The Copa America had been a bit of a dull affair up until last night. Columbia hit all of America right in the feelings as they cherry-picked two goals from the freedom-loving red, white and blue, with the help of Michael Bradley’s continued buffoonery. That was followed up with a snoozer between Paraguay and the 2014 World Cup sweethearts, Costa Rica. The match finished 0-0.
Peru snuffed out a valiant Haiti defense to win 1-0, but the build up was peaking towards Brazil’s encounter with Ecuador. Neymar’s absence was an obvious blight, but this is Brazil…. and they drew 0-0. Another snoozer indeed.
Venezuela then put down another valiant output by 10-man Jamaica, but we were still left waiting for that big time break out match that welcomed forth the Copa America Centenario, the competition we have been looking forward to for months.
That match came with Mexico and Uruguay, as the two played out a 3-1 thriller in favor of our neighbors down south (immediately to our South, I should say). Finally! A breakthrough match that was going to help us get over all the snoozers and key absentees we had been forced to endure. Even without Suarez, the match entertained.
Tonight is the big game. Argentina and Chile. The 2014 World Cup and Copa America 2015 runner-ups against the 2015 Copa America champions. It’s the first marquee match up of the competition and it figures to be a fight to the final whistle.
The only bad news is that Lionel Messi will be missing. First we miss Neymar in Brazil, then Suarez for Uruguay, now we miss Messi in Argentina. It is disheartening, but not so much so that we should tune out. These previous matches have been the appetizer. Missing Neymar against Ecuador deflated the match, but missing Messi against Chile will not follow suit, much like Suarez’s absence against Mexico didn’t. There is plenty else to watch for in this match.
For starters, it’s Argentina. They have Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and stars galore to help us forget that the little magician isn’t on the pitch.
Secondly, it’s against Chile. Alexis Sanchez, the Chilean Messi, is coming off Copa America glory just one year ago and he is going to be primed to follow it up with more success, especially given the lackluster season that Arsenal put forth. Chile gives Alexis his favored striker role and he frequently makes the most of it.
These two nations have a history that can’t be taken away by the absence of one man, no matter who that man might be. Argentina wants revenge from being downed in the Copa and World Cup finals in the previous two years and Chile want to remind the world that their Golden Age is still in full swing.