Copa America 2019: Brazil v Argentina, Player Ratings
Rivalries do not run deeper in South American football than between Brazil and Argentina. Square these battle-hardened foes against each other at the summit of the continent’s most coveted competition and one has a classic on their hands. Brazil’s 2-0 Copa America semi-final victory over Argentina lived up to the mammoth standards set by this duel’s longstanding history, in a typically feisty, end-to-end clash.
Courtesy of goals from Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino, the Selecao booked a place in the final on home soil.
In the 19th minute, Dani Alves’ fleet-footedness was for all to see as he left Marcos Acuna and Leandro Paredes in the dust, setting it up for Firmino who laid a perfect pass on for Jesus to open the scoring from close quarters.
The Man City No.9 returned the favor when he went on a darting run past Nicolas Otamendi and shimmied past Juan Foyth for Firmino to tap-in and push Brazil over the line.
The Albiceleste were unlucky not to equalize after Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi hit the post, however, Tite’s impenetrable backline had a perfect evening. On any other day, perhaps Scaloni’s men could even have toppled Brazil on the balance of the chances created.
Another trophy evades Messi’s pursuit of glory in national colors.
The Samba Boys held firm and have the prospect of lifting the trophy at the glorious Maracana.
Alisson Becker- 6.5/10
Brazil’s man in between the sticks has had his fair share of demanding evenings and this was far from being one of them. Despite Argentina’s barrage of shots, Alisson was only called into action from a Messi freekick which he not only saved, but clasped firmly.
The Liverpool No.1 was brilliant on the ball as per standard procedure and his distribution was alert and pin-point throughout the tie. He set the ball rolling to many of Brazil’s attacks with his inch-perfect throws.
Alisson continues his fine record of conceding no goals in the competition so far.
Dani Alves- 8.5/10
Dani Alves is the embodiment of the phrase, “age is just a number” as the Selecao skipper shows no signs of stopping in arguably football’s most taxing position at 36 years old.
Alves was at his very best tonight, bombing forward with aplomb, however, it was in the 19th minute where he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck by showcasing both sides to his game.
The former Barcelona defender outmuscled Lautaro Martinez to win the ball upfront before dinking it over Acuna and flooring Paredes, finding Firmino who assisted Jesus’s opener.
With 5 take-ons and 3 tackles under his belt, Alves once again taught a lesson on finesse and fight which are the ingredients needed to become the complete full-back. To be so domineering in a contest of the highest proportions is yet another feather in the cap of the veteran.
The Paris Saint-Germain captain proved vital in what was a supremely resolute defensive display from the Brazilians.
Due to being on the backfoot, Scaloni’s side responded in perfect fashion by constantly testing the hosts’ back four throughout the night.
While Silva and his compatriots could count their stars lucky as the post came to their rescue on two occasions, the leader of their defence showed the persistent value of old-school defending, clearing the ball out of the danger zone and using his physicality against Argentina’s stocky strikers.
He was very hands-on with his instructions, constantly barking out orders and marshalling his defence well.
Much like his PSG teammate, Marquinhos dug deep to ensure his nation went over the line tonight. The 25-year old did spray passes effectively and neatly use the ball as he usually does, however, he had to stray away from his natural game due to the hustle and bustle in and around the six-yard box.
With another cleansheet to his name along with Silva, the rock-solid Brazilian backline has the prospect of finishing invincible all tournament long.
Alex Sandro- 6.5/10
It was clear from the get-go that Tite had instructed Alex Sandro to be more conservative against Argentina, especially considering the burgeoning partnership between De Paul and Messi on the right-hand side.
The Juventus left-back did just that and was barely under any threat on his flank. Positionally aware at all times, credit must be given to Sandro for not allowing the possibility of getting beaten as well.
His strengths lie when he raids upfront and hugs the touchline, however a more pragmatic approach to his performance will make him Tite’s go-to-man with the final on the horizon.
