The 2019 Copa America is over. Brazil has won the title for the first time since 2007 after defeating Peru 3-1. Now it's time to recap the last tournament before we start to count down for the next Copa America.
The Tournament's Level
Despite being very promising at first, this Copa America will be remembered as one of the worst. It's not only a low number of goals, but the football level also wasn't good as well. Maybe it was the players' fatigue from the long season with their clubs, perhaps it was the horrible pitches or maybe the VAR, but in the end, this tournament was a big disappointment. The quarter final phase was the worst when Argentina was the only team out of eight to score. It was the first time in any tournament that three out of four matches in the quarter-final ended in a 0-0 draw. The format of the competition also broke a negative record when Paraguay, who played badly, was the first national team ever to qualify to the knockout stage after achieving only two points.
Where Are The Stars?
We already mentioned that the players came exhausted, but we had another unusual phenomenon this year. Unlike other tournaments, this time we didn't have a player who left his mark on 2019 Copa America. No player was the leader of his team, and even the top scorers of the tournament were Everton from Brazil and Paolo Guerrero from Peru, both scored only three goals, the lowest number since 1983.
There was only one player that should be mentioned, and it is Dani Alves. Brazil's 36-year-old right-back won the 40th title in his career. In such a tournament with no real superstar, Alves was awarded the MVP title of the Copa America and may give some throwback to the good old days of Cafu in the 2002 World Cup.
The Uncertain Future of Argentina
Despite finishing third, it was one of the weakest performances of the Albiceleste in the Copa America. It was Lionel Messi in his weakest ever international tournament, an average squad and an inexperienced coach with wrong decisions.
What will the fans take from this tournament? Mostly the public criticism of Messi against the CONMEBOL for corruption and how they helped Brazil to win the title. Messi wasn't wrong in his criticism, as Argentina may feel deprived of this semifinal. Still, it looks very convenient for the players to blame the referees, the VAR, and the whole world but themselves.
The future is uncertain for the upcoming 2020 Copa America, which Argentina will host alongside Colombia. Lionel Scaloni will probably not continue at the head coach, but it isn’t clear who will replace him. Also, part of the squad would be left behind, because they are not good enough. The only good news may be the partnership of Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala, which finally starts to improve.
The Dark Horses of the Tournament
Two teams had surprising campaigns in the Copa America.
The first and the obvious is Peru. Under Ricardo Gareca, the team looks great, and it's not a coincidence. After reaching the 2015 Copa America semifinal and qualifying to the World Cup for the first time after 36 years, Peru made another step forward. They reached the Copa America final for the first time since 1975. Unlike their group stage match against Brazil, this time Peru fought hard, but still couldn't handle the opponents. Now Gareca will want to keep his good work by taking the Blanquirroja to the 2022 World Cup.
Another surprising team was Qatar. Not many believed that they could play as equals with strong South American teams. But Qatar, the proud Asian champions, deserves a lot of respect for playing decently against opponents such as Paraguay, Argentina and Colombia. They only took one point, but the way they played was impressive. Next year they will play again in the Copa America, and it will be interesting to see what would be their next step before 2022 World Cup.
Don't Trust VAR
After using the VAR for the first time in Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana, the CONMEBOL decided to use it in the Copa America. Unlike the World Cup a year ago, this time the VAR usage was catastrophic. Instead of helping the referee, it made a huge mess. It got worse when the fans in the stadiums or watch the matches on TV couldn't know why the game is stopped, while decisions sometimes took too much time to be called.
Although referees made the correct decisions eventually, the chaos was caused by a lack of consistency. It looked like the referees and their assistants don't understand how to use it and when they should be involved. For example, in the semifinal between Brazil and Argentina, the referee didn't use the VAR to discuss possible penalties, while in the final the referee used the VAR to approve two clear calls for penalties.
Brazil and CONMEBOL Failing Organization
It was Brazil's third host of a major competition in the past 5 years. Despite the fact the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 were a huge success, the Copa America was exactly the opposite and maybe because the CONMEBOL organized it.
The number of fans in the stadiums was very disappointing. In most of the matches the attendance was low, and even the host team couldn't fill the stadiums. One of the main reasons was the expensive tickets, which were the highest ever in the Copa America. Most of the local people couldn't afford to buy tickets for the match, and the seats were left empty. There was also the anger of the Brazilians against the government that decided to spend money on hosting a tournament again.
Another thing that demonstrates the bad organization was the horrible pitches. Coaches and players complained about the stadiums and how it affected the playing style. With so many technical players, playing on such terrible pitches, this has decreased the quality of the tournament. CONMEBOL had to find a solution for that, and they didn't.