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Daily Archives: July 24, 2011
It is done. The only South American team in the last 4 in South Africa, the one that had that mystical challenger air about them, that lived and died as a team, the one should have gone to the final in South Africa – they have finally done it. The 2011 Copa America title goes to Uruguay, and with the prestige of topping the list of the South American team with the most Copa America titles (15, one ahead of Argentina).
It’s not often that I can get excited about national football, but this is an exception (although not for the 1st time, since we had nothing but praise for this squad in South Africa), because there is something very strong and club-like in the unity of performance of this team. And it should not be any surprise to anyone that they have succeeded (if the 3-0 score leaves any doubts, please address your queries to Dr. Ruth). Collectively they were already very strong last year, finding offensive inspiration and defensive grinta where others could only shrug their shoulders in desperation. Since then, they have also progressed individually, be it Suarez, who seems to have gained additional speed of execution and killer nous, be it Alvaro Pereira, who has gained in serenity and experience in beating many a Portuguese national record with Porto, be it Muslera who helped Lazio climb further than rarely before in recent years, or Edison Cavani, who feats have given Napolitans a chance to dream of European glories again.
But again, it must be emphasized that this is the fruit of a splendid team performance: what is remarkable about this Uruguay squad is the sense of equilibrium about the whole squad. And although Forlan invariably rates as a fuoriclasse in many eyes (and again proved it by lethal administering of 2 deadly blows this evening), it is not for his outlandish speed (like CR9) or his elfish dribbling skils (well, on the basis of looks, it should be dwarfish, but I’m feeling generous tonight). It’s for his grace, his tireless work rate, the regularity, awesome sense of positioning and above all humility in a collective effort. For were it not without the hunger and the assist from hound dog no.1 Rios for the 2nd goal, he would not be on the score sheet. Were it not for Diego Perez’s constant intimidation of the Paraguayan midfield, the blues may not have kept a clean sheet. Likewise for Alvaro Gonzales, who undoubtedly piled on crucial physical pressure on the already depleted Paraguay squad with his constant rapid forays into the red and white space, as well as the grinding but also creative efforts supplied by defenders Maxi Pereira and Cacéres (viva Sevilla). And of course let us not forget the central defense, Coates and that classy blonde Lugano, a pair that between should have got their combined skills converted into a goal if not at least a penalty in the early minutes of the game, but the referees missed an obvious handball.
Naysayers will be pushing off their stools in outrage to point out:
- Brazil or Argentina weren’t in their top form. For the former, see a perfect summary of their shortcomings on WSC here, while what’s new for the latter? Apart from the Olympics, when has Argentina been anything else but underwhelming? Besides, they had their chance against Uruguay and did not manage to get past.
- Paraguay were depleted by injuries of key players. True that, but they weren’t helped either by the coach’s changes in the 2nd half (why bring an injured Barrios on?) and that’s part of the game – managing your squad until the very end.
- Uruguay were basically overall very lucky.
But as I have pointed out previously, luck is simply preparation meeting opportunity. And these boys were well prepared. Congratulations, Diego & the celeste, you deserve it.
(*) Grandad and father have won one too.