Casemiro came up clutch, putting in yet another imperious display in a game that demanded all of the soldiers on show to rise. Real Madrid’s midfield dynamo won several balls in their air, caused problems all night for Messi, in particular to pull strings and kickstarted Brazil’s counter-attacks on many instances.
While Argentina looked like imposing a threat from set-piece situations, Casemiro safeguarded his defence by always being at the right place at the right time to keep the ball out of the danger area.
At this point, a Casemiro masterclass has become the norm.
The Barcelona midfielder was tidy in possession and wriggled through tight situations with his impeccable close control and neat footwork. Arthur was certainly impactful in pushing Brazil forward in the first 45, however he was definitely a quieter presence as the second-half begun.
Everton Soares- 5.5/10
Everton has been a crowd favorite for obvious reasons and he has been a revelation for Brazil in this tournament. However, the Gremio winger was simply isolated tonight and failed to have an impact on proceedings.
Perhaps Everton could have grown into the contest in the second-half, however, Tite was having none of it as he replaced him with Willian as the first 45 drew to a close.
Coutinho was not at his brilliant best this evening, despite certain moments of magic from the Barcelona forward. He could not control proceedings as he has done all tournament and will be expecting to put a rare off day in the past as he approaches the final.
Gabriel Jesus- 9/10 (Man of the Match)
Nicolas Tagliafico’s initially horror show was down to only one man: Gabriel Jesus. The Sky Blues star, deployed out wide left the Ajax left-back for dead on several occasions in what turned out to be a complete mismatch, with the referee drawing a yellow-card for the Argentinian defender early on in the tie.
Fresh off the back of his heroic penalty to seal the quarter-final victory against Paraguay, Jesus netted the ball from close quarters to open his account. However, it was his assist for Firmino that truly set the clash alight.
After the ball fortuitously ricochet off Jesus as he dribbled past Paredes, he went on a lung-busting 71-yard sprint, with teammate Otamendi chasing him when he dropped a shoulder, flooring Foyth and set up a tap-in for Firmino. It was a moment of sheer class and athleticism from one of the world’s best young attackers.
As per usual, he also tracked back massively and contributed defensively in what was the definition of a big-game performance.
Roberto Firmino- 8/10
Firmino’s fine Copa America continued as he put in a pinpoint cross for Jesus to finish. The Liverpool frontman was a busy presence, dropping deep to pick up the ball and constantly linking play.
His graft was rewarded as he tapped-in a sensational Jesus assist to put the tie beyond Argentina and enter the final with his head held high.
The Chelsea winger was not much of an upgrade on Everton and struggled to get into the mix of things.
Solid, if not spectacular when he was brought on to replace the injured Marquinhos.
He did not have enough time to have an impact on the match.
Franco Armani- 6/10
Argentina’s No.1 was not at fault for any of Brazil’s goals as the hosts were simply clinical, scoring 2 out of the 4 shots they registered.
He did not have a busy evening, but it became ultimately one to forget.
Juan Foyth- 7/10
Juan Foyth had quite a mixed evening. He was guilty of trying to dribble out of situations and losing the ball initially, however, he eventually grew into the encounter and was astute defensively.
The Tottenham defender was constantly thwarting attackers in one-on-one situations and progressing the ball forward, showing signs of his versatility by blossoming in his new role as a right-back.
Eventually, he did stumble as he bizarrely took time to track back after Jesus chested the ball past him and was made to tumble as he could not handle the former Palmeiras striker’s quick feet.
This led to Firmino’s strike and marred the tie for Foyth.
German Pezzella- 5/10
German Pezzella did not have his greatest of evenings, costing his side with some schoolboy defending in the 17th minute.
With Jesus standing inside the box, Pezzella ran off to the back post to leave him unmarked and score with ease.
It was a shocking piece of positional awareness and it pegged back Argentina for no rhyme or reason.
Nicolas Otamendi- 6.5/10
Nicolas Otamendi was certainly the superior of the two center-backs, with his tackling and top-level experience coming to the fore.
However, his Manchester City teammate, Jesus made a mockery out of him as Otamendi was on his heels before trying to push him inside the box and falling to the floor in a comedy of errors.
