Messi and Company dominate Paraguay in Copa America 2015 Semi-Final, 6-1…
by Shea Baldwin
Tuesday night Argentina faced off against Paraguay in Chile for the Copa America Semi-Finals. This was the second time Argentina and Paraguay would battle, the pair met in their opening group game finishing in a 2-2 draw. Argentina was aware of Paraguay persistence and relentless ability to not give up coming into Tuesday’s match, especially with Paraguay coming off a victory against Brazil in the quarter-finals.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, was aiming to end Argentina’s 22-year trophy drought coming into the match, but Paraguay proved to be no pushover in this years’ Copa America tournament. They took out Brazil, but the “Cinderella Story” came to a halting finish when Argentina showcased their amazing talent and ability.
Argentina Starting XI: Romero; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Otamendi, Rojo, Biglia, Mascherano, Pastore, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero.
Paraguay Starting XI: Villar; Aguilar, Bruno Valdez, Da Silva, Piris, Gonzalez, Caceres, Ortiz, Benitez, Haedo Valdez, Santa Cruz.
Argentina took the early lead at the 15′ mark with a goal by Manchester United, Marcos Rojo. Messi’s cross causes confusion in the box and during the scramble, Rojo swings a leg at the ball in between two defenders beating goalkeeper Villar.
For the second time in the tournament, Paraguay found themselves down 2-0 to Argentina due to a goal by Javier Pastore at the 27′ mark. Spectators grew uneasy, wondering if history would repeat itself and Paraguay would somehow fight back into this one. Argentina’s speed and counter-attack proved to be too much for Paraguay’s defense, with the ball constantly in Messi’s possession, Argentina obviously was close to impossible to stop.
Suddenly, history began to repeat itself at the 43′ mark when Barrios scores for Paraguay put them back in contention. Barrios was fed a through-ball, and the substitute couldn’t believe his luck that no Argentina defender was around him, he puts his foot through the shot and past goalkeeper Romero who simply couldn’t stop the missile. People wondered if this was deja vu, would Paraguay come from behind and somehow defeat one of the best teams in the world.
At the 47′ mark just inside the second half, Manchester United’s Di Maria restored Argentina’s two-goal lead. A through-ball by Pastore with the outside of his foot puts the goal on a plate for Di Maria, who finishes beyond Paraguay’s goalkeeper Villar from eight yards out.
Shortly thereafter at the 53′ mark, Di Maria showed he wasn’t done yet. Argentina’s notoriously dangerous counter-attack found one lone defender after Messi blew by three defenders with clever footwork creating a 5-on-1 situation. Di Maria found himself with acres of space after the ball deflects his way as he tapped it into the empty net with goalkeeper Villar stranded from his poor defenders. The score read 4-1 and only got worse from there.
With two more goals by Argentina’s Aguero and Higuain in the final minutes of the game, Paraguay’s hopes of repeating history and upsetting another tournament favorite were to distant to comprehend. Messi, not on the score-sheet, but his three assists prove that he and his squad mean business!
It was definitely a statement game with six goals by Argentina, the host country Chile awaits in the Copa America 2015 Final. With Paraguay falling, Chile will surely take on the underdog role and continue their own Cinderella story. The Copa America Final will be July 4th, in Santiago, Chile, what a game it will be. Can Chile’s Vidal and Vargas manage to ride this momentum, or will the world-talented Argentina, led by Lionel Messi, prove they are the best in South America?
Photo: Reuters, Getty Images.