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Copa America 2021 - Best U-23 XI of the competition

Brazil v Argentina: Final - Copa America Brazil 2021
Brazil v Argentina: Final - Copa America Brazil 2021
Sharan Pillai
ANALYST

Copa America is one of the most important football tournaments in the world. The competition, where the best of the CONMEBOL confederation lock horns, always delivers beyond expectations.

While fans around the globe often focus on the experienced stars in the tournament, there is no doubt that a lot is expected from the future of their team, the young guns.

It is always a joy watching the youngsters play for their national sides. The excitement, the anticipation, the hunger to prove themselves brings out the best in these individuals. As for the fans, they can always keep an eye out for the next superstar of their country.

Copa America 2021 proved to be a platform for a lot of youngsters to shine. On the basis of their performance in the Copa America 2021, let's take a look at the best U-23 XI of the tournament.

We are following the standard 4-3-3 formation.


Goalkeeper: Wuilker Faríñez (Venezuela)

Venezuelan goalkeeper Wuilker Faríñez had a game to remember in his side's second group stage game against a strong Colombian side in Copa America 2021.

Wuilker Faríñez made eight saves vs Colombia
Wuilker Faríñez made eight saves vs Colombia

The game ended in a goalless draw and Wuilker Faríñez deserves all the credit. Colombia bossed the game throughout the 90 minutes. They dominated the possession (65%) and had a massive 23 shot attempts to Venezuela's two.

Colombia had eight shots on target which were parried away to safety by the Venezuelan shot-stopper. He guarded the goal post incredibly and none of the saves he made were easy.

The 23-year-old also played the role of sweeper-keeper whenever the situation demanded it.


Left-Back: Renan Lodi (Brazil)

The Atletico Madrid wing-back was an integral part of Brazilian coach Tite's plans. The 23-year-old's pace and long-passing abilities were heavily utilized by the Canarinho.

Renan Lodi's high work rate proved effective for Brazil.
Renan Lodi's high work rate proved effective for Brazil.

Renan Lodi's best performance came against Ecuador, where he ended up with the highest work rate in the game. Lodi could be seen running up and down the left flank to aid his team in attack as well as defense.

Lodi was also able to do the same in Brazil's semifinal match against Peru in Copa America 2021. The low-scoring game saw Brazil win 1-0 and Renan Lodi had a crucial role to play in it.

After taking the lead via Lucas Paqueta's goal in the 35th minute, Renan Lodi registered the next attempt. A fine cross from Everton found the 23-year old's head, who sent it a little off target.


Center-back: Cristian Romero (Argentina)

Cristian Romero is one of the few players who has created an impact despite not playing too many games in Copa America 2021.

Cristian Romero linked up well with Otamendi to guard Argentina's goal
Cristian Romero linked up well with Otamendi to guard Argentina's goal

Playing alongside the highly experienced Nicholas Otamendi is demanding. Especially for a youngster like Cristian Romero whose previous international experience consists of just two World Cup qualifier games.

From the three games he played for Albiceleste, Romero had a passing accuracy close to 90%. His strong aerial abilities came in handy for Messi and Co. on numerous occasions in the tournament.

The 23-year-old's best performance came against Paraguay where he was successful in stopping multiple Paraguayan attacks.


Center-back: Éder Militão (Brazil)

The Copa America 2021 runners-up were capable of boasting massive squad depth. They had many options for a certain position and Tite didn't hesitate to use them as per the situation.

Militao scored his only Copa America 2021 goal vs Ecuador.
Militao scored his only Copa America 2021 goal vs Ecuador.

The Brazilian head coach kept shuffling his squad and formations and his plans often worked in Brazil's favor. Éder Militão is one such name that came to his coach's aid as and when the situation demanded him.

He started during Brazil's Copa America opener against Venezuela in the place of their skipper Thiago Silva. Militão had a decent 90 minutes and helped maintain a clean sheet. In their second game, Militão replaced the in-form Marquinhos to achieve another clean-sheet.

His only goal in Copa America came in a 1-1 draw against Ecuador.


Right-back: Nahuel Molina (Argentina)

The last defender to join our list is Argentina's Nahuel Molina. The Argentine number 26 is a versatile player and was a key element of Lionel Scaloni's tactics. He is a natural right midfielder who switched his role to a formidable right-back throughout Copa America 2021.

Molina earned a clean sheet in every match that he played.
Molina earned a clean sheet in every match that he played.

Argentina never conceded a goal while Nahuel Molina was on the field. He played against Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador and Colombia. Argentina kept clean sheets against all the teams mentioned except Colombia. However, they did manage to score only after Molina was subbed off.

Argentina checked all the boxes during their journey to lift the cup and Molina delivered more than what was expected of him.

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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