The summer of 2016 has been wonderful for soccer fans. In this rare soccer solstice, we’ve been fortunate to experience both the Copa America Centenario and EURO 2016. On top of all of that, Pre-season friendlies are already underway and we’re a few weeks away from the Olympics.
With that being said, if we were to compare the Copa America and Euros, there is no question, the Copa was a better tournament.
If you look at the Euro’s in a vacuum, you’ll see that the EURO 2016 Champions Portugal didn’t win a single match in regulation until the semi-finals against Wales, finished third in their group, benefitted from a lopsided bracket, and wouldn’t have even advanced were it not for a format rule change regarding third place teams. In addition Portugal hoisted their first major tournament cup without the services of their star player Cristiano Ronaldo who was subbed off in the 25th minute of the final.
Chile on the other hand, while off to a rough start, really came alive as a team throughout the secondary rounds of the Copa and truly bossed every game that truly mattered. Chile are the true champions of the Americas and they’ve proved that the last two years through their showings. The back-to-back Copa America Champions boasted a tournament-leading eight players on the best Copa America 11 plus three of their players were awarded top honors – Alexis Sanchez (MVP), Claudio Bravo (Golden Glove), Eduardo Vargas (Golden Boot).
In terms of narrative, look at everything the Copa provided us. You had the Brazil/Neymar disappointment, Mexico’s fantastic play leading up to the debacle against Chile, Haiti playing in the tournament given their tragic history of late, USA’s run towards a fourth place finish, third-ranked Colombia, and last but not least, the drama surrounding the Argentina Football Association. So many storylines and I haven’t even mentioned Lionel Messi’s “retirement” announcement after the Copa final defeat.
The Euros on the other hand, felt like they went by in a flash. It’s incredible to me that a tournament that claimed that the best soccer players in the world were going to be on display and featured 50-plus games over the course of a month, felt as if it was over in two weeks. I mean, I blinked and we were already in the Quarter Finals due to the lack of memorable moments.
Look at all of the supposed story lines: England disappointed (no surprise there), Vicente Del Bosque’s stubbornness led to Spain’s downfall, France played well but didn’t finish the job and Portugal, as stated earlier, were boring champions to say the least. The most interesting about them in the finals was the fact that it took Eder scoring the best goal of his life, in extra time, for them to win. He wasn’t even the best Eder at the tournament (See Italy).
Chile on the other hand, played like a gang of ruthless killers with side parts and neck tattoos. They were so aggressive on both sides of the ball and pressured everyone they came against with their pressing tactics, skill and unity. On top of all that, their stars played like the elite players they are. Sanchez, Bravo, Vidal, all played to expectations (Unlike Belgium…). Chile has been the most impressive team in international soccer for the past two years and should be touted as one of the favorites for the World Cup in 2018.