Going into the Copa America, we posed questions about the campaigns of the 10 South American sides. Now that the 43rd Copa America is history, we look back to find out if the tournament came up with the answers. (Listed from winners down to the teams eliminated in the group phase)
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- One figure has dominated this Copa America. The shadow of Sergio Markarian, the balding, bespectacled Peru coach who had such an influence on the philosophy of the sides who finished first, second and third, lurked in the background, but the man of the tournament was the tall, grey-haired figure with the limp who calmly wandered around shaking hands and exchanging hugs at fulltime in the final, as his players cavorted in one great mass of celebration.
On Tuesday night, Oscar Washington Tabarez limped across the pitch in La Plata and paused, his knee injury apparently making him wary of progressing too far on the sodden, uneven surface. He looked at his celebrating players as though determined to soak in the spectacle and as they slowly broke off to trot in to the dressing-room, each made a point of going over to him. Tabarez's second coming as national coach has already been glorious, but on Sunday it might get even better.
SAN JUAN, Argentina -- The full moon shone bright and white over San Juan, its domination of the chill sky seeming a symbol of the lunacy that took over the Copa America this weekend. The tournament -- perhaps any tournament -- has never known a series of quarterfinals like it, as the three group-winners and the hosts all crashed out. The machinations of the schedulers, who had done everything in their power to ensure a third successive Brazil-Argentina final, are left looking a little silly.
The Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez was once told that "'In this century, only three important things have happened to Colombia: the political violent outburst of 1948, the publication in 1967 of 100 Years of Solitude, and the 5-0 defeat of Argentina by Colombia's national squad in 1993." Laughing, Márquez replied, "You know what the worst thing about that is? It's true."
One could make a very strong case that no other team in the world has forwards as talented as Argentina's, the team currently has no less than six world-class options -- Carlos Tevez even pronounced it with confidence after La Albiceleste's last pre Copa America 2011 friendly against Albania last week. But then, in the famous adage of former England midfielder John Gregory, strikers win you games, but defenders win you championships.
The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) received a letter Monday that contained a very special invitation: the chance for Spain to play in the Copa América, to be held in Argentina in July. And yes, you did read that right: Spain -- the European champion -- was invited to play in the Copa América, the American championship.
RIO DE JANEIRO -- I took a wander from my apartment here on Monday and one of the first people I saw was Ronaldinho, sitting enjoying a leisurely beer in a temporary break from the revelries of Carnaval. Seated to his right was another Ronaldinho, doing the same thing. On his left, yet another ...