How Brazil edged past Argentina in the Copa America semi-final

Brazil’s quest for their first Copa America crown since 2007 has taken them to the finals of the 2019 edition of the tournament and the Selecao are just one step away from lifting the prestigious trophy for the 9th time in their footballing history.

Tite’s side will be the outright favourites at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday when they lock horns with Peru but Brazil’s route to the title is unlikely to be straightforward given that Peru will be high on confidence following a resounding 3-0 humbling of two-time defending champions Chile in the semi-finals.

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Despite all their heroics and eye-watering achievements in the past, things haven’t quite been the same for Brazil over the past ten years or so.

Following their most recent World Cup triumph which came in 2002, Brazil bagged back-to-back Copa America titles in 2004 and 2007 but their dominance has waned ever since.

Brazil boast of an envious record at home in the Copa America though, given that the Selecao have won the title each time when the tournament has been staged in their own nation (1919, 1922, 1949 and 1989).

The Copa America has always been widely acclaimed as one of the most prestigious continental tournaments in the history of football, noted for its South American flavour, diversity, stiff competition and unpredictability. 

The commencement of each edition of the tournament not only sends the excitement levels high amongst the football lovers in South America but millions of viewers all over the world stay glued to their television sets to witness some of the world-class stars weave their magic. And those excitement levels cross all limits when Brazil and Argentina take the field.

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The 2019 edition of the tournament has once again lived up to the expectations and has already produced plenty of magical moments, fine individual performances, enthralling comebacks, edge-of-the-seat thrillers, upsets and heartbreaks. The best might be yet to come though, with Brazil set to go head to head with 2-time Copa winners Peru in the finals.

Brazil haven’t really been at their best in the tournament but they have done enough to stamp their authority over the other nations by making it to the final.

As a matter of fact, Tite’s side are yet to concede a goal in the 2019 Copa America, something which speaks volumes of their organised and disciplined approach.

After beating Paraguay on penalties in the quarter-finals, Brazil were expected to be up against it when they took on bitter rivals Argentina in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

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However, Tite’s men produced arguably their best display of the tournament so far and edged out the 14-time champions 2-0 to set up a final showdown with Peru.

As Brazil prepare to regain their dominance and claim their first Copa America title since 2007, let us take a look back at how things went by in the 2-0 semi-final fixture earlier in the week.

Here is a review and tactical analysis of what happened when the Selecao clashed with La Albiceleste on Wednesday.

Tactical Analysis

Brazil went into the game against Argentina with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Tite fielding Roberto Firmino as the lone man up front with Philippe Coutinho in the No.10 role.

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Everton Soares and Man City star Gabriel Jesus provided the width on their flank, while the likes of Casemiro and Arthur formed the midfield pivot. Alisson started in goal with Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Alex Sandro at the back.

Argentina, on the other hand, opted for a 4-1-2-1-2 diamond formation, with coach Lionel Scaloni fielding Lautaro Matinez and Sergio Aguero in front of goal.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi started at the tip of the diamond, while Leandro Paredes featured at the base with Acuna and Rodrigo De Paul on either side. Nicolas Taglifico started at left-back and Juan Foyth assumed makeshift duties on the right, while Pezzella and Otamendi were the two centre-backs.

Brazil looked to play out from the back, with one of the two full-backs dropping down to provide the passing option for the two centre-backs to build up the play and move forward.

The other full-back moved higher up the pitch to provide the width on the flanks and this allowed the Selecao to control possession in the opening stages.

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That sort of approach prompted the likes of Messi, Aguero and Martinez to press higher up the pitch and disrupt the passing rhythm of Brazil’s defenders.

Although that ploy worked to a certain extent, it wasn’t long before Brazil’s double pivot in the midfield stamped their authority and negated Argentina’s pressing.

Arthur often dropped deep to provide an easy passing option for the centre-backs when Argentina’s frontmen tried to close down the passing lanes to the full-backs, which allowed the Selecao to dictate the tempo of the game.

Now, Argentina found it a lot more difficult to cope with such a dynamic approach and it became apparent that they didn’t have a plan ‘B’ to outclass Brazil.

As a result, Argentina seemed to forget the age-old cliche – ‘when you press the opposition, you have to press as a unit’.

The likes of Paredes, Acuna and De Paul just didn’t do enough, and when Messi, Aguero and Martinez tried to press, Argentina left way too much room between the lines for the likes of Coutinho and Firmino to exploit.

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That coupled with the attacking influence of full-backs Alves and Sandro meant that Brazil had a wider attacking range as compared to Argentina, who were limited in that aspect given that Foyth is not really a specialist right-back by any means.