Jesus wheeled away in celebration while Otamendi flattered to deceive in national colors yet again.
Nicolas Tagliafico- 5/10
Bursting on the European scene as one of the most promising left-backs this campaign for Ajax, Nicolas Tagliafico’s reputation was far from the reality this evening as he endured a monstrosity of a game.
Jesus constantly had him on toast, dancing past him thrice in the initial quarter of the tie and eventually, the referee had no choice but to book him. If the magnitude of the occasion was not as sizeable, Tagliafico would be shown the marching orders in the first half itself.
All in all, it was a disastrous evening for Tagliafico, squaring up against a true gem of a forward in Gabriel Jesus.
Leandro Paredes- 5.5/10
The PSG midfield anchor was bog-standard throughout the clash. Paredes was floored by Alves for the first-goal and later on, Jesus darted past him which led to Firmino’s strike.
There is no denying that Paredes is a top-drawer midfielder, but Brazil made him look like an amateur at points.
He did, however come close to scoring an absolute screamer from 54 yards out. Still, not Paredes’ best day in an Argentina shirt.
Rodrigo De Paul- 6/10
Rodrigo De Paul has starred for the Albiceleste in the competition since his inclusion, however, he showed none of his tireless running and class on the ball tonight.
De Paul failed to link play with Messi and he was surprisingly not even trying to bomb down the flanks. He simply did the basics and hid into the background, shying away from the size of the occasion itself.
Marcos Acuna- 5.5/10
It is a mystery to see why the in-form Giovani Lo Celso has been dropped in favor of Marcos Acuna, especially after the Real Betis man’s breakthrough season and goal in the quarter-final.
Acuna was an anonymous figure throughout the tie and he contributed no attacking impetus for the team to push forward. To further worsen things, he lost his head and got into a brawl with Alves, earning a yellow card.
Lionel Messi- 6.5/10
International silverware has once again proven to be well and truly beyond Lionel Messi’s glittering talents as Argentina have fallen to the sword at a big stage once again.
While no one can fault Messi for a lack of effort as he showcased moments of magic and muscle, winning the ball back and dribbling past sets of defenders. His freekick almost set the ball rolling for Argentina, however Aguero’s header hit the post and Scaloni’s men were immensely unfortunate after a spirited comeback after going one down. In the second-half, he even hit the post and it looked inevitable that he would pull something special out of the bag.
However, it was not to be after his freekick was saved by Alisson without even breaking a sweat and Messi looked like a defeated man as a boisterous Brazil side showed no cracks in their structure.
Lautaro Martinez- 7/10
Lautaro Martinez is perhaps one of Argentina’s biggest positives from the tournament as he looks like he is capable of leading the line for them for years to come. The striker was constantly linking play with his teammates, dropping deep to become more involved in the build-up play and used his physicality to bounce defenders off of him.
In a tie which was so end-to-end, Martinez did not let the lack of service affect his game and, on another evening, he could have been on the scoresheet.
Sergio Aguero- 6.5/10
Sergio Aguero was not at his fluid best this evening, but that was certainly not due to a lack of effort. The Man City stalwart was trying to make things happen by dropping into his team’s defensive half, picking up the ball and kicking Argentina’s attack into gear.
He even hit the post from a header, courtesy of a Messi freekick in the first-half. However, he was simply not at his best and due to Argentina’s lack of cohesion combined with Brazil’s sublime defensive display, Aguero could not impact proceedings.
Angel Di Maria- 5.5
The PSG man was surprisingly sloppy on the ball and squandered his opportunity to change the game from the bench.
Giovani Lo Celso- N/A
Lo Celso did not have the time to settle into the contest and cause problems.
Paulo Dybala- N/A
It is a pity that Argentina’s brightest hope for years to come got merely 7 minutes to make a statement. Dybala’s poor treatment is an indictment to Lionel Scaloni’s absurd selection choices.
It was no surprise at all that the Juventus forward could not change the fate of the tie.