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Welcome to our special coverage of the Copa América, which is happening in Brazil from June 14 to July 9. We’ve got five players appearing for four different countries in this year’s South American showdown: Leo Messi (Argentina), Luis Suárez (Uruguay), Arturo Vidal (Chile) and Arthur Melo and Philippe Coutinho (Brazil).
Saturday 29 June
Peru upset Uruguay
Uruguay are out of the Copa América after losing to Peru on penalties after the 90 minutes had ended without score. And there was additional heartbreak for Luis Suárez, as it was his missed penalty, the first of the shootout and the only one not to go in, that proved fatal for the side that’s been crowned champions of South America more times than any other.
Not this time though, and VAR had a lot to do with the evening’s proceedings, with Uruguay having no fewer than three goals, one for Suárez, all referred to the video referee and all overturned for offside.
Uruguay go home, and Arturo Vidal and Chile will instead be meeting Peru to decide who meets the winner out of Brazil and Argentina in the grand final.
Suárez looking to join his club colleagues in the last four
The last quarter final sees Uruguay take on Peru, with Luis Suárez looking to join all of his club colleagues in the semi-finals. Should they emerge victorious, it would set up a last four clash against Arturo Vidal's Chile, and see a repeat of the group game in which Uruguay prevailed thanks to Edinson Cavani's late winner.
Friday 28 June
Chile into the semi-finals
After an extremely hard-fought 90 minutes, Chile and Colombia still couldn't be separated. Extra-time saw no goals either, so a nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out would decide who would progress into the semi-finals. Arturo Vidal had scored Chile's first spot-kick, with everything still level at four penalties each before William Tesillo missed Colombia's fifth penalty. Former Barça player, Alexis Sánchez, scored his to ensure La Roja will play either Uruguay or Peru for a place in the final against Argentina or Brazil.
Time for Arturo
The top half of the draw has worked out nicely for our Barça representatives, with Brazil and Argentina earning passage to the semis. Now it's time to see what happens in the bottom half, where we could potentially have another Barça v Barça clash. Arturo Vidal and Chile take on the impressive Colombia, the only side to win all three of their group games, in Sao Paulo at 8.00pm local, 1.00am CEST.
“We never dream of success, but we have always worked for it" says the Barça star on Twitter. Profound statement.
Luis Suárez and Uruguay face Pero on Saturday in the last of the quarter finals.
Brazil versus Argentina in the semi-finals
Argentina have beaten Venezuela 2-0 at the Maracaná to progress to the semi-finals of the Copa América thanks to goals from Lautaro Martínez and Lo Celso. Barça’s Leo Messi played the full ninety minutes and the reward is an enticing semi-final against Brazil, featuring Philippe Coutinho and Arthur, to be played in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday at 9.30pm local time, 2.30am Wednesday morning CEST.
The game saw Argentina lunge into attack right from the start and the game was just ten minutes old when Martínez put them a goal to the good, a scoreline that held until half-time despite the best Argentine intentions to expand on their lead.
Betis star Lo Celso finally bagged the albiceleste second after 74 minutes, and that was enough to ensure that they march into the final four of a competition they are looking to win for the first time since 1993.
Thursday 27 June
Brazil beat Paraguay on penalties
Brazil are through to the semi-finals of the Copa América but did it the hard way, beating Paraguay on penalties at the Arena do Gremio after the game had ended without score. The host nation also had to play from the 58th minute onwards with a man less following the sending off of Fabián Balbuena. Arthur and Coutinho of Barça were on for the whole game, the matter converting one of the penalties.
Speaking afterwards, midfielder Arthur spoke to the media after the game, saying that "we created a lot of chances. The fans were right behind us and we fought hard to the end … This qualification was a boost for our confidence. Now we can relax and start thinking about our next game.”
Wednesday 26 June
Here's the line-up for the quarter finals, and the good news is that there's Barça involvement in all four games!
