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)
SANTA FE, Argentina -- As Martin Caceres' penalty soared into the top corner and confirmed Uruguay's passage to a fifth successive Copa America semifinal, a sense of disbelief fell over the Estadio Estanislau Lopez.
The last time the U.S. played Argentina, in 2008, the result was proof that a 0-0 score line could still produce a thrilling soccer game. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard stood on his head, and a huge crowd in the Meadowlands saw the Americans survive going toe-to-toe with supernova Lionel Messi and his talented Argentine teammates.
Lionel Messi can chalk off another objective achieved in his young but already extraordinary career. His glorious goal in stoppage time Wednesday gave Argentina a 1-0 victory over Brazil in Doha, Qatar, his first win against the Seleção at the senior level.
A 4-1 win Tuesday over world champion Spain should do much to transform Sergio Batista from caretaker to full-time coach of Argentina. More than that, though, it rams home a lesson forgotten by predecessor Diego Maradona amid the euphoria of South Africa 2010 -- midfield is not an optional extra.
As a player, Oscar Ruggeri bludgeoned his way through 97 games for Argentina, winning one World Cup and two Copa América titles to become one of his country's most successful internationals. His coaching career, on the other hand, has been an extraordinary run of failure. It began reasonably well at San Lorenzo, when he was close to winning the championship in his first season. But it has been all downhill since then.
With such incredible potential at its disposal, Argentina should proceed to the decisive stages of the Olympic Games without breaking a sweat. Los Albicelestes proved their superiority in the first round by winning all three of their group matches and playing some highly effective soccer. Bit some unexpected weaknesses were also revealed.
Barcelona and Argentina are in a club versus country battle for the services of Lionel Messi after sport's highest court ruled in favor of the Spanish giants who do not want the striker to play in the Olympic football tournament.