Chile

Getty Images

Positive Alexis Sanchez injury update

Leave a comment

Manchester United expect to have Alexis Sanchez fit and raring to go for the start of their 2019-20 Premier League season.

The Chilean forward, 30, scored twice and played pretty well for Chile at the Copa America in Brazil over the past few weeks.

However, he did suffer a hamstring injury in their 2-1 defeat to Argentina in the third-place match on Saturday.

Speaking from United’s preseason tour in Australia, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Sanchez will be fit enough for the latter stages of preseason.

“I don’t think Alexis’s injury was too bad,” Solskjaer said. “When he’s due back is three weeks after his last game, so that will be just after we come back from tour. I would expect him to be fit enough to play straightaway and train straightaway.”

So, there you have it.

United are spending the next few weeks in Australia, Singapore and then China before heading back to Europe to end their preseason slate of games.

Sanchez was also going to miss the Far East and Australia portion of this trip, but it is a little disappointing he will not get a full rest and then a full preseason to impress Solskjaer.

Then again, he had the entire summer off this time 12 months ago and that didn’t really work out that well for him, did it?

Sanchez has a huge season ahead to try and resurrect his career which has stalled badly since joining United on a huge contract 18 months ago. He has scored just three PL goals in 32 appearances for United, compared to his 60 in 122 PL games for Arsenal. There were some reports he could leave United this summer, but there don’t seem to be many suitors out there after his form dipped badly and especially given the astronomical contract he signed in January 2018.

For him to be worthy of the reported $625,000 per week contract he’s on, he probably has to score at least 15 goals and add 10 assists in the Premier League alone this season. Considering he will battle it out with Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial just for playing time, that’s a big ask.

But, as has always been the case with Sanchez since he arrived at Old Trafford, we know there’s a superstar play in there somewhere.

Now is the time for him to rest up and be ready for the final weeks of preseason as United have a favorable run of games to start the new season.

If United, and Sanchez, can hit the ground running, Solskjaer has a decent chance of turning things around as the Red Devils push for the top four.

Imagine the damage a fully-fit, and focused, Sanchez could do alongside Martial and Rashford…

Copa America team of the tournament announced

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The 2019 Copa America team of the tournament has been announced, and Lionel Messi hasn’t been included in the best XI.

Hmm. I wonder why…

Messi slammed CONMEBOL officials and referees for “corruption” and said the tournament was “fixed” for Brazil to win it.

That led to South America’s governing body releasing a statement defending its officials and a ban is likely coming up for Mr. Messi. So, yeah, he’s not in the team of the tournament and his one goal in six games could also suggest why that was the case.

The Selecao did win the tournament, beating surprise finalists Peru 3-1 in the final, as the hosts were dominant throughout.

Five Brazilian players feature in the team of the tournament with Alisson, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Arthur and Everton all included. But Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino both had very good tournaments for the hosts, while Alexis Sanchez also had his moments before he suffered an injury.

Peru’s Miguel Trauco and Paolo Guerrero were also in the best XI, while James Rodriguez from Colombia, Leandro Paredes from Argentina, Chile’s Arturo Vidal and Uruguay’s Jose Gimenez are all the lone representatives from their nations.

Below is the team of the tournament in full.


2019 Copa America Team of the Tournament

Goalkeeper: Alisson
Defenders: Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Jose Gimenez, Miguel Trauco
Midfielders: Arthur, Arturo Vidal, Leando Paredes
Forwards: Everton, James Rodriguez, Paolo Guerrero

Messi: Copa America ‘corrupt’ and ‘fixed’ for Brazil

Getty Images
2 Comments

Lionel Messi received his first red card in 14 years on Saturday, and it was just the second of his glittering career.

The Argentina and Barcelona star didn’t accept his sending off quietly. At all.

Speaking to reporters after Argentina beat Chile 2-1 to seal third place at the 2019 Copa America in Brazil, Messi revealed that he believes the referees and CONMEBOL aren’t being fair and that everything is set up for Brazil to win the final against Peru on Sunday.

“We don’t have to be part of this corruption,” Messi said. “They have showed us a lack of respect throughout this tournament. Sadly, the corruption, the referees, they don’t allow people to enjoy football, they ruined it a bit. I think the cup is fixed for Brazil. I hope that the VAR and the referees have nothing to do in this final and that Peru can compete because they have the team to do so although I think it’s difficult.”

Messi’s lost his cool along with Chile’s Gary Medel in a heated confrontation which involved plenty of shoulder barging, but both players deserved probably a yellow card each and a stern talking too. The red card was harsh and Messi is feeling rightly aggrieved.

