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Colombia downs Argentina 2-0 after big Messi miss

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A miserable opening 45 minutes gave way to a more exciting second half, and Roger Martinez came off the bench to win the day with a 71st minute stunner to give Colombia all three points in Bahia, supported by a late cherry on top from Duvan Zapata.

The goal came just minutes after Lionel Messi missed a golden opportunity to give Argentina the lead during a spell of serious possessional domination midway through the second half. Once again, the Argentinian collection of star forwards came up empty, a drought that continues to plague the side in big matches.

The first half, largely, was a physical mess with very few real chances on net. The possession was nearly even between the two sides, neither team registered a shot on target, and there were just five shots overall in the first half, including just one for Argentina.

Early on, Lionel Messi was at the heart of Argentina’s best chance as he delivered a stunning long ball forward for Sergio Aguero, but with David Ospina coming acres out of his net to challenge with a flying karate kick, the offside flag went up to end the chance. Colombia was dealt an early blow as Luis Muriel was forced off with an early thigh injury, replaced by Martinez in a move that would eventually prove critical.

Argentina suffered a near-disaster when Nicolas Otamendi delivered a dangerous back-pass to goalkeeper Franco Armani who sent it right back to his defender with both under heavy pressure, but they escaped just conceding a corner and it came to nothing for Colombia.

After the break, the game opened up a bit but there were still few chances on net. Messi nearly weaved his way through the entire Colombian defense, nutmegging Davinson Sanchez before Wilmar Barrios came in to cut the ball off, but the referee made a controversial decision not to award an illegal back-pass as Barrios then touched back to Ospina who collected in his arms. Instead, he showed a yellow card to Leandro Paredes for dissent after the action arguing his case.

The two teams burst into a scuffle when Messi was hacked down by Juan Cuadrado past the hour mark as Argentina began to grab hold of the game. Cuadrado received a yellow of his own and was withdrawn shortly thereafter. On the hour mark, Messi had a golden opportunity to give Argentina the lead, but as Paredes saw his effort saved, the rebound came to Messi but he headed wide right from point-blank range despite the goal gaping.

Minutes later Colombia took the lead through a simple yet stunning move as Martinez burst down the left and cut inside just outside the top of the penalty area, unleashing a fabulous strike that left a diving Armani with no chance as it buried into the side netting inside the far post.

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni somehow decided that 31-year-old Matias Suarez was the choice for a last throw of the dice off the bench, choosing the man with two prior international caps over the likes of Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez. Instead, Colombia went down the other end and eviscerated the Argentina defense with a vicious counter down the left as Roger Martinez combined with Jefferson Lerma. The latter crossed to the doorstep and Zapata – who came on just five minutes earlier for Radamel Falcao – somehow beat the napping center-back pairing of German Pezzella and Otamendi.

The win for Colombia gives them an early advantage in Group B, while Argentina can still rescue its situation with matches remaining against Paraguay and Qatar. The loss marks the third in Argentina’s last four competitive matches, with losses to France and Croatia in World Cup play prior to this defeat.

Watch Live: Copa America — Day 2

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Hosts Brazil kicked off the Copa America with a 3-0 defeat of Bolivia on Friday, and now it’s Argentina’s time to leave the runway.

Lionel Messi and Argentina meet Colombia in a 6 p.m. ET blockbuster in Salvador, Bahia. The match will go a long way toward determining who wins Group B.

[ LIVE: Watch every single Copa America game ]

That happens three hours after Salomon Rondon and Venezuela tries to ride momentum from a demolition of the USMNT into a Group A date with Peru at Porto Alegre.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

2019 Copa America schedule

Group A: Venezuela v. Peru – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group B: Argentina v. Colombia – 6 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Copa America preview: Can Messi’s men stop the hosts?

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Several massive names in CONMEBOL are looking at what could well be their final Copa America, beginning tonight in Brazil (Watch live on Telemundo Deportes).

And whereas Alexis Sanchez and Luis Suarez enter the competition knowing they’ve mastered it once or twice, the window is closing for Radamel Falcao, Sergio Aguero, and a man with the last name Messi.

[ STREAM: Copa America on Telemundo Deportes ]

That’s also true for most of the Brazil players aside from captain Dani Alves. The Selecao have not won the Copa America since 2007, and will be the favorites to lift the trophy on home soil.

Yes, even without Neymar, though his absence certainly allows Colombia and Argentina to claim somewhat equal footing in the favorites’ category.

Brazil’s status as hosts means winning Group A would allow them to avoid the Group B and C winners until the final. Group C, however, is a top-to-bottom bunch and it wouldn’t be surprise for it to sort itself in any permutation.

Group A

  1. Brazil
  2. Venezuela
  3. Peru
  4. Bolivia

This one is a battle for second, even without Neymar, and Venezuela’s showing against the United States was not simply a function of American dysfunction. Peru’s question remains in defense, and not being able to handle Salomon Rondon has us putting them third.

Group B

  1. Argentina
  2. Colombia
  3. Paraguay*
  4. Qatar

Messi and Co. will enjoy this draw, though both Paraguay and Colombia have the chance to give them fits. The Argentine megastar has the spotlight and the burden, though, as he’s yet to supply international honors to his nation and is coming off a disappointing end to his club season (team-wise, not player-wise, it should be noted).

