Copa America 2021 group stages are finally over, and the knock-out phase is about to begin. After declining the invitation from CONMEBOL, Qatar and Australia forced the competition to be held in a new format with two groups of 5 teams each. The top 4 of each group qualify for the quarter-finals of the competition.
Let’s start with Group A — Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Uruguay. The first round saw Argentina vs. Chile 1-1 with an outrageous free-kick from Lionel Messi and then the equalizing goal from Vargas after the rebound of the missed penalty from Vidal. It was not the start that Argentina would want, but they immediately got back stronger with three wins in the second, third, and fifth rounds. 1-0 against both Uruguay and Paraguay, with goals from Guido Rodriguez and Alejandro Gomez, respectively. The last game saw Argentina take on the last place of group A, Bolivia. They went running riots, winning 4-1 with Lionel Messi being the Man of the Match with two goals. In the scoresheet also appeared for the first time in the event ‘El Toro’ Lautaro Martinez and Alejandro Gomez with the second goal in Copa America 2021. Uruguay, another contender for the cup, lost against Argentina 1-0 in round 2, took one point after being behind in a final 1-1 draw vs. Chile with Luis Suarez responding to Edu Vargas. After 1 point in two games, Uruguay managed to win the two other matches 0-2 versus Bolivia with the help of an own goal and Edinson Cavani. The last round saw them against Paraguay, and the result was 1-0 for La Celeste with a penalty goal from Cavani. Chile secured a 1-0 win versus Bolivia after drawing 1-1 against Argentina in the first match, with Brereton being the hero of the three points. Another 1-1 draw against Uruguay and closing their group campaign with a 2-0 loss against Paraguay, Samudio, and a penalty from Almiron caused the defeat. Paraguay started the competition with a 3-1 win against Bolivia. A fantastic second-half comeback with Kaku and Romero twice, which made the penalty converted in goal in the first half from Saavedra useless. A loss against Argentina and Uruguay (1-0 both games) and a victory 2-0 against Chile was the path of Paraguay. Bolivia is the last-placed team in group A with 0 points, losing against all their opponents. 3-1 vs. Paraguay, 1-0 vs. Chile, 2-0 vs. Uruguay, and 4-1 vs. Argentina. These defeats made Bolivia, the worst team of Copa America 2021. The final standing of this group saw Argentina on top with 10 points, Uruguay with 7, Paraguay with 6, Chile 5, and Bolivia 0.
Group B was formed by the home team Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and Ecuador. The first round saw Brazil vs. Venezuela and Colombia vs. Ecuador. Brazil showed they are the number one contenders of this group and the whole competition. With a 3-0 win, Marquinhos, Neymar with a penalty, and Gabriel Barbosa on the scoresheet. Los Cafeteros, on the other hand, won 1-0 against Ecuador with the help of Cardona. The second round saw Brazil showing no mercy against Peru, winning 4-0 with goals of Alex Sandro, Neymar, Richarlison, and Ribeiro. Colombia, after dominated Venezuela, couldn’t find the net, ending in a 0-0 draw and Venezuela having a precious point. Another disappointing performance in round 3 from Colombia saw them losing 1-2 against Peru. With Pena scoring the opening goal, Borja equalizing for Colombia with a penalty kick, and Mina scored an own goal, giving Peru the win. Venezuela vs. Ecuador was the other match of round 3, ending in a spectacular 2-2 draw, with Hernandez equalizing, in the end, to rescue a point for Venezuela and keeping their hopes alive. Brazil showed power and composure against Colombia, coming back from behind to win the game in the 100th minute (90+10) with the goal from Casemiro. Diaz scored a fantastic goal in the first half, then Firmino equalized in the 78th minute. Brazil meant business! Peru took a precious point against Ecuador, coming back from 2-0 down to equalize in just five minutes (49 and 54 of the second half), with Lapadula and Carrillo responding to the own goal from Tapia and Preciado. After securing the qualification and the first place, Brazil made some of their best players rest and took a 1-1 draw against Ecuador. Militao scored first in the first half, then Mena scored the equalizing goal. Venezuela vs. Peru was a crucial match for both of them, seeing that it was played for the qualification to the quarters. With a win, Venezuela could achieve it, and with any other result, it would have been Peru the team to go through. A goal from Carrilo at the beginning of the second half made Peru win 1-0 and go through to the next phase, leaving Venezuela in the last place of group B. The final standings for this group saw Brazil in first place with 10 points, Peru 7, Colombia 4, Ecuador 3, and Venezuela 2 points.
Now begins the most exciting part with the 4 quarter-finals revealed—Argentina vs. Ecuador, Uruguay vs. Colombia, Brazil vs. Chile, and Peru vs. Paraguay. A possible final between Brazil and Argentina makes the event even more interesting. Can Messi finally win something important with his national team? Or will Brazil continue the tradition at home?