But he seems to have taken it a little too far with these comments, as a statement from CONMEBOL (which didn’t name Messi directly) said that “unfounded accusations have been launched that lack the truth and question the integrity of the Copa America. These accusations represent a lack of respect for the competition, all the participating players and the hundreds of professionals of CONMEBOL.”

You can’t help but feel that over 15 years of close calls, and ultimate failure, for Argentina are weighing heavy on Messi’s shoulders. They’ve now lost in a World Cup final, three Copa America finals and a Copa America semifinal with Messi, who has come out of international retirement, as their main main.

Until he wins some silverware on the international stage, those questions will always be asked about how good he actually was compared to Pele, Diego Maradona and even Cristiano Ronaldo who have all led their nations to silverware.

Messi, 32, probably has one last crack at winning the World Cup with Argentina in 2022 before he calls it quits. The clock is ticking and Messi is feeling the pressure, with his presence at the 2020 Copa America, joint hosted by Argentina and Colombia, now far from certain after this outburst.

Messi sent off for first time in 14 years for… this?!?

EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images
5 Comments

It was the rematch many wanted, just not in the appropriate venue.

Argentina and Chile met for placement in their third-straight Copa America, but this time it was for third place and not the final.

So, in an odd twist for a third-place game, the greatest player in the world was sent off for the first time in 14 years.

[ MORE: USMNT-Mexico preview ]

Tempestuous early and then firmly in Argentina’s hands at 2-0 after less than 22 minutes, the match hit a new flashpoint as Messi and Gary Medel were both sent off the pitch by referee Mario Diaz de Vivar after a perceived head-to-head incident between the Argentine captain and Chile’s hatchet man.

It was Messi’s first red since an Argentina friendly against Hungary on Aug. 17, 2005. He has never been sent off for Barcelona.

And are we being naive if we say the twin red cards were awarded for a whole lot of nothing? Astoundingly, VAR reportedly had a look at the fouls and said, “Yeah, sure. Keep it.” You be the judge:

 

Chile won as hosts in 2015 as well as in the United States-based 2016 Centenario, both after 0-0 results led to penalty kicks.

The 0-0 was eliminated early on Saturday, as Lionel Messi took a quick free kick to Sergio Aguero. The Man City man danced around the keeper to slot for 1-0.

This turn from Dybala, however is the real beauty. Spurs target Giovanni Lo Celso slid a pass between two defenders, and his Juventus receiver brought the ball in front of him with perfect touch.

Chile feeling rejuvenated in search for third straight Copa America crown

Getty Images
1 Comment

With all eyes on Tuesday’s heavyweight bout between Brazil and Argentina, Chile is pumping its chest as two-time defending Copa America champions, but there’s an unexpected feeling of rebirth around the aging squad as well.

Alexis Sanchez, who struggled through last season at Manchester United, has suddenly returned to form at the competition with a pair of goals and an assist. According to Chile head coach Reinaldo Rueda, there’s one secret ingredient Sanchez is missing at Manchester United which has seen him back to his best this summer.

“Love,” Rueda tabbed as the special sauce in his pre-match press conference. “In the national team and because of the attention they receive, the players don’t want to leave. Despite not playing for their clubs, they come here with commitment and forge a strong group.”

Rueda pointed to others in the South American competition who struggled at their clubs this season and are experiencing a rebirth at the Copa America. “That’s why players like [Barcelona’s Philippe] Coutinho, [Real Madrid’s] James [Rodriguez], or Alexis, who didn’t have a great season, become themselves again with the national team.”

Midfielder Arturo Vidal is on board with that mentality, motivated not only by the camaraderie among the players and adoration fromt he fans, but the goal in front of them: a historic third straight Copa America.

“We want to leave our legacy as triple champions, that’s our dream,” Vidal said. “That’s why we want to play our best match of the Copa against Peru. It would be something historic for us to get to the final and that’s our aim.”

Argentina is the only country to ever win three straight Copa America titles, securing it between 1945-47. Even as Uruguay and Argentina dominated South America in the 1910’s, 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s and the competition was held on a more regular basis, it was still difficult to sustain repeated success.

As Chile meets a Peru side that held Uruguay off the scoresheet before winning on penalties, the old guard in Sanchez, Vidal, Jean Beausejour, Mauricio Isla and captain Gary Medel – all over the 30-year-old mark – has to continue tapping into its youthful edge to attain a period of domination unmatched in over 70 years.