Alexis’ Injury, Ospina’s Clean Sheet and Copa America so Far
First of all, I would like to express my disappointment in not watching as many Copa America games as I would have liked. Due to the obvious difference in the time zones, most of the games are played around midnight here in Nigeria and when you think of the fact that you have to prepare for work from 5.30am, you’d know that watching these folks play wouldn’t be worth it, except you’re some cyborg in a human’s body.
From an Arsenal perspective, my focus and the focuses of many Gooners out there, would be the performances and well being of Alexis Sanchez and David Ospina.
While Ospina has been busy conceding a goal that was similar to the one against Swansea and more recently, keeping a clean sheet against Brazil, Arsenal has been on the news, with rumors of a potential move for Chelsea’s Petr Cech. I was quite disappointed to see Ospina concede that goal against Venezuela because I felt that he could have done better. Despite taking the jersey from Wojciech Szczesny in January, Ospina has had some good moments and of course, some rather shaky ones, and he has brought some mixed feelings to the fans.
However, when he and his Colombia side took to the pitch against Brazil, they knew at the back of their minds that a defeat would have seen them crash out of the tournament and a goal from Jeison Murillo was enough to keep Colombia’s hopes of qualifying alive. Brazil had the lion’s share of the possession (61%) and even attempted nine shots with just two on target but Ospina had to keep his concentration levels in check to make a point-blank save from Neymar.
Colombia’s last match comes up against Peru and you’d expect Falcao and co. to come up with the goods against the Peruvians to book a place in the knockout stages.
Elsewhere, Sanchez and his Chileans compatriots couldn’t build on their win over Ecuador as they shared the spoils with Mexico in a feisty battle. The game had a cagey outlook from the start but the game sprang to life when Mexico made their counter attacking numbers count with Juan Carlos Medina squaring Matias Vuoso that scored Mexico’s opening goal of the tournament. Vuoso had not scored for his country in six years, so the relief on his face was there for everyone to see. Chile responded immediately when Charles Aranguiz lofted a cross that was headed home by Arturo Vidal.
Mexico took the lead when Jimenez connected with Adrian Aldrete’s corner kick to guide the ball into the net but Chile equalized just before half time as Eduardo Vargas headed Vidal’s cross home to send the home crowd into raptures. Vidal was odds on to score his second goal of the night when he received a peach of a pass from Alexis but he was scythed down by Gerardo Flores to earn himself a penalty. The Juventus man dusted himself up and smashed in his third of the competition to give his nation the lead.
Jorge Valdivia thought he had done enough to extend Chile’s lead but the offside flag on Vidal spared Mexico’s blushes. Chile was made to rue that missed opportunity when Vuoso again latched onto Aldrete’s pass to make it 3 – 3. Alexis thought that he’d be the hero of the night when he side-footed Mauricio Isla’s cross home but the assistant referee’s flag ruled out the chance for Chile to gain their stronghold of the group. I’m sure the manager, Jorge Sampaoli, and his players would be aggrieved to have two chances ruled out but hey, that’s football.
Ospina has Peru to play while Sanchez would be hoping to play against Bolivia but it seems as if the Chilean hotshot would miss the crucial game because it has been reported that he’s suffering from some ‘muscle fatigue’. Yes, Alexis plays like a beast from Krypton but it seems as if he’s actually human after all. With Chile locked at four points with Bolivia, they’d want to at least avoid defeat because if Mexico wins Ecuador and Bolivia wins Chile, the host nation could be eliminated.
The tournament has lived up to its billing so far, even though I haven’t been fortunate enough to watch every game (I have to make do with highlights most times). The overall play has been very technical, as you would expect from South American teams and the goals, boy, have been top notch – most of them at least, with my pick of the bunch being Nelson Haedo Valdez’ super strike against Argentina.
The Group Stages are reaching their conclusion and things would get a bit spicier in the knockout stages.
Let’s just hope that Ospina and Sanchez would do their bit to remain fit.
They have lives after Copa America, you know. Arsenal lives.
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