Thursday 27 June: Brazil v Paraguay (Porto Alegre, 9.30pm local, 2.30am CEST)
Friday 28 June: Venezuela v Argentina (Rio de Janeiro, 4.00pm local, 9.00pm CEST)
Friday 28 June: Colombia v Chile (Sao Paulo, 8.00pm local, 1.00am CEST)
Saturday 29 June: Uruguay v Peru (Salvador, 4.00pm local, 9.00pm CEST)
So, it means a return to the famous Maracana for Leo Messi. It'll be the third time he has played at the legendary venue - and he'll be hoping for better fortunes than the last time he was in Rio.
Monday 24 June
Uruguay top the group
As expected, the match between Chile and Uruguay was a real battle royale. Both sides conceded 18 fouls apiece, evidencing just how physical a 90 minutes this was. Though Chile slightly edged possession, Uruguay's greater fire power eventually told, with Edinson Cavani scoring the only goal in the 82nd minute. Luis Suárez played the full 90 minutes, whilst Arturo Vidal was an unused substitute for Chile. Uruguay now meet Peru in the quarter-finals whilst Chile face Colombia.
The final group stage games take place on Monday. One of them sees Chile's Arturo Vidal face to face with Uruguay's Luis Suárez, with the winner topping Group C. With only three goals conceded between the two sides, it promises to be a titanic tussle. Kick-off is at 7.00pm (local time), 00.00 CEST.
Sunday 23 June
They were made to work hard by Qatar at times, but thanks to goals Colombia's slender 1-0 win over Paraguay and goals from Lautaro Martínez (min 4) and Sergio Agüero (min 82), Argentina qualified for the quarter-final stage of the Copa América.
It was a one-sided affair for the most part, with La Albiceleste making all of the running and having 18 shots at goal compared to Qatar's four. Chances were squandered with alarming regularity but Argentina finally settled down once Agüero found the net. The win sees Messi and Co. edging one step closer to a longed-for title.
Lionel Messi returns to action with Argentina this evening, as La Albiceleste go looking for the win over Qatar which would give them hope of qualifying second in Group B, providing Colombia can also stop Paraguay from winning. Should Paraguay take all three points, then Argentina will be looking to qualify for the quarter finals as one of the two best third-placed teams. Any result other than an Argentina win will see them knocked out at the group stage.
Saturday 22 June
Brazil power onwards
Brazil romped to a 5-0 win against Peru, Philippe Coutinho playing for 77 minutes and Arthur Melo for the entire match. The win sees the hosts end the group stage without conceding a goal, and finishing top of Group A with 7 points.
The final group games begin today, with Arthur Melo and Philippe Coutinho expected to be in action for Brazil as they take on Peru (Corinthians Arena, KO 8.00 pm (local) 1.00 am CEST). Both teams are on four points at the top of Group A, so this match is a straight shoot out to top the group.
Friday 21 June
Former Barça player, Alexis Sánchez, scored the winner for Chile against Ecuador (2-1) to guarantee their qualification into the quarter finals. José Pedro Fuenzalida had opened the scoring for La Roja before Enner Valencia equalised from the penalty spot. Sánchez's winner came five minutes after half-time.
Arturo Vidal played the full 90 minutes but had to be taken off in stoppage time after a rash challenge from Ecuador's Gabriel Achilier earned him a straight red card.
Game two for Chile
Arturo Vidal and Chile are back in action today (Salvador, KO 8.00 pm (local) 1.00 am CEST) as they look to become the second team (after Colombia) to guarantee qualification for the quarter finals.
They’re up against Ecuador, who lost 4-0 to Uruguay in their opening fixture while Chile won by the same score against Japan.
Thursday 20 June
Suárez: Bittersweet feeling
Luis Suárez spoke to the press after the 2-2 with Uruguay. “Generally we played well” he reckoned. “But in tournaments like these, if you make mistakes they’ll score two goals. We’re going to have to be more careful.”
