by G.D. Morrill
Yesterday, two extremely competitive rivals and South American neighbors, which share a border in the Andes, Argentina and Chile, met in California’s Santa Clara, at Levy Stadium to a full house. Argentina, number one, and Chile, number two in world soccer rankings. One of the best match ups in this year’s Copa America. To say they hate each other would be understating the rivalry. These countries have never gotten along on any level and fortunately live out this rivalry on the pitch rather on the battle field.
The Argentine’s, started without Barcelona forward, Leonel Messi, arguably the best soccer player in the world, and Kun Aguero, of Manchester City of the English Premiership, and one of the league’s top scorers (also, son in law of the great Armando Maradona). Messi has a back injury, but no one knew why Aguero didn’t start but came in the game in the 60th minute. Messi was never needed and will benefit from the rest.
Chile is last year’s reigning Copa champion, having won the cup in Chile with much controversy that they had “bought” the title with several questionable calls in their favor. Their best players, internationals Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal would determine how far they go in this game and the tournament. Yesterday, they were very active and dangerous, but quiet in terms of scoring.
From the beginning, it was like two heavyweights, slugging it out. Both sides looked equal, but as the game went on, Argentina’s number ranking became more and more obvious. Finally, Angel DiMaria, the Argentine international who plays for Paris St. Germaine, scored on the near post on a pass by Ever Banagas, guarded by Chile’s goalie. Pin point placement of the ball in the space of about a foot in minute 51. 1-0.
Later, DiMaria was the passer, and it was Banagas’ turn and placed the ball almost exactly in the same spot as DiMaria, the goalie apparently being vulnerable guarding the post he needed to guard, but without success. Argentina justified its top world ranking as did Chile did its ranking also. Chile played valiantly until the end, but never found the way to a goal until the game was already won in extra time. Final score, Argentina 2, Chile 1.
Fortunately, both will most likely go through to the quarterfinal round as they play Bolivia and Panama, two weak sisters in their next two games. In the other game, Panama beat Bolivia 2-1.