My take on the Opening Match of COPA America

World Cup 2018 is so far away, but thankfully there are plenty of competition to keep me going until it’s time to countdown again. COPA America, established in 1916 is the world’s oldest football competition and one of the most prestigious and widely viewed sporting event! And it’s on NOW!

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To watch the televised coverage in the USA, you need to subscribe to the BeInSport channel (I just added it for the month on FiOS for $10.) It is NOT being covered by ESPN.

Last night was the first opening match, played by host nation Chile and Ecuador. Although Chile won 2:0, it was anything but an easy win. In fact, until the 67th minute, Chile had already failed to capitalize on a few “close calls” while Ecuador proved to not be underestimated. But Chile’s luck changes when Bolanos of Ecuador unnecessarily, albeit softly, tugs Vidal’s shirt IN THE PENALTY BOX! Vidal of course goes down, as I’m pretty sure all players would and the penalty is granted by the referee. It is a controversial penalty only if you think of all the times far worse fouls have been made in the FIFA World Cup and penalties were not given. Oh wait, FIFA just turned out to an organized mafia where countries/teams/everyone and their mothers were paid off to win/lose/be still. I digress.

Back to the penalty given to Chile…was the tug something substantial? No. Was it dumb to do it in the box? Absolutely yes. Was Chile favored? Eh… only way to really answer that is to see if the same call would’ve been made if the tables were turned. My guess: Yes. I think the referee had decided that if you pull in the box, you’re going to give up a penalty. But what am I really basing that on? My hunch and just the overall way in which the match was refereed. Many are saying it was a favoritism because Chile was the home team…I don’t know if I necessarily agree but I can see why some would see it that way. 

Once Chile got a taste of that goal, a second goal was more likely. In fact, it is the second goal by Vargas, beautifully assisted by Alexis Sanchez that was the true play of the match. That came at the 84th minute, by which point Ecuador was quite exhausted to really try to stay in the match.

Now for the other piece of drama on the field, Matias Fernandez. Booked for a dive soon after being substituted on and then a late tackle on Paredes resulted in a second yellow and subsequent red card, therefore suspension from the next match. It’s really silly to get suspended on the first match. But then again, if you’re going to get a red, I guess you might as well get it early on at the group stages. 

Chile won tonight, which is what I wanted. It’s always a warm feeling when a team wins the opening match on their home soil, but not sure that will be enough for Chile to progress into the knockout stages. They need to learn how to finish off all the close calls. Can’t win the cup with almost goals. 

So excited for futbol season to have begun. Cant wait for tonight’s match! Mexico vs. Bolivia. My vote’s with Mexico though I’ll be keeping an eye on Bolivia to see if they are going to be the underdogs of the competition. 

Happy COPA AMERICA watching fellow futbol-ers! 

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