“We knew it would be a tricky game. The Chile score was misleading because Japan created a lot of chances. They’re quick, young, quality players. They put us under pressure and stopped us from playing our game.”
“We need to correct errors and highlight the positives. We created the clearest chances, so it’s a bittersweet feeling.”
Uruguay 2-2 Japan
Luis Suárez and Uruguay drew 2-2 with Japan in their second game in Group C. Despite concerns over his fitness following surgery, the Barça player was able to play the full 90 minutes and as well as converting a penalty, also hit the crossbar twice and very nearly scored from the halfway line with an audacious attempt in practically the first move of the game.
But Japan, with a very young side that are mainly using the competition as preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, twice took the lead through Getafe’s Koji Miyoshi, and the celeste ended up having to settle for a single point.
A win would have assured Uruguay of a place in the quarter finals, while a draw means they top the group for now, with Chile and Ecuador yet to play their second game, and are still well poised to advance.
Game two for Uruguay
Attention now switches to Group C, where Luis Suárez’s Uruguay take on guest nation Japan today (Porto Alegre, KO 8.00 pm (local) 1.00 am CEST). After a 4-0 defeat of Ecuador in their opening game, things are hunky dory in the Uruguay camp, and another win today would make sure of their place among the last eight.
The press is full of stories about Suárez’s weight. As the player himself said, he has lost 3 kilos since his operation, mainly thanks to a diet of fruit and vegetables combined with poultry instead of the red meat that Uruguayans are so famously fond of.
Chile are also in Group C, but Arturo Vidal’s side don’t play their second game, against Ecuador, until tomorrow. Looking back the 4-0 win against Japan in their opening game, the Barça player commented that "I’m happy with the start because we scored goals and we’ve struggling in that department recently. We need Alexis (Sánchez) and Eduardo (Vargas) scoring goals because that boosts our confidence as a team.
“We needed to get off on the right foot – we want to defend our title as well as we can.”
Wednesday 19 June
Messi: Madness not to qualify
As he did after the Colombia game, Messi spoke at length to the press following Argentina’s game.
"We’re in a difficult situation” he admitted. “There are young players who have never been through this kind of thing. We need to raise ourselves and think that we need to beat Qatar to qualify … We need to improve but we don’t have much time.”
“In the first 15 minutes we had the ball and clear ideas but failed to create chances. Then they scored and gained confidence while we got nervous. After scoring the penalty I felt we could go on to win it.”
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy to come to the Copa América. We’re still looking for a team that works. Venezuela made things hard for Brazil – these days the shirt isn’t enough to win games, you have to get everything right. It would be madness for us not to qualify.”
Messi scores as Argentina and Paraguay draw 1-1
Argentina, who lost to Colombia in their opening fixture, have been held to a 1-1 draw with Paraguay in their second game, with Leo Messi scoring a 57th minute penalty after Richard Sánchez had put the Paraguayans into the lead before the break.
Not the best of results for Argentina, for whom it could have been worse had Franco Armani not saved a penalty. The albiceleste now have to beat Qatar in their final game to avoid shock elimination, which should be enough to ensure that they are among the best third-placed teams progressing to the quarter finals.
Messi back in action
After 2-0 defeat to Colombia in their opening game, Argentina return to action today against Paraguay (Belo Horizonte, KO 9.30 pm (local) 2.30 am CEST). Their opponents drew 2-2 with Qatar in their first match, meaning Leo Messi’s side are currently bottom of the group, so it’s essential that they get something out of this fixture.
Tuesday 18 June
Venezuela hold the hosts
Arthur and Coutinho both played the full 90 of Brazil’s second game at the Copa América, but despite dominating the possession and the chances, the hosts were unable to break the Venezuela net.
At one point it looked like Coutinho had scored his third goal of the tournament, but VAR revealed an earlier Roberto Firmino handball and the goal was disallowed.
Despite the setback, Brazil still top the group and are strongly poised to advance to the quarter finals. A point against Peru in their final game will make sure of that.
