With no European football to keep me going and the majority of the transfer rumours turning into long, drawn out sagas, I turned my attention across continents and got my football fix from the 2011 Copa America tournament.
The tournament itself was a bit of a disappointment. The big two, Argentina and Brazil, crashed out with a whimper and many of the big players failed to show. However, there was still some great talent on show and, following Uruguay’s deserved final victory over Paraguay, the best team of the tournament won.
With many of the big names under performing, the team of the tournament was very interesting to pick so here are the stand out players of the Copa America 2011:
GK: This position has to go to Paraguay shot stopper Justo Villar (Paraguay). Any team that manages to make the final without a win, relying on three 0:0 draws on route must have a solid goalkeeper. 34 year old Villar, who plays his club football in Argentina for Estudiantes after a three year spell at Valladolid used all his experience to keep his team in many games. This was the case in Paraguay’s tough quarter final match against Brazil. Villar pulled off saves from Lucio and Ganso to keep his team in the game and a stunning match winning save from a Alexandre Pato strike proved that it wasn’t going to be Brazil’s day.
DL: Alvaro Pereira (Uruguay) showed his versatility for Uruguay and sometimes played in midfield but full back is his natural position at club level with FC Porto. One of the players of the tournament, he dragged Uruguay through a dissapointing group-stage with a great goal in the 1:1 draw with Chile and the match winner against Mexico. He continued his form in the semi final against Peru and performed well on the biggest stage during the final. After a successful spell at CFR Cluj he joined Porto in 2009 and on the back of this tournament a move to one of Europe’s elite wouldn’t be a bad bet.
DC: Any team looking for an old fashioned, no nonsense central defender should look no further. Diego Lugano (Uruguay) was untouchable at the back for Uruguay throughout the tournament and his aggressive style of play complimented Uruguay’s fluid movement and style elsewhere on the pitch. Had a quiet final and semi final, but was given little to do and passed the more difficult tests against Mexico and Chile with flying colours.
DC: Oswaldo Vazcarrondo (Venezuela) Almost unheard of on this continent as he has never played outside of South America. The 27 year old now plays for Deportivo Anzoajtegui in his home nation of Venezuela but if this tournament is anything to go by then his ability and talent is being wasted. Really came into his own against Brazil when his sensational online block earned his team a very valuable point. Outstanding performances against Chile and Paraguay followed to cement his place in this team.
DR: This was the most difficult position to fill as many of the better known right sided defenders of the tournament underperformed. Gabriel Cichero (Venezuela) was pretty solid at the back throughout the tournament however, and worked well with the sensational Vizcarrondo. Quiet but solid throughout the group stages, he came alive in the knockout rounds and was brilliant going forward yet solid at the back against Chile and Paraguay.