Last night saw hosts Chile beat Ecuador 2-0 at the start of the 2015 Copa America, an international football tournament with a difference. Flare in this part of the world is a by-product of the expansive, quick game most sides in South America play. It isn’t thought of as unnecessary or an act of showboating, no flare in this part of the world is just another tool to get the ball in the back of the net.
Fans of Pep Guardiola style possession football might want to give this display of pacey, through the pitch football a miss though. The ideology of most sides in this tournament is to get the ball from back to front with blistering pace and no side in world football showcases a talent for the style more than the current Chile squad with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez spearheading their attack.
The only drawback to feasting your eyes on such a spectacle of pacey, frenetic football is the time difference which means most games will be played at 00.30am at the earliest. If you are a night owl you are in for a very special treat.
Whilst the world cup offers a rare insight into many sides and players you would not always be able to see, it cannot offer the quality of games played in the Copa America. Every game, it would seem is played as though each side’s life depends on it. Absolutely nothing is left on the pitch.
As well as providing an opportunity to see established super stars such as the Barcelona front three playing for their respective countries, the tournament showcases future raw talent. Make no mistake Premier League sides will have sent their scouts here on mass and it would be no surprise to see some previously unheard of players lining up for sides across the country next season.
Despite their humiliation at the hands of Germany at last year’s World Cup, this tournament offers Brazil the chance of redemption. They can banish the awful memory of that semi-final defeat on home soil with a win here in Chile. Brazil will always attract viewing figures; they are a far more robust side under Dunga and still the samba kings whilst in Neymar they have a successor to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Rivaldo’s crown.
Then there is Argentina and Messi. The little magician is back to his frightening best after finally overcoming his injury problems. He is due a big performance for his country and given how he finished the domestic season who would bet against that happening in Chile?
In spite of the late nights to come there is plenty to look forward to in this tournament over the next month. Your boss probably won’t thank you for it but missing out on a few hours of sleep has got to be well worth it. Let the football fiesta begin!