RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Many Brazilian players did not want to participate in the Copa America tournament. Look at them now.
La Seleçao advanced to the final with a 1-0 victory over Peru on Monday. Soon after, their star said he hoped to see their big rivals on Saturday at Maracana Stadium.
“I want Argentina in the final,” Neymar said after the game at the Nilton Santos stadium in Rio de Janeiro. “I encourage them because I have a lot of friends there. In the final, Brazil will win,” he added, laughing. .
Argentina and Colombia will play the other semi-final on Tuesday. Only Lionel Messi’s side can match Brazil’s campaign so far with five wins in six Copa America games.
Neymar made the difference on the bumpy ground at Rio de Janeiro’s Nilton Santos Stadium. The only goal of the game came in the 34th minute after cheating defender Alexander Callens on the left edge of the box and helping Lucas Paquetá, who has just pushed the ball into the net.
Paquetá, 23, who started the tournament on the bench, was one of Brazil’s best players. He constantly received the ball in the middle, relieving the pressure on Neymar, and also scored with intensity.
Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was one of the best in the game despite his team’s elimination. He made two tough short-distance saves in the 18th minute, one by Neymar and the other by Richarlison, which could have given Brazil the victory earlier.
Brazil looked like they could score anytime they wanted against Peru, a side that the Selecao had beaten 4-0 in the group stage of the tournament. But the second half was very different, with Gianluca Lapadula forcing goalkeeper Ederson to make a key 49th-minute save after a cross. Brazil still had opportunities, but continued to waste counterattacks.
“This (the game against Peru) is exhausting us not only physically, but also mentally,” said Brazil coach Tite. “In these Copa America matches we are playing a mental marathon.”
Brazil will seek their 10th title in the South American Championship in their ninth final in the last 14 editions of the tournament. He was moved to Brazil after Argentina and Colombia withdrew from his co-accommodation over COVID-19 concerns in Argentina and street protests in Colombia.
“Today we were solid at the back, everyone helped, it’s the spirit to win titles,” said midfielder Casemiro. He was one of the players who before the tournament criticized the organization for sending the Copa to Brazil. “Now it’s all about the mind and the heart. You don’t play a final, you win a final.
Brazil has alarming numbers on COVID-19 and a crisis in its football confederation that has led to the suspension of President Rogerio Caboclo after a charge of sexual harassment. Caboclo denies any wrongdoing.
Two years ago, Brazil won the title without an injured Neymar in a 3-1 win over Peru. Next Saturday’s final, which will be played without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, promises to be more difficult.
Peru will play in Friday’s third-place match against the loser of Tuesday’s semi-final. Coach Ricardo Gareca has said he has high hopes after his side’s Copa America performances.
“The key is the constant overtaking of this team against the adversities we face, the reactions we have. Peru have young players who have done well, “said Gareca.” We would have liked to improve, but now we have to prepare in the best possible way for the future. “
Meanwhile, Brazil will play to prove that they are the team to beat in South America and one of the favorites for the World Cup in Qatar next year.
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