In the early hours of Friday, Brazil booked their place in the semi-finals over the Copa America by beating Paraguay 4-3 on penalties after the clash finished goalless in normal and extra-time.
Brazil through courtesy of Jesus penalty
The first half was a scrappy affair dominated by Brazilian possession. Paraguay attempted to break the flow of the game by being highly physical in the tackle. In fact, three Paraguayan players were booked in the opening period.
The Selecao improved in the second half and thought they had a penalty kick on 58 minutes, as Fabian Balbuena fouled Roberto Firmino in the penalty area. However, after a review of the incident on the off-field monitor, the referee gave a free-kick on the edge of the area and dismissed Balbuena.
Veteran full-back Dani Alves them fired the resulting free-kick just wide of goal, which in truth was the best effort on goal up to that point of the game.
Brazil then looked as if they would take advantage of their man superiority. However, they failed to find the second goal. Everton saw two efforts blocked by Ivan Piris, while Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus missed a superb opportunity and Chelsea winger Willian hit the post.
The lack of winning goal took the game into extra-time and eventually penalty kicks. Jesus scored the winning penalty kick for the Selecao after Gustavo Gomez and Derlis Gonzalez missed for the Paraguayans.
Another unconvincing display from Brazil
In truth, the game saw Brazil produce another unconvincing display at their home tournament. The Selecao have won the Copa America every time they have hosted the competition and are still in with a chance of lifting the trophy on home soil. Tite’s side has also yet to concede a goal in the tournament in four games.
However, despite the positives and the good omens, the performance was another less than convincing one from the hosts. The first half they lacked any cutting edge at all. The second half was slightly improved.
Maybe the Selecao are missing the undoubted magic of talisman Neymar. He may have his critics, but he can be a truly special player on his day. His sheer football ability often negates his histrionics. No doubt there are very good attacking players in the squad in the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Richarlison and Everton. However, they do not have the same magic or flair of Neymar.
Brazil still favourites to win the tournament
Despite another unconvincing display, Brazil are still the clear favourites to win the Copa America. However, there are some very good teams that could easily give Tite’s side a game at the minute.
The other quarter-finals clashes see Colombia and Chile go head-to-head, Uruguay face Peru and Argentina facing Venezuela. The quarter-finals are all set up to leave four of the bigger South American teams in the last four.
It would be a big shock if Uruguay and Argentina did not make the semi-finals, while Colombia and Chile are closely matched. Whoever Brazil face in the last four, the Selecao will have to up their game to book their place in the final of the competition.
Does Brazil have enough know-how to win the Copa America 2019?