Brazil back on top after 12-year wait
Having won all four editions of the Copa America they had previously hosted, history suggested Brazil would be the team to beat this time around. And so it transpired, with Tite’s men crowned continental champions on Sunday after beating Peru 3-1 in the final at the Maracana.
Goals from Everton and Gabriel Jesus, and a late Richarlison penalty, sent the home fans into raptures as they celebrated the country’s ninth Copa title and first since 2007. Victory moved them one step closer to Uruguay (15) and Argentina (14) in terms of most continental titles.
FIFA.com reviews the main talking points from Brazil 2019, which illustrated the state of the continent’s sides ahead of next year’s South American qualifying tournament for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™.
The winner: Brazil
Playing in front of their home fans, Brazil justified their pre-tournament tag of favourites, this despite being without the talismanic Neymar. With wing-back Dani Alves assisting wonderfully in attack and Gabriel Jesus sublime up front, where he produced moments of brilliance at key moments, the hosts simply had too much for their regional rivals. In Everton, they also had an incisive and dangerous weapon on the left, while their defence was rock solid, saving the team at difficult moments. So effective in fact was the rear-guard that the only goal conceded in six games was Paolo Guerrero’s penalty in the final.
Ricardo Gareca’s men came into the tournament with some question marks hanging over them, not least the suggestion that they had regressed after Russia 2018 in terms of their play and finishing. But as the tournament went on, they went from strength to strength, eventually reaching their first Copa final since 1975. After losing 5-0 to the hosts at the group stage and only reaching the knockout phase as one of the best third-placed sides, they then eliminated a strong Uruguay side on penalties in the quarters – with Pedro Gallese the standout figure – and then double defending champions Chile in the semis, in what was their best performance of the tournament. In the decider, they even created problems for Brazil, confirming they have every reason to be optimistic about the future.
Third place: Argentina
La Albiceleste began their campaign with a defeat to Colombia and a draw with Paraguay and looked like a team in danger of an early exit. However, things improved after that and they finished on a high by taking home the bronze medal thanks to the leadership of Lionel Messi, the goals of Sergio Aguero and the contribution of newcomers like forward Lautaro Martinez and midfielder Rodrigo de Paul. Wins over Qatar and Venezuela, as well as an acceptable showing against Brazil in the semis, were probably enough to keep Lionel Scaloni at the helm – at least until the end of the year.
With his three goals, Paolo Guerrero has now netted 14 times at the Copa America, making him one of the top five scorers in the tournament’s history. Leading that particular ranking are Argentinian Norberto ‘Tucho’ Mendez and Brazilian Zizinho (17), followed by Peruvian Teodoro Fernandez and Uruguayan Severino Varela (15).
🏆 Player of the tournament: Dani Alves 🇧🇷
⚽️ Leading goalscorer: Everton (3 goals) 🇧🇷
🧤 Best goalkeeper: Alisson Becker 🇧🇷
🤝 Fair Play award: Brazil 🇧🇷