Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Tue 17 July 2007

Adios Venezuela: Copa America 2007 Final Review

Copa America 2007 is finally over. The Final gave us one last surprise (if surprise it be) as Brazil convincingly beat Argentina 3-0 to win the trophy for the eighth time.

Despite now winning three of the previous four tournaments, Brazil didn't enter the Final as favourites on this occasion. Some muted performances early on, including a defeat at the hands of Mexico, meant that the smart money went on Argentina.

The Albicelestes began their campaign with the sort of confident, skilful football that caught the eye at the start of the 2006 World Cup. They were the only team to win all three of their first round games in the 2007 Copa America and having qualified for the Final they could claim sixteen goals scored and only three conceded.

With players like Riquelme, Tevez, Crespo and Mascherano all on top form, Argentina looked set to win the trophy for the first time since 1993. Sadly the similarities with their 2006 World Cup campaign remained evident right to the end as their strong start ended all too soon.

Julio Baptista gave Brazil the best of starts after just four minutes when he collected Elano's long ball down the right and smashed in a fine shot past Argentinean goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri.

Argentina almost equalised straight after that when Riquelme saw a left-foot strike come back off the near post but a few minutes later Doni in the Brazilian goal had to palm away a curling Riquelme shot to deny the Boca Juniors front man again.

But the game finally swung fully in Brazil's favour five minutes before half time when Ayala stretched out a leg to block a cross from Alves on the right wing and ended up poking the ball past the stranded Abbondanzieri into his own net.

The second half saw a depleted-looking Argentina lacking a little conviction in their attacking play and what did amount to any serious challenges on goal were easily dealt with by the Brazilian defence.

As Argentina opened up more and more in search of a first goal, so Brazil reverted more and more to counter-attacking play and this proved effective when Vagner Love slipped a ball through to Alves on the right side of the penalty area to make it 3-0.

And so it was that Brazil triumphed once again, proving that a slow start is not necessarily a bad thing - so long as you can build on it throughout the rest of the competition. As the old Dorothy Fields song goes, 'it's not where you start, it's where you finish' and as any fan of the Spanish national team at the World Cup will testify, success is nothing unless you can make it happen in the Final.

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