By Walter Broeckx
With not much Arsenal football on these days one has to take what one can get. So I decided to have a look at the final of the Copa America. Chile versus Argentina. Alexis versus Messi.
Well I sure didn’t regret staying up late for this.
Chile started the best and had the first chances. An impressive Vidal saw his half footed volley stopped by the Argentina keeper. Then a free kick from Messi was headed in by Aguero but Bravo made a brave save on the line.
Not many chances but both teams playing with a lot of heart and passion and as a result a few yellow cards came out. Some a bit harsh, others where a card would have been better were let go by the ref. A ref who clearly tried to keep the church in the middle as we say in my mother language. Meaning the ref tried to give the impression of being impartial.
Right at the end of the first half a chance for Argentina but the shot was straight at the keeper so no goals.
Immediately after the restart Alexis won the ball in a dangerous position but Vidal couldn’t place his header wide from the keeper’s hands. Messi couldn’t really influence the game in open play; Chile players swarming around him from the moment he got the ball. Chile did go for the win but didn’t get a lot of chances. But Argentina also not really carving out much chances.
In the final minutes of the normal time Chile, going for it, got caught on the counter. Messi gave it to the left and Banega crossed it to the second post where (Arsenal target…. no thanks) couldn’t put the ball in the net. A let off for Chile and a big blow for Higuan and Argentina.
Extra time it was and with lots of stops for players needing treatment with cramps. Alexis working hard and at the end of the first half of extra time he got away when Macherano missed the ball. But his shot went over…just. Maybe a cut back could have been the better option but hey it is so easy from my seat in front of the TV.
Chile really kept on playing with their heart in the second period of extra time and they really didn’t deserve to lose the match as the underdogs who really worked amazinly to win their first copa America in their own country.
No goals in extra time. Penalties would decide the outcome.
Chile took the first and scored. A thunder shot, unstoppable. Messi then and he also shot the ball well in the corner but low this time.A second Chile player scored his penalty. Time for (Arsenal target… no thanks) Higuan and I don’t know which direction the ball went but I think it flew out of the stadium. Vidal (another Arsenal target …. wouldn’t mind him to be honest) scored. Romero got a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.
Banega then for Argentina and this time Bravo stopped the effort low to his left. This meant that if Chile scored their next penalty they would win the Copa America for the first time. What a weight must have been on the smallest player on the pitch who stepped up to the penalty spot…our own Alexis Sanchez.
But what he did was just amazing. Nobody ever would dare to take a Panenka penalty again at such a stage. Unless you are called Alexis of course. He just waited for Romero to dive to his left and rolled the ball in the goal. I do admit that I cheared out loud for Alexis. He clearly was overfilled with joy (very understandable of course) and the whole Chilean team and the whole nation I can imagine went crazy.
Chile isn’t the best team in South America. But they surely have the biggest fighting heart from all of them. A few top players like Alexis and Vidal and a few very talented and hard working players.
So of course it will be a great moment for Alexis and it is great for him. And a rather strange similarity for Alexis and Özil. Özil left Real Madrid, lost out on the CL but won the FA cup and then went on to beat Messi in the final of the world cup. Alexis left Barcelona, lost out on the CL but won the FA cup and then went on to beat Messi in the final of the Copa America.
A final word on the crowd in the stands. I have never heard so much noise coming from the Chile supporters before today. They were amazing and sang the whole 120 minutes and some more. Simply amazing.
So not Arsenal playing as a club but with Alexis we had an important person involved and at least when they are involved in such tournaments the best we can have is that they win and are successful.
I can imagine it will have been a long night in Santiago and the whole of Chile.
Well done Alexis, now take a good short rest and then come back to The Arsenal.
Anniveary of the day
5 July 2013: In a move that surprised a few, Francis Coquelin, having signed a long
term contract went to Freiburg on a season long loan. He played just 16 times for the club and had difficulties with the manager, before returning in June 2014.
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