Brazil went into their third and final group game knowing that a victory would see them top the group. Brazil have been poor in the final third throughout the tournament and subsequently, Brazil’s head coach Tite opted to alter his starting XI. The poorly performing David Neres and Richarlison were switched out, in favour of Gabriel Jesus and Grêmio’s Everton Soares and with these changes to the starting XI, Brazil ran rampant against Peru. The Seleção played far better than they did in their opening two fixtures and early goals from Casemiro, Firmino and Everton meant that Brazil essentially had the game wrapped up before half time, Dani Alves and Willian later added their names to the scoresheet as Brazil went onto win the game 5-0.
Ederson once again remained on the bench whilst Fernandinho wasn’t included in the squad, however, Gabriel Jesus, now Manchester City’s number 9 played the full 90 minutes. Jesus started the game at right-wing often cutting inside when presented with the opportunity, whilst Liverpool’s Bobby Firmino played as the lone striker. The City star looked a threat throughout the game and the young Brazilian was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet, Jesus’ movement and his contributions to Brazil’s build-up play were excellent and he linked up excellently with Firmino throughout the 90 minutes.
Gabriel Jesus performed well playing wide but following Willian’s introduction in the 77th minute, Jesus was repositioned into his favoured role as an out-and-striker to partner Firmino, and the two Premier League strikers continued to link up well together. In stoppage time, Jesus won a penalty after being tripped by Peruvian ‘keeper Pedro Gallese, however, the City star was unable to convert the spot kick as Gallese made an excellent save to deny Jesus his first goal of the tournament.
Despite not getting onto the scoresheet, Gabriel Jesus played very well and will surely keep his place in the starting XI, throughout the game Jesus was consistently lively, often easily taking on defenders with his pace and skill. There is a distinct sense of belief that there is so much more to come from Jesus, and he may have a big part to play as Brazil look likely to win their first COMNEBOL Copa America since 2007.
Following some appalling performances in their opening two matches, Argentina, by the skin of their teeth, made it to the quarter-finals of the Copa America, however, the Argentines looked less than convincing as they defeated Qatar 2-0. Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez gave Argentina an early lead following a dreadful mistake by a Qatari defender who erroneously passed the ball to the Inter forward just outside the Qatar penalty box. Later in the game Sergio Aguero wrapped up the win with a great goal in the 82nd minute to secure Argentina’s place in the quarter-finals. Darting past three players before sending it across the keeper into the far corner, it was vintage Sergio Aguero.
Despite scoring, Sergio Aguero missed several opportunities throughout the game, however, the City star made amends late on as he doubled Argentina’s lead. Aguero’s goal meant that he became only the third Argentina player to score at least 40 goals for the nation, and is only trailing Gabriel Batistuta and Lionel Messi in the list Argentina’s all-time top scorers. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi played in a more withdrawn role throughout the game and he linked up well with Sergio Aguero in the final third, the duo playing well together against Paraguay and Qatar and Aguero getting his first goal of the tournament, should mean that the City striker will keep his place in the Argentine starting XI as the tournament progresses.
City’s Nicolas Otamendi played well and ensured that Argentina kept their first clean sheet of the tournament. Despite only managing a single shot on target, Qatar ensured that the last 30 minutes of the game was particularly nervy for the Argentines as they threatened to score several times late on. The City defender was one of the better players on the pitch as he performed much better than in Argentina’s previous fixtures and remained calm and collected throughout the game. Otamendi was stronger in possession than in previous games and he looked far less of a liability when passing out from the back.
Following the culmination of the group stage, each of City’s representatives at the tournament has made it through to the quarter-finals. Argentina will play Venezuela whilst Brazil’s quarter-final opponent will be Paraguay. Should both Argentina and Brazil win their respective quarter-final matches, they shall face each other in what would surely be an interesting semi-final.