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Brazil trusted its defence even more than Neymar to keep its Copa America title. It was a move that failed.
Argentina’s 1-0 victory at the Maracana Stadium on Saturday (Sunday in IST) proved that the Selecao’s defensive prowess was not as strong as its players and coach have shown. Now coach Tite will have to rethink some of his alternatives, as he promised to use Copa America as a testing ground ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.
Argentina’s winner came in the 22nd minute after Rodrigo de Paul made a long pass to Angel di Maria. The 33-year-old seasoned forward made the most of poor defending by left-back Renan Lodi to take control and chip it over goalkeeper Ederson. Brazil had conceded only two goals in the tournament before the final. But Di Maria knew that Lodi could possibly be beaten.
“Before the match, I told de Paul that the left-back slept a little in the marking,” the Argentinian forward said after the match. Brazil’s most frequent starter in the position, Alex Sandro, was recovering from injury.
But it wasn’t only Lodi who made mistakes in Brazil’s defence against Argentina. Veteran Thiago Silva and midfielder Casemiro, two of the steadiest players of the team, gave Argentina opportunities in the second half, some of them unforced errors.
Silva acknowledged Brazil was under par. “It was not the Brazil team it usually is in the first minutes. When you concede in a match like this, it is hard to come back,” he said.
“In the second half, it was only one team trying to play, the other was just stopping the match. But we can’t use excuses, we couldn’t play our game in the first half.”
Right-back Danilo and midfielder Fred, both starters at the Maracana, did not make clear mistakes in the final, but neither supported Brazil up front. Neymar was isolated for most of the match.
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