ZM’s Copa America Best XI

July 29, 2011

The starting line-ups

The outstanding performers from July’s Copa America tournament in Argentina.

Justo Villar (Paraguay)

Getting to the final without winning a game or scoring a goal in the knockout stages relies on a good record at the back. Paraguay’s constantly changing back four were generally impressive, but Villar was superb. Some fantastic saves against Brazil were followed by some impressive saves in the shoot-out, a trick he repeated in the semi-final against Venezuela.

Juan Zuniga (Colombia)

A utility man for Napoli, but a key man for Colombia. In a defence which didn’t concede a goal in the group stages, Zuniga contributed to the good defensive record whilst also being a constant threat going forward, showing good quality with the ball at his feet.

Sebastian Coates (Uruguay)

The youngest of Uruguay’s impressive collection of centre-backs, but the standout performer in this competition. After Diego Lugano and Mauricio Victorino had a nightmare against Paolo Guerrero in Uruguay’s opening game, Coates came into the side and steadied the defence. Comfortable either as a man-marker in a four-man defence or as a sweeper in a three, Uruguay always seemed more comfortable when he was in the side.

Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (Venezuela)

A fantastic penalty box defender – uncompromising, committed and positionally-excellent. Venezuela often had to put up with the opposition enjoying the majority of possession, but Vizcarrondo was the main reason they could be comfortable with this. He also popped up to score a great header in the quarter-final against Chile.

Alvaro Pereira (Uruguay)

Pereira started the tournament on the bench against Peru when Uruguay desperately needed his width and attacking drive from left-back – but after that he started every game on the way to the final. His versatility came in handy – he is able to play as a left-back, a left-wing-back or a left-sided midfielder.

Egidio Arevalo (Uruguay)

A fierce competitor in the heart of midfield – and whilst Luis Suarez received the official man of the match award for the final, it was Arevalo’s closing down of Nestor Ortigoza that set the tone for the Uruguayan performance. Arevalo has been used to performing in a double act with Diego Perez, but Perez’s red card against Argentina and subsequent suspension against Peru brought the best out of Arevalo as the sole holding player.

Tomas Rincon (Venezuela)

A powerful but technically gifted midfielder, and officially named as the best player at the tournament. His harsh red card against Chile robbed him of the chance to play in the semi-final against Paraguay – and without their driving force in midfield, Venezuela were much less likely to score.

Juan Arango (Venezuela)

Another Venezuelan who showed technical quality in the middle of the pitch, as well as great ability from dead balls. Indeed, with this tournament being dominated by set-pieces, Arango’s delivery was crucial for Venezuela – especially in the 2-1 win over Chile, where both goals came from dead ball situations.

Alexis Sanchez (Chile)

Not quite at the level he reached for Udinese last season, but a constant threat. He also came up with an end product at important moments – a good goal against Uruguay, a key assist against Venezuela.

Luis Suarez (Uruguay)

A good finish against Peru was crucial to Suarez staying in the side over Edinson Cavani, as Oscar Tabarez switched from a front three to a front two after that opening game. That gave Suarez more freedom and more of a central role – he was able to work the channels, picking up the ball between full-back and centre-back and looking to come inside. He also showed an amazing ability to win free-kicks and get opponents booked – especially against Argentina, where this knack was crucial to Uruguay remaining in the game.

Paolo Guerrero (Peru)

The classic all-round centre-forward – holding the ball up, working the channels, trying to get onto balls over the top and relishing crosses, Guerrero was a handful for every defence he faced, despite frequently getting little help from his teammates. He and Suarez finished as the two top scorers, but they were also the best forwards as a whole.

Honourable mentions

Fernando Muslera (Uruguay)

Mario Yepes (Colombia)

Diego Lugano (Uruguay)

Dario Veron (Paraguay)

Maicon (Brazil)

Pablo Armero (Colombia)

Carlos Sanchez (Colombia)

Nestor Ortigoza (Paraguay)

Jorge Valdivia (Chile)

Ganso (Brazil)

Sergio Aguero (Argentina)

Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

Joel Campbell (Costa Rica)

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