The centenary edition of the Copa América is in the books and, just as last year, Chile are champions of South America by virtue of a penalty shootout victory over Argentina in the final.

There was plenty of talent on display, with some big names flopping, like Uruguay and Brazil exiting at the group stage, and some surprise packages, such as the USA with their run to the semi-final.

Here is our pick of the best XI of the tournament.

GK David Ospina – Colombia

David Ospina had a solid tournament with Colombia, helping his side reach the semi-final before losing 2-0 to Chile. The Arsenal stopper gets the nod for his dependability; while FC Barcelona’s Chilean goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo, made some uncharacteristic and costly errors, and Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa saw seven goals fly past him in the quarter-final, Ospina was solid throughout.

DF John Brooks – USA

The American defender overcame heavy criticism for his sub-par defending during last year’s Gold Cup tie against Jamaica, to have an impressive Copa América, as the USA defied the odds to reach the semi-final, before losing 4-0 to a Lionel Messi inspired Argentina.

DF Nicolas Otamendi – Argentina

It’s safe to say that Nicolas Otamendi had a less than impressive first season in the Premier League with Manchester City. But the bearded centre-back had a fine Copa América campaign as he formed a strong central-defensive partnership with Everton’s Ramiro Funes-Mori.

DF Gary Medel – Chile

The Chilean enforcer was the defensive general for La Roja. Despite his reputation for being somewhat of a hot-head, the 28-year-old former Cardiff City player stayed calm following Marcelo Diaz’s harsh first-half dismissal in the final against Argentina, and kept his defence in order.

MD Javier Mascherano – Argentina

Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano was faultless for Argentina, reverting back to the defensive midfield role in which he made his name before becoming a centre-back at Barça. The 32-year-old is the lynchpin of La Albiceleste’s midfield, and his influence and experience was again invaluable.

MD Ever Banega – Argentina

Ever Banega followed up a stellar season at club level, in which he guided Sevilla to Europa League success, by carrying his superb form into the Copa América with Argentina. The 27-year-old playmaker will join Internazionale next season on a free transfer, and the Nerazzurri stand to benefit from his creative midfield scheming.

MD Arturo Vidal – Chile

Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal was in fine fettle throughout the Copa América. When he’s at his best, there are few players in world football who can match his box-to-box driving energy. After being surrounded by controversy after crashing his car while allegedly under the influence of alcohol during last year’s Copa, the former Juventus player’s performances in the USA went a long way towards erasing those bad memories.

MD Clint Dempsey – USA

Clint Dempsey is the USA’s long-time talisman, and the former Fulham player was once again the key man for his country. Despite his advancing years, the 33-year-old Seattle Sounders midfielder was one of the standout players of the tournament on home soil.

RW Lionel Messi – Argentina

Lionel Messi’s tournament started a little later than most, with a minor injury meaning he was unable to start the opening two matches. That didn’t stop the 2015 Ballon d’Or winner from netting a hat-trick against Panama after coming on as a second-half substitute. Messi bagged one of the goals of the tournament with a free-kick in the semi-final against the USA. Despite his penalty miss in the final and subsequent international retirement, the five-time World Player of the Year was the shining light of this year’s Copa América.

LW Alexis Sanchez – Chile

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez was a constant threat for Chile throughout the tournament, peaking in the 7-0 defeat of Mexico and the 2-0 semi-final victory over Colombia. The former Barcelona winger also set himself apart with his tireless work-rate, leading Chile’s high-press and covering every blade of grass in the oppositions’ half of the pitch.

ST Eduardo Vargas – Chile

Hoffenheim forward Eduardo Vargas was immensely impressive in leading the line for Chile. Four goals in the 7-0 dismantling of Mexico in the quarter-final stand out as a highlight, but Vargas also netted twice against Panama and his relentless work-rate was a key factor in Chile’s potent attack.

About the author – Ryan Baldi

Ryan is a Midlands based freelance sports writer specialising in European football. He has been fascinated with the continental game ever since he was presented with his first football kit at the age of 7 years old whilst on holiday in Spain – a Barcelona shirt with ‘Romario 10’ printed on the back. A contributor to numerous footballing websites, Ryan has also covered martial arts for local and national print publications. Ryan’s musings on European football can be found here. 

twitter: @RyanBaldiEFB


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“1-0 to the Arsenal”, went the famous ditty that was regularly heard at Highbury in the mid-1990s after the Gunners had secured another narrow victory during George Graham’s tenure. It is a memorable chant, and one that fans of Internazionale may consider translating and adopting soon.

Roberto Mancini’s charges sit second in the Serie A standings after 12 games, level on points with league leaders Fiorentina. They have won seven of their encounters 1-0, and have only scored two goals in a single match once – a 2-1 triumph over newly-promoted Carpi in August. With a backline that has been breached only seven times, Inter have the best defensive record in the division, with Bayern Munich (four), Atletico Madrid (six) and Paris Saint-Germain (six) the only outfits in Europe’s five major leagues to have conceded fewer goals than the 18-time Italian champions.

That is the positive side of Inter’s start to the campaign; the negative is that they have found the back of the net on just 12 occasions, the same amount or fewer than every Serie A team side except Bologna, Udinese, Frosinone, Verona and Carpi, the teams who make up the bottom five. Indeed, while Mancini’s men have proven effective at shutting games down and keeping the opposition out at one end of the pitch, they have found it rather difficult to do significant damage at the other.

Mauro Icardi, the talented centre-forward who finished as Serie A’s joint-highest scorer last term, has not been in the best of form, but the primary reason for Inter’s lack of goals is the dearth of creativity behind the Argentine. Midfielders Fredy Guarin, Gary Medel, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Felipe Melo have plenty of qualities, but none of the quartet are particularly known for their guile or inventiveness.

As a result, the creative burden has hitherto fallen largely to summer signing Stevan Jovetic, who is usually deployed just behind Icardi in Mancini’s line-up. Wide men Adem Ljajic and Ivan Perisic are also capable of fashioning opportunities for team-mates, but the relative functionality of the midfield will be a concern for Inter fans, who are hoping that their club ends a six-season wait for the Scudetto this year.

It is in the bigger games that this issue could prove most costly. A 4-1 defeat to Fiorentina at San Siro in September was emphatic, and Juventus were a little unfortunate not to get more than a point after a 0-0 draw in October; 1-0 wins over Milan and Roma were impressive results, meanwhile, but on both occasions Inter’s opponents played as well as – or perhaps even better than – the Nerazzurri. Meetings with Napoli and Lazio before the winter break could be pivotal, with positive scorelines in those clashes giving Inter a fantastic chance of remaining at the summit at the midway point of the season.

Mancini, though, is still likely to be a little worried about the difficulties his side are encountering when it comes to creating chances. It is often said that title-winning teams are built on solid defensive units, but scoring goals at one end is just as important as keeping them out at the other.

About the Author – Greg Lea

Freelance football writer. Work published by FourFourTwo, The Guardian, World Soccer, Goal, The National, Squawka, Eurosport, The Blizzard + others.

Twitter @GregLeaFootball


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