Lionel Messi, who was supposed to be the main man for Argentina, dropped down in the midfield to create something for the likes of Aguero, Martinez and others.

However, Brazil’s midfield pivot of Casemiro and Arthur kept close tabs on the magician and never really allowed him to get into dangerous spaces. 

While Brazil continued to create those 1vs1 and 2vs2 situations in the attacking third, Messi, despite being a better well-rounded creative player than Coutinho, didn’t get the same kind of support from his teammates and his influence wasn’t the same.

In fact, things got worse for La Albiceleste when they went 1-0 behind and chased the game in the second half. Some extravagant and disorganised pressing saw them get scattered in sixes and sevens, and it became more and more apparent that Scaloni lacked a concrete plan to handle the quarters of the game.

As Messi dropped deeper, the other midfielders all moved further up the pitch, thus isolating the magician and denying him an easy passing option forward.

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Brazil hardly did too much out of the ordinary and in all honesty, Argentina themselves brought about their own downfall. Scaloni’s ultra-attacking approach towards the end left acres of space at the back and Argentina became vulnerable to counter-attacks, with Firmino putting the final nail in the coffin in the 71st minute.

As it happened

Brazil always looked the more likely of the two teams to open the scoring in the opening stages and they drew first blood in the 19th minute.

Dani Alves used his pace and guile to skip past a couple of challenges before passing it on the right to Firmino, who came up with an inch-perfect cut-back to set up Gabriel Jesus for an easy finish.

Argentina could have had the equaliser in the 30th minute when Messi’s dangerous cross into the box was met with a loopy header from Aguero, only for the ball to bounce back off the crossbar and fall to a yellow shirt rather than a sky blue one.

In the second half, Lautaro Martinez met a perfect cut-back across the edge of the box but his sliced left-footed effort was kept out comfortably by Alisson.

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Moments later, Aguero, Messi and Martinez combined brilliantly to tee up De Paul for a shot, only for the Serie A star to fire his effort wide of the mark.

Argentina though, kept probing away at the opposition and came tantalisingly close to scoring the equaliser in the 57th minute. Messi’s left-footed volley crashed off the post and bounced away from the net before the magician forced Alisson to make a save from a free-kick in the 66th minute.

With La Albiceleste committing men forward in numbers, Gabriel Jesus took advantage of the wide-open spaces on offer with a lung-busting run on the counter-attack and evaded Otamendi’s challenge to set up Firmino for the second goal in the 71st minute, thus ending Argentina’s hopes of completing a comeback.

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Why Pellegrini must urge West Ham owner Sullivan to splash £43m on this gifted Brazilian ace

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Felipe Anderson

Felipe Anderson, who currently plays as a midfielder for Lazio, has been attracting a lot of interest from newly-appointed West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini.

The London club are yet to find a replacement for the long-gone Dmitri Payet, whose sizzling style of football once dazzled the Hammers’ faithful. The Brazilian is also attracting a lot of interest from other Premier League sides like Southampton and Leicester City.

West Ham often struggled in front of the goal last season. And if not for the prolific Marko Arnautovic, their top-scorer in the league with 11 goals, the club might have even had to battle the prospect of relegation.

The arrival of Mexican poacher Javier Hernandez helped ease the burden to an extent, with the injury-prone Andy Carroll struggling for fitness yet again.

However, the Hammers continue to lack creativity and momentum in the middle of the park, with Manuel Lanzini being their only threat. While the inevitable end to Mark Noble’s West Ham career is looming, Felipe Anderson could be the man to take his spot.

Anderson, 25, scored four goals from the midfield for the Serie A club last season. He has spent five years in Rome since a switch from Santos in 2013.

Over the course of the last campaign, Anderson played a crucial role for Lazio as the Italian outfit fought hard to secure a spot for themselves in the top-four.

The Brazilian also averaged 1.4 shots and 1.9 key passes throughout last season. His pace and direct style of football will certainly provide the Hammers’ midfield with a breath of fresh air, as Anderson averages 3.7 dribbles per game. With such impressive numbers, Felipe Anderson could be a huge bargain for West Ham.

He is clearly talented and also boasts of immense potential but Anderson must unleash the true extent of his skills and Pellegrini could be the perfect manager to help him to do so.

Prior to his stint with the London-based club, the coach played a major role in the development of players like Mario Balotelli, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and many others. He could surely be the perfect mentor to the young Brazilian, who still has his best years ahead of him.

Lazio are reportedly commanding a fee of around £43m for the midfielder, who joined them in 2013. Now, it remains to be seen if David Sullivan is willing to splash the cash on the Brazilian. However, it would be wise if they did so.

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