Colombia-Uruguay, it seems more like a final | Columnists | Sports

Colombia-Uruguay, it seems more like a final | Columnists | Sports
Colombia-Uruguay, it seems more like a final | Columnists | Sports

Gold semi-finals. Colombia scored five goals against Panama. The yellow team reached its peak of performance and charm. The Panamanian team paid for it. Then came the battle in Las Vegas between Brazil and Uruguay, in which football was a formal excuse to kick and hit each other without being arrested by the police. Brazil added another big failure. Uruguay’s passage to the night surely took away from Colombia the euphoria of the 5-0 in the afternoon. The Celeste is playing at the absolute limit of referee tolerance. Another fight is promised for Wednesday.

* Perfection. Colombia gave its large colony in the United States another football feast. In another compact collective display, it added one more victory and extended its unbeaten streak to 27 games, 24 in the Lorenzo era, with 16 wins and 8 draws. But more than the statistics —nice ones, by the way— there is the game. It was a championship performance. Football on all sides, individuality, speed, attack, defense, harmony, forcefulness. Not even Julio Verne could have imagined this present Colombian situation, so soon after that fateful qualifying round for Qatar (March 2022), when not only was it eliminated from the World Cup, but it also played ugly and badly and went seven games without scoring a goal. Now it has eleven in four games. It is heaven after hell.

* Prudence. “There is not a five-goal difference between Colombia and Panama,” declared the Argentine coach, briefly, measuredly, completely detached from praise and success stories, without demagogy, without false modesty. “We arrived well,” he added, referring to the semi-final against Uruguay, in which he will have Jefferson Lerma back, a physical colossus who will be necessary to face the easterners.

* James’ Cup. James, the freshest player in the Cup, only played 265 minutes in the semester, and it shows: he flies, he is back to the best level of his career. He is the same James from the 2014 World Cup. Against Panama he gave two more assists and scored from a penalty. He is in a magical moment. Lorenzo has given him absolute freedom in the square, to get close to the center forward, to the wingers, to the full-backs when they go up, to associate with whoever he considers appropriate. That empowered him, freed him. And also the confidence and relevance that the coach confers on him has made him almost the owner of the team, but with the support of his teammates. It is very comforting to see him like this after years in the shadows.

* Mystery. Néstor Lorenzo retired as a player in 1998 and only in 2021 did he take charge of a team, Melgar FC of Peru, the only step before joining the Colombian national team. Before that, he had always been an assistant to other coaches. He also did a brilliant job at Melgar. He is one of the most notable revelations in technical management. He is 58 years old. The question is, how did no one discover him before…?

* Exam. However, this honeymoon of the team, of the fans, of the country, will be put to the test on Wednesday against Uruguay. Bielsa’s team had already been labelled as a cuckoo. Now, after eliminating Brazil, more than ever. Colombia will play everything in one match: if they lose, they will say that everything before was useless; if they overcome that obstacle, glory awaits them.

* Decade. After another night of horror and being left out of the Copa America, an anniversary stirs up the wound, deepens it: today marks ten years since Brazil’s 1-7 defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup, the day we realized that Brazil was no longer the powerful, invincible and beautiful team that enchanted the world. That day, their pride was thrashed.

* Impotent. This is another cheap version of the Green and Yellow, without real stars, only rich and famous. The one that couldn’t beat Costa Rica, the one that didn’t get past 0-0 and lost on penalties to a fierce, tough Uruguay that went beyond the boundaries of grit. But Uruguay was always more or less like that, except that this Brazil was not prepared, either football-wise or mentally, to overcome such an obstacle. It ended with ten Uruguay. And if there were nine, Brazil couldn’t beat it either. It was clear that it had no way.

* Image. A video went around the world after Brazil’s elimination: before the penalty shoot-out, as usual, all the teams form a circle around their coach, who gives the list of those who will be in charge of kicking, gives a speech and gives some instructions to the goalkeeper and the kickers. In the case of Brazil, the players formed a circle and left out Dorival Júnior, who tried to get in the middle and say something. He couldn’t do it, they didn’t let him, they turned their backs on him at all times. It’s a pathetic scene and it shows that things are not going well there, there is no minimum principle of authority.

* Unsettling. A torrent of data came to light after the game. Brazil will complete 24 years without winning a World Cup in 2026. In the last four World Cups, it was not even the best South American team. In 2028, when the next edition comes around, it will have won a Copa America in 21 years. João Havelange left the FIFA presidency in 1998. Brazil no longer has any kind of control or influence in CONMEBOL, much less in the parent company in Zurich. For decades, it controlled the FIFA and CONMEBOL Referees Committee. Not anymore. It is left without the monsters of yesteryear, who resolved the games with or without a coach. Vinicius is the leader of this team, a player more focused on controversies and altercations than on the game. By the way, Vinicius came to the Cup as a superstar due to his performance at Real Madrid: he did not influence the tournament.

* Gerson. the super-crack and supreme leader of the 1970 Brazilian champions made strong statements on his YouTube channel. “This midfield is rubbish. Do they know how to play? Paquetá knows how to, but he wants to fight with everyone, they caution him and he had to leave. João Gomes? That kid doesn’t know how to play football, he only plays on the wings and back… The two full-backs were stuck, Danilo doesn’t know how to play. The base of the team doesn’t exist, João Gomes is not a midfielder. The midfield is for those who know, for those who think. And the one who thinks is Paquetá, who only wants to fight…”

* Layer. “This is a generation that can lead Brazil through its longest period without world titles,” said Cahê Mota, from Globe SportsBrazil was the only South American football team that did not stop its domestic championship during the Copa América, which its media gave minimal coverage to. (O)

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