x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Uruguay stand alone as favourites to win Copa America

Of South America's five 2010 World Cup teams, only Uruguay and Paraguay remain in the Copa America semi-finals after a round of shocks.

Brazil players trudge off the pitch dejected following their shoot-out defeat to Paraguay.
Brazil players trudge off the pitch dejected following their shoot-out defeat to Paraguay.

Of South America's five 2010 World Cup teams, only Uruguay and Paraguay remain in the Copa America semi-finals after a round of shocks.

The favoured team in each tie was knocked out, with Brazil and Chile, who both went to South Africa, departing the competition on Sunday night to join Argentina and Colombia.

With hosts Argentina beaten by Uruguay on penalties on Saturday, Brazil missed a golden chance to take advantage for their biggest rivals' slip-up, and take a step toward making it three Copa wins in succession, when they too were beaten in a shoot-out, by Paraguay.

"After the way we played today, I've never seen a more unfair result in my entire career," Ramires, the Brazil midfielder, said after his side dominated Paraguay, but failed to put the ball in the net.

Tonight, Uruguay face Peru in the first of the semi-finals. Given that Oscar Tabarez's team reached the World Cup last four a year ago, they start as strong favourites. Add to the mix a strike force of Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) and Edinson Cavani (Napoli), if fit, and it is easy to see why they are now fancied to lift the trophy.

Peru, ranked 49th in the world, are in the semi-finals for the first time since 1983. They upset Colombia with a 2-0 win on Saturday.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president who is preparing for chemotherapy treatment in Cuba, congratulated his country's team on Twitter after they set up a semi-final with Paraguay by upsetting Chile 2-1 on Sunday night. "Glory to the brave people! Let's pay supreme tribute to our boys from the Glorious Vinotinto [the team nickname]," Chavez tweeted.

"Viva Venezuela! Oh what a goal. Bravo Venezuela," tweeted an exuberant Chavez at half time after Vizcarrondo's opener.

Cesar Farias, the coach, said they are underdogs for tomorrow's semi-final. "Paraguay are a strong team and they will start favourites." It is also the first time since 1989 that Paraguay have reached the final four.

Meanwhile, Mano Menezes, the Brazil coach, said his team's elimination from the Copa America will not derail the hosts' preparations for the 2014 World Cup.

Menezes said he likes how Brazil improved during the South American competition despite their elimination by Paraguay.

"Brazil will not be stumbling in 2014. It will be strong," said Menezes, who added that he is not worried about losing his job despite the negative reaction in Brazil.

* Compiled by The National staff, with agencies