In the initial stages of the competition, as Argentina and Brazil looked anything but title contenders, Group C came as a breath of fresh air. It boasted of two teams, which could be considered as favorites for the title – Uruguay, after what they had achieved in the World Cup 2010, and Chile, who arguably had their most gifted team in years.
Chile, under Claudio Borghi, got off to a winning start against Mexico, then drew against the World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay, before defeating Peru in injury-time to win the group. Uruguay, on the other hand, started slowly, with some of their key players not in form. However, they were just good enough to draw their first two games, and then won against Mexico to set-up a mouth-watering quarter-final clash against continental rival Argentina. Peru, with one win and a draw, has also qualified for the next stage as the third team, while Mexico was never really expected to cause any major upsets in the group.
Sanchez and Borghi – Two key men for Chile
Chile has been the best team in the championship thus far – the forwards have attacked at breakneck pace, the defense has held its ground, and the midfield has ably assisted both the offence and the defense. While, Uruguay will have to defend better if they are to get past Argentina and reach the semi-finals.
Top Goal Scorers
|Paolo Guerrero (Peru)||2|
|Álvaro Pereira (Uruguay)||2|
|Arturo Vidal (Chile)||1|
|Alexis Sanchéz (Chile)||1|
|Esteban Paredes (Chile)||1|
|Luis Suárez (Uruguay)||1|
|André Carrillo (Peru)||1|
|Néstor Araujo (Mexico)||1|
Goal Of The Round – Álvaro Pereira against Chile
Pereira has only one man to thank for scoring the best goal in Group C – Luis Suarez. The Liverpool striker once did it to Man United last season, and this time although the opponents, stage and beneficiary were different, the manner in which defenders were beaten was very similar. The skillful forward exhibited remarkable close ball control and vision to maneuver past as many as three defenders in the Chile box, before finding Pereira for an easiest of tap ins.
Substitute Of The Round – Jorge Valdivia (Chile)
In South America, Valdivia, who presently plays for Brazilian club Palmeiras, is regarded as an exceptionally talented playmaker, even though he could never make it big in Europe. Despite having a tumultuous career, he was selected for the tournament by Borghi as a second choice playmaker, behind Fernández. An injury to Fernández in Chile’s first game has come as a blessing in disguise for Jorge Valdivia, who has come on as a second half substitute to galvanize Chile’s attacks against Uruguay and Peru. He has played deeper in midfield and has sprayed immaculate passes to the forwards – Sanchez and Suazo.
Flop Of The Round – Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
A good showing in South Africa, 2010, and a spectacular season for Napoli, in which he scored 26 league goals in 35 games, had raised his stock significantly. In a three-pronged attack, along with Suarez and Forlan, Cavani has thus far failed to light the South American championship with his presence.
Most Unsporting Gesture In The Round – Giancarlo Carmona (Peru) Jean Beausejour (Chile)
As both teams were through to the next round, Peru and Chile rested quite a few players for their match. A victory here was important nonetheless, as the winner of the this game would have topped the group, thereby avoiding Argentina in the quarter-finals. With the game tied at 0-0, Claudio Borghi, the coach of Chile, brought on Alexis Sanchez in the 57th minute to provide the missing spark, and he did just that. Right from his introduction, Sanchez proved too hot for Peru to handle and was maliciously brought down by Christian Ramos. The situation got out of hand, and the referee hand to sent off Carmona and Beausejour to end the altercation and resume the match.
Goal Keeper Of The Round – Fernando Muslera (Uruguay)
The young shot-stopper, who plies his trade at Lazio, has conceded two goals in the tournament thus far. Against Peru, he was let down by Mauricio Victorino and Diego Lugano, who abysmally failed at playing a high offside line, allowing Paolo Guerrero to receive a pass, which should never have reached him, and then calmly hit the back of the net. The goalkeeper was in fine form against Chile, as he made some crucial saves, after Sanchez had equalised, to earn a point for his country. He ended the group stage with a clean-sheet against Mexico in the last game.
Forward Of The Round – Luis Suarez (Uruguay)
Suarez – Uruguay’s most potent weapon
Luis Suarez has been in fine form for Uruguay. With Cavani yet to rediscover his Napoli form and Forlan, although playing well, misfiring, a lot depended on Suarez, and he hasn’t disappointed thus far. His goal earned a draw for his team against Peru, while his trickery had given Uruguay a lead against Chile. If La Celeste are to prevail over rivals Argentina in the quarter-finals, Suarez may well have to play out of his skin.
Midfielder Of The Round – Arturo Vidal (Chile)
In addition to the skill and speed of their attackers, Vidal’s performances in a box-to-box midfield role have added to the aura of this Chile team. Vidal has been very dependable, and full of energy. His thumping header against Mexico ensured that Chile got off to a winning start in the competition. In addition to being the lifeline of the Chilean midfield, he also slotted seamlessly in defense against Uruguay, to cater to the team’s requirement. The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder will have to continue in similar fashion if Chile are to stand any chance of finally winning the Copa America.
Miss Of The Round – Diego Forlan against Mexico
To be fair, Diego Forlán, Luis Suárez and Alvaro González were all extremely wasteful in front of goal in the last match of Group C against Mexico. However, Forlán once missed the target from 10-yards out with only the keeper to beat and then failed to slot the ball into an open net on another occasion, to bag this rather unwanted award.
TheHardTackle’s Team Of The Round
Goalkeeper: Fernando Muslera (Uruguay)
Defenders: Martín Cáceres (Uruguay), Gonzalo Jara (Chile), Nestor Araujo (Mexico), Mauricio Isla (Chile)
Midfielders: Jorge Valdivia (Chile), Arturo Vidal (Chile), Álvaro Pereira (Uruguay)
Forwards: Alexis Sanchez (Chile), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), Paolo Guerrero (Peru)
Manager: Claudio Borghi (Chile)