Paulo Dybala helps Argentina secure a third place finish in the Copa America

Copa America: Who Says They Don’t Care – They Really Do!

Argentina 2-1 Chile

After contesting the past two Copa America finals, this was supposed to be a bit of a comedown for Chile and Argentina.

The match no one wanted to play, some pundits told us.

How wrong they were.

Whenever these two collide, it always matters.

Highlights of the game

Lionel Messi receives a red card following a controversial call in Argentina's recent Copa America game

Referee Mario Diaz de Vivar awards a red card on both Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Chile’s Gary Medel

The Copa America 2019 betting odds pointed to another close encounter and a feisty affair.

I expected Chile to be reeling after their semi-final exit to unfancied Peru, a result few saw coming.

That feeling was enhanced when I read comments from Arturo Vidal which suggested this was one match few wanted to play.

Defeat to Peru had left coach Reinaldo Rueda having to lift his players.

Yet few nations have been forced to suffer through as much international heartache as Argentina in recent years, and after more for them at the hands of their greatest rivals in the semi-finals, did they really care too much about this match either?

The question of whether the teams would be motivated was dispelled from the first whistle.

Both sides showed a spark and despite it being an even contest, Argentina were two goals to the good inside 22 minutes.

First, Lionel Messi set up Sergio Aguero to open the scoring. Then, Giovani Lo Celso played Paulo Dybala through on goal.

Chile’s cause also wasn’t helped by the loss of Alexis Sanchez with a hamstring injury.

The main talking point was still to come as Messi and Chile counterpart Gary Medel were both shown red cards for an incident 11 minutes before the break.

Chile’s captain had shepherded out a ball near his own goal when Messi challenged him from behind. Medel reacted angrily, pushing the Argentinian and raising his hands.

The Paraguayan referee, Mario Díaz de Vivar, showed Medel a red card and although Messi did not react, he was also sent off, prompting boos at Arena Corinthians.

It was a poor decision from the referee, who branded seven yellow cards in a match that was broken up with 37 fouls.

Argentina’s lead was reduced just before the hour when Arturo Vidal converted a penalty after a foul by German Pezzella. It was Chile’s first attempted shot and Vidal’s first goal against La Albiceleste.

That wasn’t enough, though, as Argentina held onto secure third place.

In many ways, Copa America 2019 news records will tell us that Chile can take more pride from their achievements over the past month than their opponents.

Firstly, this is not the Chile of old; it’s an ageing squad which contains no fewer than six players with more than 100 caps.

Secondly, before winning their first ever Copa America crown in 2015 – a triumph they repeated 12 months later – La Roja had only made it this far in one of the previous eight tournaments, stretching back 24 years.

So clearly, recent glories should not obscure the fact that reaching the semi-finals is still a notable achievement for Chile.

Overall, not too many SBOBET followers will feel the same about Argentina.

However, this was their chance for a modicum of revenge and to try and finish the tournament – they will jointly host the 2020 edition – on a bit of an upbeat note.

Key statistics

This was only the second red card of Messi’s career. The first came on his international debut for Argentina against Hungary in 2005.

This was Dybala’s second goal for Argentina and the first one in competitive games; it was his 24th cap for his national team (13th excluding friendlies).

In the last six Copa America tournaments there have only been two games with two red cards in the first half, and both were meetings between Argentina and Chile: Marcelo Díaz and Marcos Rojo in the 2016 final; Messi &Medel today.

Argentina have won 60 of their 89 meetings against Chile in all competitions (draw 23, lost six).

Argentina lost the only previous time they played in a third-place play-off in a Copa America tournament; they were beaten 2-1 by Colombia in 1987.

This was the first third-place play-off between two teams that have faced each other in a Copa America final.

Chile and Argentina lost their semi-final games against Peru and Brazil, respectively, despite having attempted 10 shots more than their opponents (Chile 19-9 Peru; Argentina 14-4 Brazil).

Chile have made it through to the Copa America semi-finals for the third tournament in a row (2015, 2016 and 2019); they had reached this stage only once before (1999) with the current competition format (since 1993).

This was only the second time in the past seven tournaments Argentina have not contested the final. They have finished runners-up on four of those occasions.

What’s next?

That completes a long season for players on both sides.

Ironically, their next international meeting will be against each other A friendly is scheduled for Los Angeles on September 5 with Argentina also due to play Mexico while Stateside five days later and then Germany in October – again in a friendly.

 

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