The 2015 Copa América wrapped up its group stage today with a double-header of Chelsea interest with Colombia and Brazil both in action. From 12 teams (three groups of 4), 8 move on, which means that the two best third place teams in the groups also advance. Thanks to that lifeline, Colombia will live on for another day despite yet another dull, disjointed, ineffective 90 minutes, just as they managed against Venezuela in the opener.
Not even Juan Cuadrado was able to build on the win against Brazil, and instead put in his worst shift yet of the summer tournament, one which included a punch to the back of a Peruvian player and a two-footed challenge that left Zambrano in a heap though apparently, somehow, uninjured. In fairness, Cuadrado was stamped on (accidentally?) early on, but his reckless attitude mirrored much of his headless, out of control play in the attacking third as well. His best moments came when he dropped deep as a pseudo-fullback.
Colombia did start quite well — even Falcao was a danger, especially inside the area — but they were unable to turn the early promise into a goal and it slowly petered out into nothingness. James Rodriguez was probably their best player on the day, but for the second time in three games, they've failed to score. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for a strike-force led by a soon-to-be Chelsea man. Falcao was withdrawn just past the hour mark.
Despite the draw, Colombia's tournament will continue thanks to Brazil's 2-1 win over Venezuela in the night cap. The scoreline doesn't really reflect the balance of play, as Brazil seemed to cope with Neymar's absence well enough to secure top spot in the group. Early goals in both halves from Dunga's men had them on cruise control until a late strike from Nicolas Fedor threatened to make things interesting. As group winners, Brazil will face Paraguay in the quarterfinals. Colombia will have to refocus and hope for the best against Argentina (who also haven't been all that impressive).
Both Filipe Luis and Willian played the full 90 minutes, but it was the latter who was the standout star, in part thanks to this neat assist for Roberto Firmino's goal (Filipe Luis with the secondary assist). Fair warning: Ray Hudson.
Earlier in the day, England U21 slogged their way to a 1-0 win over Sweden. Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both featured, the former as a starter, the latter as a substitute making his debut at this level. Unsurprisingly, Ruben impressed.
"I think Ruben coming on at the end, he played with that freedom that maybe youth gives you. There's that innocence of youth at times. He just wants to go out and play. You could see the type of impact that he can have on a game."
-Gareth Southgate; source: Sky
Even with Chalobah in there, England's midfield has largely been a disaster through two games at the Euro U21 tournament. Perhaps it's time to give RLC a run-out from the very start.