Monday 17 June
Vidal features in Chile opener
Champions Chile began their defence of the Copa América with a 4-0 win over Japan, in which Arturo Vidal played 78 minutes before being subbed off for Pablo Hernández. His country opened the scoring just before half time, with a further three goals in the second period. Up next for Chile is a meeting with Ecuador on Matchday 2.
Arthur clears up 'misunderstanding'
Comments made by Arthur Melo this week about his greater freedom for Brazil than for Barça caused a minor stor this week, but the midfielder has made it clear that his words were taken out of context.
“Brazil and Barcelona have two different styles at the moment, they are two different teams with different tactics,” he said. “I am adapting to both systems and can play in one or the other without any problem. The biggest difference is that at Barcelona I start to build plays higher up ... with Brazil I start further back. There’s not one way that’s right and the other wrong. I didn’t mean to say that at Barcelona I don’t feel good.”
Sunday 16 June
Luis Suárez scored one and assisted another as Uruguay beat Ecuador 4-0 in their Copa América opener. Lodeiro, Cavani and an own goal from Mina were the other scorers. Uruguay's next match will be on Friday June 21 against Japan (8.00pm local time, 01.00am Saturday CEST).
Suárez discusses fitness ahead of Uruguay opener
So after a good start for Brazil and a bad start for Argentina, the next Barça man to begin his Copa Amèrica adventure is Luis Suárez as Uruguay take on Ecuador (Belo Horizonte, KO 7.00 pm (local) 0.00 am CEST) in a group that also includes Arturo Vidal's Chile.
Sporting a new hairstyle, Suárez addressed the media ahead of the game and the questions also touched on Barça matters in connection with his recent operation. "I don't know what would have happened if we had reached the Champions League Final" he confessed. "I don't know if I would have been ready in time. I don't know if I would have had the operation or not. I have no idea, but I probably would have because I was in a bad way. People don't usually know what a fractured meniscus means, but it's impossible to play with football when it's broken."
Arturo Vidal speaks to the media
Chile get their campaign started on Monday against Japan, and Barça's Arturo Vidal has discussed his team's ambitions as they chase a third South American title in a row.
"This squad should be feared, from the beginning to the final. We hope it’s going to be something amazing, but we’re going to take it game by game” he said in Sao Paulo, venue of the game with the guest Asian nation.
"We hope to win that beautiful trophy. It's important to focus on each match but we're going to be under pressure from the first minute. We know we've got a lot of new players but we're only thinking about winning the Copa, not qualifying for the World Cup."
Argentina 0-2 Colombia
Argentina and Leo Messi lost to Colombia, 2-0, in their first match of the Copa América group stage. Second half goals from Martínez and Zapata handed the three points to Colombia.
The Barça star spoke to the media for over half an hour after the loss... "We didn't want to start this way" he said. "But now we have to lift our heads and keep going. We have to win against Paraguay. That allows us to decide our qualification against Qatar."The Barça star spoke to the media for over half an hour after the loss... "We didn't want to start this way" he said. "But now we have to lift our heads and keep going. We have to win against Paraguay. That allows us to decide our qualification against Qatar."
"But we are up for the fight. We are ready to accept the challenge. There is not time to complain, we have to look forward."
Saturday 15 June
Leo Messi will make his debut in the competition on Saturday night as Argentina take on Colombia in Salvador, KO 7.00pm (local) 0.00 am CEST. The last time La Albiceleste lost against this particular opponent came way back in 2007 during World Cup qualifying. Since then, Argentina have won five of the fixtures between the sides with the other two ending as draw.
Friday 14 June
Brazil 3-0 Bolivia - Coutinho at the double!
After a difficult first 45 against the Bolivians which ended goalless, hosts Brazil came out with more purpose in the second half. Within five minutes the Seleção were awarded a penalty which was drilled home by Philippe Coutinho, and the Barça man doubled the lead just two minutes later. Substitute, Everton Soares, added a third five minutes from time.
