Copa America and lessons from Uruguay's defeat

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
Published 02.07.2019 00:10

Uruguay's unexpected exit from the Copa America quarterfinals was one of the most surprising results of the tournament. The team was expected to reach the semifinals against Peru, but the game ended 0-0 after 90 minutes and Luis Suarez's miss in the penalties sent Uruguay on holiday earlier than expected. Although they scored two goals, the referee nullified them and Oscar Tabarez's team could not produce more opportunities to score against a purely defensive Peru. Thus, just like in the World Cup last year, Uruguay got eliminated by their lack of strategies in a possession game.

As you may know, Uruguay is known for their quick counterattacks and brilliant transition game. Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez are able to reach the opponent's penalty box in mere seconds when they have enough time and space. Added to that, their defensive strategy is so solid that it is almost impossible to score against Uruguay when they play defensively. So the main premise for Uruguay's efficiency is to play against an attacking opponent, so they can intercept the ball on defense and play it directly to their forwards.

However, this plan failed Uruguay against France last year in the World Cup and Peru this year in the Copa America. Both France and Peru were aware of the lethal counterattacks of Uruguay so they allowed them to play with the ball. Without a proper possession strategy, Uruguay could not stretch their opponents' defenses enough to create time and space for Cavani and Suarez. They panicked and tried to play directly while their opponents' defenses were not out of balance. Then, they ended up not scoring in both of those quarterfinals.

This one-sidedness is widespread in the Copa America and there is not a single team which can play the both sides of the game properly. For instance Brazil is the complete opposite of Uruguay, marvelous in the possession game and offense, but they leave lots of time and space to their opponent on defense. One might claim that offensive one-sidedness could be better for the audience, but it is certainly worse for a team. Almost all great teams today, Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and et cetera play both sides of the game equally well.

Copa America does not lack talent; teams are full of great players with limitless individual talent. Nonetheless the games they play are not talented, and that makes the games Copa America less attractive. Like Turkish football, the tournament is following the latest achievements in football 10 years back. If the new world wants to win more trophies in the World Cup and produce more successful teams, they should focus on having a talented game rather than talented players.

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