America’s Cup results – 2021 from commentator Nikolai Saprin: how Neymar and Lionel Messi played, why Argentina won


On the eve of the Copa final, many Argentines shared on social networks a beautiful drawing that fully conveyed their general attitude towards this game. He was wearing a figure of an angel in an Argentina t-shirt with a number 10, in which the outlines were easily guessed. Diego Armando Maradona… Sitting on his knees at the edge of the cloud, he carefully peered into the abyss – where birds circled far below, the roofs of numerous nearby favelas glittered, and a little to the side, a handsome stadium majestically floated in a huge oval. There, at Maracana, Argentina had the first final in this world without Don Diego, but all Argentines firmly believed that he would find an opportunity to cheer for his team from the sky.

How did Messi change for Argentina? Was Neymar upset? Summing up the cops
How did Messi change for Argentina? Was Neymar upset? Summing up the cops

Everything for Diego

This means that it will help with its presence. And he really helped out: in the 22nd minute, the spirit of Maradona seemed to have infiltrated Rodrigo de Paul, who gave a brilliant pass for the move to Angel Di Maria, and already another, earthly angel, sent the ball to where all compatriots dreamed of seeing him – to the Brazilian Gates. From a distance, all this was very reminiscent of another great goal of Argentina to Brazil in a major tournament – the 1990 World Cup, when the incomparable dribbling of Maradona, who attracted a million Brazilians, led to a pass to the lonely Caniju, who knocked Celesao out of the tournament with his goal. Now de Paul, in a fabulous final match, and Di Maria did the same.

Few of the Argentines did not remember Maradona after the final whistle. “How happy he would be, how he would rush to the field, how important his support is for us …” The same Messi, by the way, all the time speaks of him as a living person. After returning to Buenos Aires, Leo published a lengthy post on social networks, in which, thanking his family, which always gave strength to move forward, all his friends, all the people who help the national team, and all 45 million Argentines who finally enjoyed great success. , did not forget about Maradona: “This victory is also for Diego, who undoubtedly supported us, wherever he is now” …

Embrace of the greats

For the second time in a row, it was Di Maria who brought a big title to the Argentines – 13 years ago, Angel also scored the only goal in Nigeria in the Olympic final in Beijing. But by and large, the Olympic tournament is still a competition of youth teams; otherwise, all the talk about the bad luck of Messi and his generation would be irrelevant. And so, in fact, with one stroke of the pen, Di Maria closed the gestalt for himself, for Messi – and all those who had been waiting for this big victory for 28 long years, since Argentina last won the Copa (1993).

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Messi’s eyes shone with genuine unrestrained joy when his partners threw him up into the sky; when he finally lifted the “grown-up” trophy above his head; and even more so – when he called home on his mobile, right on the field. “Shiro, look! Do you see this? ” – he shouted at the screen, showing not only the youngest, but also the rest of the kids, and his wife Antonella, the coveted gold medal. There was no happier person than Leo at that second in the entire Universe. Finally!!! Only once this evening did Messi wipe the smile from his face – when Neymar came to congratulate him, who had shed tears a minute earlier. Two great football players of our time froze for a minute in the strongest embrace, while a meter away from them the rest of the Albiseleste team, gathered in a circle, jumped, sang and danced, enjoying the victory. Where happiness begins for some, there is always a reason for grief for someone else. And this is also life …

By the way, both of them, by the way, were recognized as the best players of the tournament on the eve of the final – and this is that rare compromise, which the organizers deliberately made, because they could not break in their sympathies. It’s a shame for Neymar, because he played the final very well, playing in several positions at once: in the first half, when he often found himself in the role of a pure striker – and in the second, when he more and more often pulled back and handed out gorgeous passes, performing already familiar to the club and national team playmaker function. But his best partner on the Cop, Lucas Packeta, whom the Argentines thoroughly grabbed, was no longer so effective. Richarlison did not manage to run away (although in the second half he evened the score – albeit from an offside position) and Everton Seboligne, and then Firmino with Junior Vinicius, who came on as a substitute. Therefore, it is very difficult to blame Neymar for this defeat – he did everything he could. And yet Brazil lost, and not because Argentina jumped over its head. It’s just that Celesao herself in the final was never able to reach her usual level.