Luis Suárez press conference
After missing the 2015 edition through suspension and a hamstring injury meaning he never got to play at the Copa América Centenario either, Luis Suárez is looking forward to finally playing at the tournament for the first time since 2011. He’s had injury problems this time too, and told a press conference today that he is aware that, much as he’d loved to play the full 90 of every game that “I’ll need to take things as they come, I haven’t played a full game for a month.”
“I have high hopes for myself and the team, but I know how difficult the Copa América is. But I’m look forward to it and representing my country.”
Brazil would appear to the team he most fears, even without his former colleague Neymar, who misses the tournament through injury. “But they have Willian who’s doing amazing at Chelsea, which goes to show what a team they have.”
Brazil face Bolivia in opening game
The competition gets under way today with host nation Brazil facing Bolivia. One hundred years have passed since Brazil first won this title in 1919, but with a total of eight championship victories altogether, La Canarinha trail Argentina (14) and Uruguay (15) in the all-time stakes.
Speaking ahead of the Copa América opener, Philippe Coutinho admitted that “my performances this season have not been as good as I expected. The only way to improve and gain confidence is through hard work, and I have been working hard.”
Indeed, his team-mate Thiago Silva reckons that “In the two friendlies we played [a 2-0 win against Qatar and a 7-0 trouncing of Honduras] he was the best player on the pitch, not only because of passes and goals but also with his defence. He is finding his joy again.”
The venue for this year's final is the legendary Maracana in Rio de Janeiro - which hosted the World Cup Finals in 1950 and 2014. And here to show us around, we have none other than Barça and Brazil legend José Edmlison...
Ronaldo's masterclass in 1997, Leo Messi's debut and the time he came on as a substitute to bang in a hat-trick, Claudio Bravo's back-to-back titles for Chile... Plenty of historical anecdotes and all the background details on Brazil 2019 are to be found in our special section - all the info you need is just one click away...
So, who are the best South American players that have appeared for Barça over the years? Let us know as you vote for our Barça/Conmebol all-star XI!
Think you're a bit of an expert on the Copa América? Let's find out how much you reallly know with our A to Z quiz!
Here's a list of when each of our players are action in the group stage. Remember, there are three groups of four teams (with Asian sides Japan and Qatar appearing as invited guests), and the top two from each group plus the two best third placed teams progress to the quarter finals.
ARGENTINA: Leo Messi
Saturday 15 June: Colombia (Salvador, KO 7.00 pm (local) 0.00 am CEST)
Wednesday 19 June: Paraguay (Belo Horizonte, KO 9.30 pm (local) 2.30 am CEST)
Sunday 23 June: Qatar (Porto Alegre, KO 4.00 pm (local) 9.00 am CEST)
BRAZIL: Philippe Coutinho, Arthur Melo
Friday 14 June: Bolivia (Sao Paulo, KO 9.30 pm (local) 2.30 am CEST)
Tuesday 18 June: Venezuela (Salvador, KO 9.30 pm (local) 2.30 am CEST)
Saturday 22 June: Peru (Sao Paulo, KO 4.00 pm (local) 9.00 pm CEST)
CHILE: Arturo Vidal
Monday 17 June: Japan (Sao Paulo, KO 8.00 pm (local) 1.00 am CEST)
Friday 21 June: Ecuador (Salvador, KO 8.00 pm (local) 1.00 am CEST)
Monday 24 June: Uruguay (Rio de Janeiro, KO 8.00 pm (local) 1.00 am CEST)
URUGUAY: Luis Suárez
Sunday 16 June: Ecuador (Belo Horizonte, KO 7.00 pm (local) 0.00 am CEST)
Thursday 20 June: Japan (Porto Alegre, KO 8.00 pm (local) 1.00 am CEST)
Monday 24 June: Chile (Rio de Janeiro, KO 8.00 pm (local) 1.00 am CEST)
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