On July 7th, we got to witness an exciting clash between Brazil vs Peru, who met in the finals of Copa America at Maracanã. In the end, it was the hosts who lifted the Copa America trophy, proving for the 9th time in history, they are the strongest South American team.
The 2019 Copa America campaign for the hosts went relatively smooth, as they managed to come out of the group stage unharmed with a perfect 3-0-0 score and 3 clean sheets. Brazil managed to carry the momentum to the playoffs, where they took down Paraguay (1:0) and Argentina (2:0) to secure their spot in the finals. Peru on the other side was a team no one expected to reach the finals. Unfortunately for them, their campaign started off in group A with Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia. Still, Peru managed to grab 1 win and 1 draw, which was more than enough to get themselves into the playoffs. Following their rather lucky win against Uruguay (1:0) in quarter-finals, Peru crushed Chile in semi-finals (3:0) to secure a spot in the finals for the first time since 1975, when Los Incas won the whole thing.
Entering the finals as heavy underdogs, Peru were determined to prove their worth and upset the hosts, however, it was soon clear that will be much easier said than done. Only 15 minutes in, Peru conceded their 1st goal at the hands of Everton who received an incredible inside pass, which found him alone in front of the goal. After conceding the first goal Peru seemingly woke up and started performing better. Unlike the first match between the two sides when they met in the group stage, Peru seemed a lot more composed as they managed to stop Brazilian advances and keep the score at 1:0. Their hard work paid off in the 45th minute when Peru got awarded a penalty, which was converted into a goal. Just as it seemed like Peru will enter the 2nd half tied with Brazil, Jesus broke through Peruvian defence and scored a goal in the 45’+2 to regain a 1 goal lead for his team.
Unlike the first half, the 2nd half was not as entertaining. Peru did not push as hard as we expected, and it all looked like they were hoping for a miracle opportunity to appear for them to score a goal. The gods have seemingly heard them, in a way. In 70th minute Gabriel Jesus received his 2nd yellow card, leaving Brazil with only 10 men to defend the 1 goal margin. A great opportunity for Peru sadly did not realize itself as Los Incas failed to utilize a man advantage and instead of scoring a goal conceded for the 3rd time in the 90th minute, when Carlos Zambrano made a terrible mistake, which gifted Brazil a penalty.
While considered a heavy underdog, Peru did perform well throughout the tournament. The fact that they only managed to defeat Brazil 4 times in 44 occasions does make it seem like Peru did not have a realistic chance to win the finals to start off. Nonetheless, the chances were there, Peru just did not take them. All in all, Peru can be a bit disappointed by their performance on the big stage. They were impressive in the first half, however, the same cannot be said for the 2nd half, when they lost concentration and let Brazil dictate the pace of the match. Additionally, they let go of a huge opportunity which was given to them in the 70th minute when Brazil was left with 10 men. However, they can at least be happy they reached the finals after 44 years and were the only team in Copa America that managed to score a goal against Brazil.
Brazil on the other side entered the tournament as a favourite with a lot to prove. With rather disappointing performances in the recent tournaments alongside the fact that Brazil national team failed to play a reasonable amount of matches ahead of the tournament, created a disconnect between the fans and players. The only way they could fix the relationship with the fans was the Copa America trophy, which we could say fuelled the Selecao throughout the tournament. Does the impressive performance from Brazil in Copa America point towards a bright future for 5-times World Champion is anyone’s guess, however, we can all agree their 9th Copa America title will go down as one of the most memorable moments in Brazilian football history.