Fallen giants look to 2014 as Uruguay land Copa

2011-07-25 07:29

Buenos Aires – The kindest thing fans could say about Argentina and Brazil after this year’s Copa America ended in a 3-0 romp for Uruguay in the final against Paraguay would be that both South American giants remain a work in progress.

A little fine-tuning and smoothing a few rough edges and a sleek new model will be revealed at the 2014 World Cup, the true “holy grail” for both countries, so the theory goes, while the Uruguayans bask in the glory of a record 15th title.

In practice, life is not so simple, as Mano Menezes, coach of 2014 hosts Brazil, knows only too well after a tournament where the giants were cut down to size and where Venezuela, the continent’s only team never to reach a World Cup, reached the semis for the first time.

“I think we’re on the right track. I have said throughout the goal is to be competitive for 2014,” insisted Menezes, who can expect to be in the dugout in three years’ time – which is more than can be said for Argentinian counterpart Sergio Batista.

Batista today faced a vote of confidence from his Federation amid speculation he will be fired after his team’s Copa exit in the quarter-finals to the Uruguayans on penalties.

‘False number nine’
A major chief criticism levelled at Batista is that he is not sure of his best line-up.
He rejects that.

“I am sure of my footballing ideas. I always said the Copa was all about getting ready for the World Cup in 2014.

“I am absolutely resolved to keep going.”

Most media agree he won’t get the chance after he insisted on starting with Carlos Tevez in attack with Lionel Messi in a “false number nine” role.

That backfired in laboured draws with Bolivia and Colombia and Messi only sparked when dropping back to feed Tevez replacement Sergio Aguero in a much better showing against little Costa Rica.

Tevez sneaked back as a substitute against Uruguay and promptly missed the crucial spotkick that sent the hosts out, wrecking their bid to land a 15th Copa of their own and prolonging a trophyless run stretching back to 1993.

In vain did Batista protest that penalties are a lottery anyway.

Brazil amply proved as much, managing to convert zero kicks in their quarter-final loss to a Paraguay side which found it impossible to win or lose, drawing all their group games – after first letting the Brazilians off the hook, then allowing Venezuela to recover from 3-1 down.

After denying Menezes’s side a hattrick of wins in the competition following 2004 and 2007 wins over Argentina, the Paraguayans were at it again as they walked a tightrope against Cesar Farias’ impressive Venezuelans.

The former minnows hit the woodwork three times and had a goal ruled out but again the Paraguayans were too good from the spot.

So to the Uruguayans, who can be proud of their achievement in landing their record success and a first major trophy since 1995.

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