Alexis Sanchez, Copa America, Chile

Copa America: Chile can defend title despite setback

The first marquee match of Copa America Centenario lived up to its expectations. Chile vs Argentina, rivals for life. Everything about the game screamed ‘juggernaut vs juggernaut’ and by the end, there were no players who couldn’t hang their hat on a match well fought. It’s why we call it the beautiful game.

Argentina emerged victorious by a count of 2-1, even without Lionel Messi. The loss set Chile back, slapping them three points behind with two matches to go. It’s not insurmountable by any means, but the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not the Chilean’s can repeat their Copa America title from just one year ago. Especially after this ‘setback’.

For the most part, Argentina were in control for the duration of the 90. Angel Di Maria dominated proceedings, building off of a huge recovery season at PSG.

With all of their stars in full swing, Chile was unable to beat Sergio Romero. Alexis couldn’t do it, Arturo Vidal couldn’t do it. It took into second half stoppage time for them to actually put one up against Argentina.

It’s certainly not the start that Chile would have dreamed of, but there is plenty of room to be optimistic. Mainly because of one man – Alexis Sanchez.

The Arsenal attacker has an unquenchable thirst for goal. He mentioned during his second season in England that he doesn’t sleep when he doesn’t score for Arsenal. That passion carries over to Chile, if not multiplies. Alexis did not score against Argentina, a not-so-loved rival, so you can bet he is going to be working double time to correct that for the duration of the Copa.

Once he does score and he acquires a taste for it, you know what comes next – a burst. Alexis scores in bursts, he always has. Being denied builds up the passion and by the time he scores, he just can’t stop.

Argentina almost did Chile a favor, because Alexis will be matched up against Bolivia and Panama to close out the group stage. If I was a betting man, I would put a nice chunk of change on Alexis being able to start that burst in time for Chile to press on into the knockout phases.

There isn’t a team in this competition that Chile cannot beat. They proved that last year. This is the golden age of Chilean football. They are no longer the David to Argentina’s and Brazil’s Goliath. They are heavyweights right up there with them. This setback did nothing but build the hunger. The Copa holders won’t go down that easily.

About Josh Sippie

Josh has been published on CBS, FourFourTwo and more, as well as serving as the editor of Stateside of Soccer and Pain in the Arsenal. Nothing is more important than growing the greatest sport in the world in the greatest nation in the world.