Brazil had all the pressure on their shoulders ahead of the 2019 Copa America. Part of the reason for that was because they were pre-tournament favourites. The other part was because they are hosting the tournament. So they could easily have faltered under the weight of such expectancy but instead they powered through to reach their first final since 2007. As for Peru, their opponents at the Maracana on Sunday, they have defied the odds to make it to just their second ever Copa America Final.
The Selecao deliver
There have been times during the tournament that Brazil have looked far from perfect. Their preparations were disrupted with the loss of icon Neymar through injury prior to the big kick-off. So that left some big boots for them to fill up front. In their opening game, they were being held to a 0-0 draw at halftime by outsiders Bolivia and so frustrated were the home support, they booed their Brazilian team off the pitch. The Selecao woke up after a nervy first half display to record a 3-0 win.
But a 0-0 final scoreline against Venezuela in their second match brought about more booing. Brazil had three disallowed goals in the game and just couldn’t get that telling touch. So there were wobbles happening. But then things came together in their final group stage match as they crushed Peru 5-0, five different players getting on the scoresheet. That was what the fans wanted to see and with them lining back up against Peru, it’s not a great surprise that the Brazilians are -319 favourites to win this Final.
The Nerves return
There were stressful times for Brazil in their quarter-final tie against Paraguay. The Brazilians had 19 shots on target in the game, but the game ended in a 0-0 draw somehow. So there were massive nerves that they had missed the boat, missed the chance to win such a winnable fixture. The Brazilians survived the penalty shoot-out 4-3 though. That moved them ahead to a much-anticipated showdown with old rivals Argentina. It was a match that was expected to be the final of 2019 Copa America.
But Lionel Messi and Argentina were having bad struggles, more so than Brazil really. They had failed to win their group, putting them on an early collision course with the hosts. In a match of contentious decisions, it was the Brazilians who came out on top thanks to goals by Man City’s Gabriel Jesus and Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino. Now the Brazilians will look to end over a decade with no top four finish at the tournament, to once again rule the continent. It would be their sixth Copa America title were they to do it.
Can Peru deny the favourites?
The bookmakers, fans and the Peruvian team themselves will all know that they will be kicking off in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday as heavy underdogs. That’s to the tune of +1266 with BetBTC. La Blanquirroja were the first ever winners of the Copa America in 1975 as they beat Colombia. Prior to that, the tournament had been known as the South American Championships, which Peru won just once since it began in 1916.
The Peruvians were outsiders to even book a top two qualification spot from their group at this latest edition. That was justified as they only got through to the quarterfinals as one of the best third-placed teams. After playing out a 0-0 draw with Venezuela in their first group stage fixture, they put a 3-1 win on the board over Bolivia for their precious points. Then came the heavy blow against Brazil.
But they defied the odds again in the quarter-finals as they beat Uruguay on penalties. Peru pretty much defended for 90 minutes as Uruguay tore into them, but the Peruvian defence stood firm, playing out a 0-0 draw. They were then underdogs once more for their semi-final fixture against two-time reigning champions Chile. But Peru had something special up their sleeve. After scoring just three goals in their first four games of the competition (failing to score in three of those four), Peru stunned the holders with a shock 3-0 victory.
Copa America 2019 Final Summary
Peru will bank three top-three finishes in four editions of the Copa America when the dust settles on this one. Will they be champions and defy those huge odds? They are walking into an intimidating atmosphere at the Maracana, against the best team on the continent. How do they pull this off? Play for another 0-0 like they did against Uruguay in the quarters? The game is +163 to finish under two goals.
The Brazilians have not looked like a finished product. Far from it. They have missed the creative spark of Neymar without a shadow of a doubt. But the way that they handled themselves in beating their big rivals Argentina, shows that they have some mental strength there. That’s going to be important to handle the occasion and live up to the billing as favourites on home soil.