The Copa America has finally kicked off in Brazil after the original two hosts, Colombia and Argentina, had the tournament moved from them due to COVID issues.
Making it the fourth time in the past 10 years that Brazil has hosted a major sporting tournament.

Brazil opened the tournament against Venezuela as they look to win back to back Copa Americas as the presumptive favorites. Argentina will always be seen as contenders with their magician Lionel Messi while both Chile and Uruguay have strong teams that could make them contenders.

Colombia could also be a surprise contender with a strong defense featuring Davidson Sanchez of Tottenham and Juan Cuadrado of Juventus making up that backline.

Brazil vs Venezuela

To open this anticipated tournament, Brazil would take on Venezuela as both teams had different expectations and routes to the tournament. Brazil entered the tournament as the presumptive favorite with a strong team made up of stars in both Europe and South America. Venezuela is looking for a chance to make noise but has had their team decimated by COVID, with many players missing out in the past week due to COVID.

From the opening whistle, Brazil just poured pressure and shots onto Venezuela as the Venezuelans threw everybody they had to block the Brazilians. Marquinhos would get the opening goal off a corner to put Brazil ahead, but Brazil would have a goal called back soon after. Venezuela was surely happy to enter the half down only 1-0 after the chances Brazil had.

The second half would be more of the same, with Brazil pouring chance after chance with both Neymar and Richarlson missing clear-cut chances. Venezuela would have some good opportunities but were content to sit back and defend. Eventually, Brazil wore down Venezuela and was able to put two more past them with goals from Neymar and Gabriel Brabosa ending the match 3-0.

Brazil will play Peru on Thursday as they look to continue their fine form and announce themselves as favorites. Venezuela will play Colombia as they look to at least grab something positive from this tournament on Thursday.

Colombia vs Ecuador

Following the opener between Brazil and Venezuela, Colombia took on Ecuador to continue to play in their group. Columbia came into this tournament looking to win it, but Ecuador does pose a good threat and can make the knockout stages thanks to the format. The format for this Copa America is two groups of five with four teams in each group making the knockout stages.

The first half got underway as both teams began to feel for the weaknesses of the other and began to trade attacks. Not much of note would be produced in the first half until the cusp of halftime as Colombia got a free kick right outside the 18-yard box. In one of the best set-piece plays of the year, a few Colombian players combined to assist Edwin Cardona on his goal as Colombia took the lead.

The second half would open with Ecuador getting some great chances in attack as they pinned Colombia back. However, this was where Colombia’s experience came through as they could withstand the attacks and counter when they could. This resulted in Colombia getting some good chances, especially through Duzan Zapata, as they would clinch the win.

Colombia will play Venezuela on Thursday as they look to finish top of the group despite this substandard performance against Ecuador. In contrast, Ecuador will play against Venezuela next Sunday as they look to secure a place in the knockout stages.

Original co-host Argentina kicked off their campaign and group play in Brazil after having the tournament rescinded due to COVID-related issues in the country. With Argentina taking part in the match of the day against Chile, a great rematch of the Copa America finals past. These two teams have played each other in the finals or third-place match in the past three editions of the tournament.

The second game of the day would be between Bolivia and Paraguay. They continue the play in Group B, leaving only one team in group B that has yet to play and that team being contenders Uruguay. They will play on Friday against Argentina as both teams try to cement themselves amongst the favorites of the tournament.

Argentina vs Chile

In a rematch of Copa America finals from the past decade, Argentina and Chile were supposed to kick off the tournament in Argentina, but now they meet in Brazil for the first game of their group. Argentina comes to the Copa with the same goal that they’ve had for the past 15 years, win the tournament for Messi at all costs. Chile looks to continue their fine form at the past three Copa Americas to manage both their veterans and young players.

Photo: Getty Images/Buda Mendes

The first half would be an exciting match with both teams playing a physical game that resulted in good chances for both teams. However, stepping up for the occasion with a free-kick right outside the 18-yard box, Lionel Messi would thread an inch-perfect ball to the far side of the goal out of Chilean keeper Claudio Bravo. Argentina would get some more chances towards the end, but Chile remained thoroughly in the game.

Starting with a bang, the second half would have a penalty called in favor of Chile, with Arturo Vidal missing the penalty and Eduardo Vargas scoring the rebound amidst chaos in the area. Both sides would continue to search for the winner as they threw their defensive schemes in the air. Ultimately the game would end in a draw, but the game was very entertaining and lived up to expectations.

Argentina will play on Friday against Uruguay as Messi will play against his old teammate Luis Suárez as both teams look to be contenders for the trophy. Chile will play Bolivia on Friday as both teams contend for a place in the knockout stages.

Bolivia vs Paraguay

Bolivia and Paraguay would end the day’s Copa America action with both teams eager to make waves at this tournament with even more chances to reach the knockout stages. Bolivia, who hasn’t made the knockout stages since 2015, looks to combine experience and youth talent to achieve a great feat for their country. Paraguay is in a good position to reach the knockout stages with a good and experienced team featuring former Atlanta United and now Newcastle United star Miguel Almirón.

From the start, it would be Bolivia that would look to take control of the game with the script being flipped on its head. At the fifth minute mark, a handball would yield a penalty to Bolivia, and it would be Erwin Saavedra that would step up and convert the penalty giving Bolivia the lead. However, late in added time, Jaume Cuéllar would get his second yellow for a late challenge leaving the leading Bolivians one man down for the rest of the game.

Following the half, Paraguay up a player would feel free to go all out and attack at every chance peppering the Bolivian keeper. This would all culminate in an incredible volley by Alejandro Romero, which could rival Messi’s goal as the best of the tournament. Paraguay would add two more goals through Ángel Romero winning the match 3-1.

Bolivia will next play Chile on Friday as they look to keep their hopes of making it out of the group alive. Paraguay will have a bit of a break and next play Argentina on Monday as they look to secure their place in the next stage.

Featured Image: Getty Images/Buda Mendes
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