Copa América: Colombia plays, Brazil wins | America’s Soccer Cup 2021


Brazil players celebrate Casemiro's goal against Colombia.
Brazil players celebrate Casemiro’s goal against Colombia.ANTONIO LACERDA / EFE

Colombia despaired of Brazil and, when it least expected it, it despaired in Rio de Janeiro. Everything seemed to go perfectly for Reinaldo Rueda’s team. He had the score and the game in his favor, after the Chilean goal by Luis Díaz. Brazil had the ball, but it did not scare goalkeeper Ospina. Neither Neymar’s shot to the post altered the Colombian defense. Instead, the referee did. Neymar tried a front cross, but the ball hit the referee, which gave continuity to the game because the ball was in the hands of Brazil. Lodi found Firmino and the nine Liverpool scored the 1-1. The Colombians were perplexed. They understood that, according to the regulations, the Argentine referee Pitana, was obliged to stop the game after interfering in the play. The VAR did not interpret it that way and Colombia was no longer Colombia. Bad business against Brazil. Casemiro sang 2-1 and the Canarinha goes to victory per game in the Copa América.

From walk to walk, Brazil thrashed in the debut against Venezuela (3-0) and was even more forceful against Peru (4-0). Not even the decimated Vinotinto was an option for the CanarinhaNor did the team of Ricardo Gareca, the last finalist in America, bother him. Colombia invited us to think that, finally, the Canarinha he found himself with a rival of weight, a hard bone, fierce and physical, dangerous with spaces. The selection of Reinaldo Rueda did not disappoint. The coach’s plan was to first deactivate the Brazilian attack, and then bet on the speed of Cuadrado and Luis Díaz on the wings. And so it happened.

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Still undergoing reconstruction, Colombia is sometimes fierce, sometimes shy, never as reliable as against Brazil. In fact, Rueda opted for Santos Borré instead of Muriel to stall the construction of the Brazil game in the midfield. The River forward, less glamorous than Atalanta’s, is undoubtedly more hard-working. And if Muriel was a spare wheel for the steering wheels; Cuadrado and Díaz did the same with the sides. Colombians multiplied while Brazilians despaired. It turned out, however, that the Colombian wingers not only became obsessed with running behind Éverton Ribeiro and Richarlison, they also had plenty of air to challenge Alex Sandro and Danilo.

And then, when Brazil was betting on Colombia to sleep, Díaz woke them up. The Porto winger drew a perfect Chilean to make Cuadrado’s strong and precise center shine even more. Colombia did not slacken. From the outset, there are chips that the Brazilian coach does not move: Danilo, Fred, Gabriel Jesús and Neymar take the field. The rest changes. If even the goal has no owner: in the Copa América, under the crossbar of the Canarinha Alisson (Venezuela), Ederson (Peru) and Weverton (Colombia) passed. Tite’s bet doesn’t go wrong.

Accustomed to tactical ups and downs, when Brazil was lost against the Colombian wall, Tite looked at the bench. And he found the solution. After passing through the changing rooms, Firmino appeared to give continuity to the game of the Canarinha. And so he did. Neymar shone with a filtered pass, but the PSG forward’s shot crashed into the post. And he avenged his teammate with a header, which had the complicity of Ospina, to sign the 1-1. The scream, however, almost choked Firmino. He was saved by the VAR. The controversy alienated Colombia from the party. Rueda’s team’s concentration and play turned to anxiety and bewilderment. Brazil was not going to waste it. When the duel ended, Neymar’s corner kick found only Casemiro in the area. And Brazil followed Brazil. Three games, three wins and a place in the quarterfinals in his pocket.

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