What: 2011 Copa America Final
Who: Uruguay vs Paraguay
When: Sunday 24th July, 2011, at 16:00 local time (20:00 UK time)
Where: Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Out for the Record
It may not have been the final that was widely anticipated, but it was natural that after knocking out hosts Argentina and Brazil respectively, Uruguay and Paraguay find themselves in the 2011 Copa America final, hosted in the famous El Monumental stadium, home to fallen giants River Plate. On level terms with Argentina with regard to Copa America honours, Uruguay now have the chance to lead alone.
Against Venezuela, Oscar Tabarez’s side dominated much of the proceedings, eventually toppling their adversaries by two goals signed by Luis Suarez, a player the coach greatly boasted in his post-match declaration: “He is an elite player in world football. We talked about having more presence up top. That is how we got the first goal. [Diego] Forlan and Suarez appeared. After that, Peru kept attacking, but we had it under control."
Uruguay might be slight favourites, but a team that has knocked out Brazil certainly will not run and hide. Uruguay will have to be extra careful not to leave gaps at the back for the Paraguayan attack however, as Roque Santa Cruz and Nelson Valdez could potentially shoot down the Uruguayans’ dreams.
Surviving Another Shoot-out
Emotions were high in the air at the Estadio Alvinas Argentinas in Mendoza, as a goalless draw after ninety minutes meant that Paraguay were on their way to their second consecutive penalty shoot-out. Luckily for La Albirroja, they managed to tackle Venezuela, booking their place in the final stage for the first time since 1979, back when they won their second and last Copa America accolade.
The Paraguayan team managed to hold its own against Venezuela, with goalkeeper Justo Villar proving to be the hero once again as he denied several Venezuelan attempts, notably a solid effort from Jose Salomon Rondon. The new Estudiantes goalkeeper was again the penalty-kick hero as he denied Franklin Lucena from the spot. Should he continue on the same path, then there is a good chance that the Player of the Tournament award is his.
Paraguay might have had their luck so far, but they will have to be at their best should they want to dispatch Uruguay, whose forward Luis Suarez cannot certainly be counted out. Diego Forlan will be dangerous too as he looks to kick-start his tournament following torrid times.
Uruguay 1-0 Mexico
(12/07; Copa America)
Argentina 1-1 Uruguay; 5-4 pens to Uruguay (16/07; Copa America)
Peru 0-2 Uruguay
(19/07; Copa America)
Paraguay 3-3 Venezuela
(13/07; Copa America)
Brazil 0-0 Paraguay; 2-0 pens to Paraguay (17/07; Copa America)
Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela; 5-3 pens to Paraguay (20/07; Copa America)
Players to watch
Uruguay – Luis Suarez: The hero on the night against Venezuela will go up against Paraguay’s keeper in a battle of two of the best players in the tournament so far. Their personal contest does not summarise the match, but it will certainly be expected.
Paraguay – Justo Villar: Paraguay’s man of the tournament will definitely have all eyes watching him as he prepares to guide La Albirroja to their first major trophy in 32 years. While questions have surfaced over his abilities at 34 years old, Villar has hit back at his detractors with fine displays.
Uruguay are favourites going into this match, but at such a stage, anything can happen. Paraguay have shown that they can compete with any team so far, but could ultimately fall against Tabarez and his side. Expect Uruguay to lift the title at the end.
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