Copa America 2007: Final

 Estadio José Encarnación 'Pachencho' Romero Stadium in Maracaibo

Estadio Jose Pachencho Romero ,the location for the final of the Copa America 2007

Argentina V Brazil (KO. 10.05pm)

In a repeat of the 2004 edition of the Copa America, Brazil and Argentina square up in the final tonight in Estadio Jose Pachencho Romero in Maracaibo. These two South American footballing giants have proved themselves more than worthy of a place in the last two while defending champions Brazil suffer the ignominity of having the ‘underdogs’ tag. Argentina are 5/6 favourites according to the bookies while Brazil are being offered at 10/3. The final in 2004 was won on penalties by Brazil but the way the tournament has gone so far it seems that nobody will want to go to penalties and hopefullty they will simply try to out-score one another. This, at least, ensures that both teams will be trying to win the match in normal time but with the quality and desire of these two teams it is unlikely that we will see a dull contest.

Argentina have done more througout the competition than Brazil so it seems only fair that they go into the final as favourites. With 16 goals so far, Argentina have been entertaining the crowds in each and every game and this is something which has been missing untill Alfio Basile regained control of the side. It is all set up for Argentina to win their first major title in 14 years and, incidentally, Basile was in charge then too. He has said that he is proud of his team and not just their victories but the manner of their victories. They are playing with a sense of freedom and add this to the undoubted individual quality they possess in their ranks and you are likely to come up with the 4, 5 and 6 goal thrillers they have been partial to so far.  Cambiasso has been talking this weekend and has subtly tried to shift the pressure of the favourites tag and deflect some onto Brazil. “Brazil have a great side. One can’t underestimate Brazil just because they lack Ronaldinho and Kaka. It would be disrespectful to the other players. They were called up because they have the skills and play for the best teams in the world”. A significant boost for Argentina is that Crespo, who had been enjoying something of a revival earlier in the competition before suffering an injury that supposedly ruled him out for the rest of the campaign, has been declared fit and ready to play. This poses a slight, if not comforting, headache for Basile. Does he go with the player who wasn’t able to stop scoring in the first two games or does he go for Tevez who began the tournament on the bench before forcing his way into the first team with consistent performances and teamwork? Early indications are that Tevez will play but simply having the option of Hernan Crespo on the bench will be a huge asset to Argentina. Other than this, Basile is expected to stick to the side that beat Mexico in the semi’s.

Brazil may find that the fact that they are expected to lose tonight liberating in that for the first time in the tournament they can actually play without fear. In what has been descibed as the greatest Copa America yet, Brazil have often put in economical performances. Their 1-0 win over Ecuador to ensure qualification was not one to inspire the confidence of a nation and also their defeat at the hands of Mexico painted a rather grim picture for the Brazilians  in the early stages. The disappointment of a mis-firing squad (with the exception of Robinho) was tempered in the knockout stages with a 6-1 mauling of Chile  before another efficient, if not lazy, performance against Uruguay in the semi’s where they made it through on penalties after a 2-2 draw. By schoolyard logic, Brazil are due a performance tonight. The form of Robinho is one plus that has come out of this competition. After often being dismissed as not physical enough or up to standard as Brazil’s other strikers, the little fella has shone when given space. He is so fast that he could easily pose problems for ageing defenders Ayala and Zanetti while Heinze’s undeniable ability to flatten anything that moves faster than he does could well be an issue tonight. The top scorer of this competition will be hoping to cement the golden boot tonight with the likes of Riquelme just one behind on 5. Brazil are happy to confer the tag of favourites on their rivals. Brazil coach, Dunga, has given a fair assesment of both teams: “Both teams are competitive and used to winning. Argentina are mature, a team whose men know each other well. On the other hand, the Brazilian national team was mounted now, with new athletes in search of their own space”. While thefc100 is puzzled at Dunga’s turn of phrase not having a clue what “the Brazilian national team was mounted now” is supposed to mean, we choose not to linger on the man’s inaccuracies but instead look to his team-picking abilities. Tonight it should be a fairly similar and familiar looking Brazil. Gilberto Silva is suspended and the captain’s armband is likely to go to Juan while midfielder Josue keeps his place after breaking into the team at the quarterfinal stage. Elano will replace Gilberto Silva and Vagner Love is likely to partner Robinho up front.

Tonight’s contest promises to be a cracker with the two top scoring sides aiming to prevent the other from adding another trophy to the cabinet. While Argentina deserve to be considered favourites and possess a much stronger squad, Brazil will be pressure-free and aiming to make a huge mark as the team without the big-name players. Robinho has inflicted untold damage on other teams and tonight could be the same if protection isn’t found for Ayala in particular. The loss of Silva is a huge blow for Brazil as he is thier calming influence and most experienced player. The midfield will be severely tested by Argentina and it seems a battle they could well lose. Brazil’s back four will have to play out of their collective skin to keep out the marauding attackers of Argentina. All the signs point to an Argie victory but there is something deep in thefc100’s nether regions tipping Brazil. It’s illogical, it’s irrational and to be honest, it’s bloody well irresponsible but that’s football so here we go:

Prediction: Argentina 1-2 Brazil (An early goal for Brazil, Argie’s equalise before half time and Brazil get a late winner) 

Probable lineups:

Brazil: Doni; Maicon, Alex, Juan and Gilberto; Mineiro, Josué, Júlio Baptista and Elano; Robinho and Vagner Love.

Argentina: Abbondanzieri; Javier Zanetti, Roberto Ayala, Gabriel Milito and Gabriel Heinze; Javier Mascherano, Esteban Cambiasso, Juan Sebastián Verón and Juan Román Riquelme; Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez.

Thefc100 are off down the bookies to have a flutter on Brazil at 10/3.

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  1. seba
    September 23, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Whoever made that argentina pic with the players making a wall, is a fuckin f**, ARGENTINAA!!! WTF IS CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE

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