The 2019 Copa America group stage has come to an end and the 2015 winners look strong: Uruguay played a very intense match against Chile at the Maracanã and walked away with a vital 1-0 win thanks to goal by Edinson Cavani. Barcelona’s Luis Suárez played the entire 90 minutes while Arturo Vidal did not play a single second and stayed the whole game on the bench as Chile tried to park the bus and win the group with a draw. The plan didn’t work at the end, and now La Roja will face Colombia. Good luck.
Chile made a good start to the game, especially defensively. With a back three shielded by holding midfielder Pulgar they isolated Cavani and Suárez, and with heavy pressure applied by the four midfielders ahead on the most creative Uruguayan players (Bentancur, Lodeiro and Arrascaeta), the Chileans cut every attack at the source and forced Giménez and Godín to try and create through long balls looking for the forwards, but the pressure from Alexis and Vargas made them rush those passes and La Celeste had no options.
But the two Uruguay full-backs started pushing forward, which allowed the four midfielders to play closer together and Suárez and Cavani became more mobile looking for spaces in between the lines. Uruguay improved with more bodies in the middle and created the best opportunities in the game through crosses and set pieces, with Godín and Cáceres especially missing two big chances after corners.
At halftime, a game marked by the intensity and physicality shown by both sides as they tried to stop each other had no goals but a nice tactical battle, and the hope was that things would open up more in the second half.
Chile’s gameplan worked even better in the second half as they had more possession and were smart about their pressing to force Uruguay into more long balls that went nowhere. La Roja had one big opportunity to take the lead on a header by Díaz, but Giménez made a wonderful clearance off the line.
As we entered the final 15 minutes and Uruguay’s attack looked less and less able to create chances, it seemed like Chile were set to keep a clean sheet and win the group. But in the first long sequence of possession by Uruguay in the whole game that started on the right wing and went all the way to the left, Rodríguez played a perfect cross to Cavani who scored the opener with a sensational header.
Chile had very little time to find an equalizer and they certainly tried with a few long balls into the box looking for their taller players, but Godín and Giménez were a fortress as usual and never let things get dangerous.
The final whistle came, and Uruguay are winners of Group C and will face Peru next. For Chile it’s a nightmare matchup with Colombia, one in which they’ll badly need Arturo Vidal.
Chile: Arias; Medel (Lichonvsky), Jara (Castillo), Maripán; Días, Aránguiz, Pulgar, Hernández, Opazo; Vargas (Fernandes), Alexis
Uruguay: Muslera; González, Giménez, Godín, Cáceres; Arrascaeta (Rodríguez), Valverde (Coates), Bentancur, Lodeiro (Nández); Cavani, Suárez
Goal: Cavani (82’)