Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 11th 2015 Contents A60
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 11, 2015
SANTIAGO---Lionel Messi and Ney-
mar aren t used to being upstaged.
It could happen as the Copa America
---the South American championship
---begins its 3 1/2-week run today in
the wake of the FIFA corruption scan-
dal that forced President Sepp Blatter
to announce his resignation.
Many of the corruption allegations
have centered on the governing body
of South American football. Its former
president, Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay,
was one of 14 people indicted by the
US Department of Justice two weeks
ago on charges of bribery, racketeering
Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay, who
succeeded Leoz, was among seven FIFA
officials arrested in Zurich.
Messi and Argentina teammates Javier
Mascherano and Carlos Tevez have trav-
eled half way around the world from
the Champions League final in Berlin,
along with Brazil striker Neymar and
Chile players Arturo Vidal and Claudio
They ll need to put on a show to
claim back the main stage. But they are
sure to be jet-lagged while tending to
unfinished business from last year s
The major absence is Luis Suarez of
Uruguay, who is ineligible and still serv-
ing a ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini at
the World Cup.
The main story lines will revolve
around Argentina and Brazil. Argentina,
the loser in last year s World Cup final
against Germany, hasn t won a major
trophy in 22 years. The last was the
Brazil s 7-1 battering by Germany in
the World Cup semifinals will never be
forgotten, but it could be softened by
winning in Chile.
Colombia and Chile may have their
best teams in a generation. Even without
Suarez, defending champion Uruguay
is a factor.
Play opens Thursday with Chile play-
ing Ecuador in Santiago. Argentina plays
Saturday against Paraguay, and Brazil
faces Peru on Sunday in its opener. The
final is July 4.
No country in the world has more
talented forwards than Argentina: Messi,
Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero
and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
And no player is under more pressure
than Messi, who was born in Argentina
but has lived much of his life in Spain.
He has yet to bring Argentina a team
title, the way Diego Maradona did, or
the way Pele did for Brazil.
Messi is fresh from Barcelona s 3-1
victory over Juventus in the Champions
League final. He s at his peak now, and
will be 31 at the next World Cup in
Russia in 2018. So many see this as his
"We have arrived at a special moment
in our careers," Messi wrote in the official
magazine of the Argentine Football
Association. "We came to the World
Cup and barely missed out on glory.
This gives us a push and makes us
strong for what s coming up. This is
not about revenge. We just want this
team to be remembered and be able to
leave our country well respected."
BRAZIL'S DAMAGED IMAGE
Brazil coach Dunga and many in the
country believe the loss to Germany
was a freak result.
"What happened in the World Cup
was something isolated," Dunga said.
"Everyone talks about the need to get
back respect, but Brazilian football is
still admired everywhere, the Brazilian
jersey is still being coveted a lot."
Dunga has won all nine of his matches
since taking over the national team after
the World Cup, with Brazil set to face
Honduras on Wednesday in its last
friendly before the Copa America.
Brazil has not placed as much impor-
tance on the tournament as it rivals. It
has won eight times compared to 15 for
Uruguay and 14 for Argentina.
Colombia has James Rodriguez and
Radamel Falcao, who missed last year s
World Cup with a knee injury.
"We have very good forwards in their
prime," Colombia coach Jose Pekerman
said, one of six Argentines coaching in
Remember, Colombia nearly upset
Brazil in last year s World Cup quar-
terfinals, losing 2-1.
Another Argentine coach is Jorge
Sampaoli, who has a so-called "Golden
Generation" with Chile led by Alexis
Sanchez, Vidal and Bravo.
"Were living through a generation of
fantastic football player," Sampaoli said.
Chile also went out narrowly against
Brazil, losing 3-2 on penalties after a
1-1 draw in the round of 16.
It may not be obvious, but the Copa
America might be nearly as difficult to
win as the World Cup.
The favorites are Chile, Colombia,
Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. All five
reached the final 16 of the World Cup
in Brazil. Mexico, which plays with
Jamaica as one of two guest teams, also
reached the last 16, although Mexico is
fielding a weakened team in Chile.
Of those six, Brazil, Colombia and
Argentina reached the quarterfinals.
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino,
who recently replaced Alejandro Sabella,
has been critical of the scheduling by
UEFA, saying the governing body of
European soccer ignored the tight
schedule and the start of the Copa
"It could have been avoided," Martino
said, "to protect the football players so
they can play in all the events they
deserve to play in."
Messi, Neymar try
not to be upstaged
at Copa America
controls the ball
during a training
session in Porto
Alegre, Brazil, on
Brazil was to face
yesterday in a
preparation for the
Copa America which
begins today in
Chile. AP PHOTO
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