Defeat for good

A month ago, it seemed that it was simply unrealistic to defeat such a strong Brazil, especially in its lair. The same Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, before the final, at a conference call of the leaders of South America, spoke with a smile in the spirit that Alberto Fernandez (President of Argentina) is his friend, but in the final Celesao will win, without straining, 5: 0 – thereby involuntarily additionally motivating the opponent. The Argentines themselves spoke very carefully about their prospects in the tournament, but it is clear that it was not at all because of uncertainty: the team is undergoing large-scale perestroika work – and it always requires silence. Few believed in Scaloni after the appointment, and that disbelief was compounded two years ago after losing to Brazil in the semi-finals of the previous Copa.

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But during these two years it turned out that he also knows a lot about his craft. In part, this is very similar to the Argentina that was under Alejandro Sabellier at the 2014 World Cup, when they reached the final. But in some ways Skaloni has already managed to go further. The team renewed itself, stopped losing, and already at the tournament brought this streak to 21 matches – the second longest in all-Argentine history. Even in the course of the current Copa, it was felt that Albiseleste was adding from game to game and getting better, more and more sophisticated using team pressure. And this approach favorably distinguished her from Celesao, who initially, through the mouth of Tite, declared a different mode of operation – experimental, laboratory. Perhaps, for a long time, the information obtained here will be useful for Tita, but it did not bring results right here and now: second place at home is a failure.

Have you seen the America's Cup? Here's the thrill for you: a lot of emotions, Messi and Neymar
Have you seen the America’s Cup? Here’s the thrill for you: a lot of emotions, Messi and Neymar

Which, however, in Brazil, few seem to be upset. This is not a paradox – just a phenomenon of the times: after all, most of the fans (as well as the players themselves) were against such an emergency transfer of the Cop to their country at a time when Brazil is fighting the coronavirus in an unequal battle. But before the final itself, when there were more and more signals that ordinary Brazilians would support Argentina, this really caused bewilderment among many stars of the present and past. However, this defeat, I repeat, did not cause much tragedy in Brazil – rather, on the contrary. Historically, each of Celesao’s five victories at the World Cup was preceded by a series of failures at the continental level – so it would be much more alarming if everything went so well on the eve of Qatar.

All fought

On the whole, Copa America went very positively, perhaps for the absolute majority of its participants. Even for Venezuela and Bolivia, which were predictably eliminated after the group stage. But Vinotinto, even exsanguinated by the loss of a large number of her leaders due to injuries and coronavirus, still fought until the last match – and in the strongest squad, of course, she could count on more.

Surprisingly, Bolivia did not disappoint either, which, having lost all its matches, nevertheless tried to play creative combination football – and this is on the plain, where, it would seem, a priori it has few chances. The Venezuelan Cesar Farias is now working as a coach there, who actively began to oversee the youth and youth sector, connect players from there – in a couple of years, to the next Copa, such Bolivia is able to add.

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Ecuador is actively using its talented youth, which, although it did not win a single victory in the tournament, fought with everyone, even with Brazil (from which it snatched a draw) and Argentina in the quarterfinals. Paraguay looked very nice, which does not have many European stars (in fact, only Almiron), but full of strong players by Latin American standards, primarily defenders. The Peruvians, the finalists of the previous Copa, who this time reached the semifinals, confirmed their high status. Gianluca Lapadula, who showed sharpness in every match, perfectly fit into the renewing attacking line, already without Guerrero and Farfan.

There is life without James

Uruguay did not reach the design capacity, although it was gaining with every match. Most likely, Suarez, Cavani, Godin and Muslera played their last Copa – many of them have said more than once that the World Cup 2022 will be a swan song for them. But a talented change is already visible: almost the entire midfield (Bentancourt, Valverde and De La Cruz, who joined them at this tournament) is still young, and Vecino can play several more major tournaments. Plus there are talented young people in the attack, led by Facundo Torres. But the Chileans will have a hard time in the near future. For the most talented generation in history, led by Vidal, the current Copa could be the last major tournament; behind their backs and close there are no players who would have reached the level of the stars of the previous decade. Although if in the same Europe a few more players like Ben Brereton (half Chilean) are found, La Roja will become a little easier to breathe.

And, of course, a separate conversation about the Colombians. It seemed that without James, who was unhitched from the tournament by the new head coach Reinaldo Rueda, and with a pale game of the main players, he scored, Zapata and Muriel, Los Cafeteros did not much shine. But in such a situation, Rueda literally in a couple of matches shifted the emphasis to the flanks, to attacks at a second pace – and if Cuadrado on the right simply supported his brand, then Luis Diaz’s game was a real revelation. The Porto midfielder both gave and scored, often in acrobatic jumps, and earned universal recognition. It seems that now it will be extremely difficult for James with his unstable game to return to the national team.

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