Former Crawley Town midfielder Sergio Torres knows a thing or two about big Cup competitions, having played for the Red Devils in their famous FA Cup run, which ended in a narrow defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford.
To the proud Argentinian, nothing is bigger than the Copa América, South America’s equivalent of the European Championship, which reaches the quarter-final stage tonight…
After watching nearly all of the Copa América group games, I came to a conclusion that there is no one team that has stood out to justify favouritism.
Argentina was the big favourite before the tournament, because of their power and creativity in attack, but they have so far failed to produce the finishing touch that we see those players doing week-in, week-out for their respective clubs.
As a proud Argentinian it pains me that La Albiceleste have not won a major tournament since 1993, when we last landed the Copa América. Yet when you look at the 12 teams involved, there should be only one winner, with firepower like Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero.
We won the group and that was the main objective before the tournament started. We played some great football in patches, but have so far failed to capitalise on the chances created.
Gonzalo Higuain scored when starting on Saturday, but I am a big Carlos Tevez fan. One of the main reasons I moved to Peterborough United from Wycombe Wanderers was because they had already arranged a pre-season game against Manchester United, and the thought of playing with Tevez on the same pitch made me accept the contract and sign for them (I guess Matt Tubbs had the same effect on me when I signed for Crawley!).
I did play against Carlos and it was fantastic. Naturally, we spoke to each other on the pitch and afterwards he promised to send me his shirt, but I’m a bit annoyed with him because he never did, despite texting each other a few times since.
I would like to see Carlos have more minutes on the pitch. When he came on against Jamaica, he showed the passion that makes him adored by Argentinian fans. They love his determination and commitment – he has a great attitude, wears the shirt with pride and always gives 100%.
We expect, with the quality of that squad, that Argentina can score few more goals.
Coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino mentioned that he is worried, because we cannot kill the games off, and he is hoping for a better reaction on Friday night when we play Colombia in the quarter-finals.
Another giant, Brazil, have failed to show the class their players normally show for their domestic teams. I think their manager, Dunga, has to take some responsibility because since he took over we have seen some changes in their style of play.
This “new” Brazil has changed from its historic style. They used to entertain every game – it didn’t matter if they won or lost – they were always the team dominating with the ball at their feet and the players always wanted to have the ball. They call it “Jogo Bonito”, a style crafted by players like Zico, Socrates and Pele, then carried on by the likes of Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Romario, and Bebeto.
At present, Neymar is one of their few players that fits the way Brazil always used to play. He is very attack-minded, so skilful, and people love watching him because he entertains. Now with his ban (he misses the rest of the Copa America), it will make it difficult for Brazil to win this Copa America.
Chile is looking very strong and they will have a great chance to get to the final. Their fans are very vocal and their manager, Jorge Sampaoli – one of six Argentine coaches in charge of the 12-teams at this Copa – wants them to play in a certain way: He wants people to want to watch them.
La Roja showed their potential in their last group game, beating Bolivia 5-0.
Who would I pick for the final? Initially, I felt it would be Argentina v Colombia, but that is not possible now. If Chile can beat Uruguay, they may well reach the final, as they have the winner of Bolivia/Peru in the semi. Argentina, if overcoming Colombia, get the winner of Brazil/Paraguay in the other semi. It’s all up for grabs. I just hope Tevez, Messi and company can start to show their true class when it matters.
See more of Sergio Torres’s exclusive Copa America blog at MYCLUBBETTING.COM, Official Broadcast Sponsors with Premier Sports TV.
Catch the games on Sky channel 428, Virgin 551, TalkTalk 526 and in HD via the Premier Player online.
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