Group C

  1. Uruguay
  2. Japan
  3. Chile*
  4. Ecuador

Where do you go here? Every country in this group is within 22 spots on the ELO ratings, from Uruguay’s 10th to Ecuador’s 32. Japan can tempt the heights of the group and tournament, but how quickly will it adjust to Brazil? The Asian nation finished fourth in manageable Group C at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, hammered 4-1 by Colombia in a must-win finale.

Knockout Rounds

Quarterfinals
Brazil defeats Chile
Colombia defeats Venezuela
Argentina defeats Japan
Uruguay defeats Paraguay

Semifinals
Brazil defeats Colombia
Argentina defeats Uruguay

Final
Brazil defeats Argentina

Copa America preview: Brazil on home soil, Messi’s last shot at (int’l) glory?

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For the first time in 30, the country of Brazil will host the Copa America when the 2019 edition kicks off on Friday. The pressure to win on home soil, as it was when Selecao hosted the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, will be immense.

[ MORE: Predicting the 2019 Gold Cup ]

For the first time in a long time, there is no clear-cut favorite. The best team in South America is anybody’s guess.

Tite’s Brazil was seen as a heavy favorite a couple weeks ago, but will now have to cope without its brightest superstar and captain, Neymar, after he suffered an ankle injury during a pre-Copa friendly against Qatar. Brazil can still be called slight favorites, with many thanks to the attacking duo of Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus, but more than a few defensive questions must be answered: most notably, does this veteran group of defenders, with just three of eight players under 30 years of age (an average of 58 international caps), have one more major tournament left in it?

All of the attention that will inevitably be paid to Brazil could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for some of the tournament’s other heavy hitters, particularly the two-defending champions from Chile. Lionel Messi and Argentina, who have reached four of the last five Copa finals (2004, 2007, 2015 and 2016) but lost each and every one of them, also fit that billing.

[ MORE: Premier League 2019-20 schedule announced ]

Chile hope to squeeze one last run out of the Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas and Gary Medel era, which is a slightly risky proposition given each of their injury histories and their slightly advanced ages (31 years on average). There’s also a small matter of who’ll start in goal: 31-year-old Gabriel Arias is the most experienced of the bunch, but he’s won just six caps in his career and has never played club soccer outside of South America.

Argentina, on the other hand, are about as inexperienced as a national team of their prestige could be. Messi, Angel di Maria and Sergio Aguero have 130, 97 and 90 caps to their names, respectively, followed by Nicolas Otamendi with 60. After them, Ramiro Funes Mori is the next-highest, with 25. 12 of the 23 players making up Lionel Scaloni’s squad have made single-digit appearances for the Albiceleste. Argentina’s last major trophy came at the 1993 Copa America, when Messi was six years old. Now 31 years old, the undisputed greatest player of all time might be down to his last (realistic) chance at winning a major tournament.

Colombia will again be the favorite pick as “dark horse,” but their route to a first major trophy since winning the 2001 Copa will be difficult: facing Messi and Co., in the two sides’ Group B opener on Saturday (6 p.m. ET). Japan and Qatar, the two non-South American teams invited to participate in 2019, will be fascinating wild cards as well.

What we’re saying is: Brazil and Argentina taking a small (or large) step back to the pack should make for one of the best editions of the Copa we’ve ever seen, and just about every game should be appointment television beginning with Friday’s curtain raiser between Brazil and Bolivia (8:30 p.m. ET).

Quick facts

Final date: July 7

Semifinal dates: July 2 and 3

Current holders: Chile (2015 and 2016)

Most titles: Uruguay (15), Argentina (14), Brazil (8), Chile (2), Paraguay (2), Peru (2)

Most goals: Zizinho and Norberto Mendez (17)

Most goals (active): Paolo Guerrero and Eduardo Vargas (11)

This weekend’s Copa America schedule

Friday

Brazil v. Bolivia — 8:30 p.m. ET

Saturday

Venezuela v. Peru — 3 p.m. ET
Argentina v. Colombia — 6 p.m. ET

Sunday

Paraguay v. Qatar — 3 p.m. ET
Uruguay v. Ecuador — 6 p.m. ET

Messi highest-paid athlete in the world

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Lionel Messi has been listed as the highest-earning athlete on the planet.

The Barcelona and Argentina star earned over $127 million in 2019, as the top three sportsmen in terms of earning were Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

It is the first time in the history of this list that three soccer stars have held the top three spots.

Forbes’ annual list of the top 100 highest-paid athletes in sport show that soccer stars feature heavily in the upper echelons, but plenty of superstars from the U.S. sporting realm make up the rest of the list. Serena Williams is the only women to feature in the top 100 with her earnings of $29.2 million, while Paul Pogba is the highest-ranked Premier League player as he ranks 44th with earnings of $33 million.

The American magazine calculated the earnings of athletes by adding their salary, endorsements and prize money from June 2018 to June 2019. Boxer Floyd Mayweather was top of the list last year, but has dropped out of it altogether.

Below is a look at the top 10 highest-paid athletes in sports over the past 12 months.


1. Lionel Messi $127 million
2. Cristiano Ronaldo $109 million
3. Neymar $105 million
4. Canelo Alvarez $94 million
5. Roger Federer $93.4 million
6. Russell Wilson $89.5 million
7. Aaron Rodgers $89.3 million
8. LeBron James $89 million
9. Stephen Curry $79.8 million
10. Kevin Durant $65.4 million