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Brazil 1-1 Colombia takeaways: Uruguay awaits Brazil, Colombia tops Group D


Brazil 1-1 Colombia takeaways: Uruguay awaits Brazil, Colombia tops Group D

Brazil and Colombia closed out the Copa America group stage with the most tantalizing matchup of the tournament so far. Raphinha’s picture-perfect free kick in the 12th minute gave Brazil an early lead as the match quickly lived up to its billing, but Colombia found an equalizer through Daniel Munoz that allowed them to preserve an unbeaten group stage and retain first place in Group D.

Brazil will be left to wonder what could have been after what appeared to be a clear penalty shout for Vinicius Junior was denied by the referee shortly before Colombia’s goal.

Colombia flubbed a late chance at a winner, but the most impactful moment of the match may have come in just the seventh minute when Vinicius Jr was shown a yellow card that will keep him out of Brazil’s quarterfinal due to accumulation.

Jack Lang, Stu James and Thom Harris share their takeaways from Levi’s Stadium…

Was this the best match of the tournament so far?

We’ve been waiting for a game like this at the Copa America – two heavyweights going head to head – and it didn’t disappoint. It was edge-of-the-seat stuff from the first minute – breathless, intense and played like a knockout tie. Perhaps that was not surprising given what was at stake: a quarterfinal against Panama for the Group D winners and the unwelcome prospect of facing Uruguay for the runners up.

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Eder Militao heads the ball over Jhon Cordoba. (Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The game wasn’t always pretty – 17 fouls and four yellow cards in the first half alone – but that didn’t take anything away from a spectacle that was lit up by an outstanding Raphinha free-kick to give Brazil the lead. Colombia were still in the dressing room – Nestor Lorenzo’s side caught cold by Brazil’s electric start. That Colombia responded so well said everything about their quality as well as their resilience. It’s 26 games unbeaten now.

In that respect the game lived up to the hype – both teams had chances to snatch victory in the dying minutes – and there’s every possibility that we’ll be treated to a rematch in the semi-finals, given the way the draw works. Few neutrals will complain if that turns out to be the case.

Stuart James

On the money. Every time.

There’s something about the way James Rodriguez floats in a set-piece – strolling up the ball, flicking his foot to send it spinning towards the six-yard box, but hanging it in the air just long enough to keep the goalkeeper at bay – that makes it incredibly hard to resist.

He has created seven chances from set pieces already at the Copa America; only three players have created more opportunities of any kind, full-stop. And he would have had a third dead-ball assist in an enthralling first half against Brazil, if it weren’t for the ruthless geometry of VAR. You’ll often see him trotting from one side of the pitch to the other to take consecutive corners, but the fans are happy to wait.

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James Rodriguez takes a shot during the first half. (Photo: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)

There’s variety in Rodriguez’s set-piece armoury too. After eight minutes, the 32-year-old sent a wicked free-kick careering towards goal, only for it to glance off the crossbar and out of play. It’s a shame it was overshadowed by Raphinha’s effort barely five minutes on.

Then, from a crossing position, he suddenly switches technique; quickly closing his body to try to catch Alisson out. Of course, he very nearly did.

Even if he has lost a yard of pace, Rodriguez always feels like he’s a step ahead. Drifting around behind the two strikers – doing, essentially, whatever he likes – he makes this excellent Colombia side tick.

Thom Harris

How will Brazil cope without Vinicius Jr?

Four Brazil players were walking a disciplinary tightrope at kick-off and it did not take long for one of them to fall off it. There were just six minutes on the clock when James Rodriguez flicked the ball over the head of Vinicius Jr in midfield and collapsed in a heap. Vinicius looked flabbergasted when referee Jesus Valenzuela produced a yellow card — one that means he will now be suspended for Brazil’s quarterfinal date with Uruguay.

His absence is clearly a big deal. Vinicius is not just an excellent player; he is increasingly seen as this side’s talisman, the man teammates and fans look to when the going gets tough. His importance has only been accentuated by the indifferent form of Rodrygo, his Real Madrid colleague, who again struggled to make much of an impression here.

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Vinicius Junior reacts after receiving a yellow card. (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Dorival Júnior, then, has some tough calls to make. One option is to shift Rodrygo out to the left and play Endrick through the middle. Alternatively, there are few natural wingers that could swap straight in. Gabriel Martinelli and Pepe both enjoy playing on the left, but the most likely stand-in is probably Savinho, who did well in Brazil’s first two matches.

No single option is perfect. Rodrygo doesn’t offer the same speed and penetration as Vinicius out wide. Martinelli is out of form. Pepe is untested. Savinho is left-footed, so that would require a rejig of Brazil’s attacking patterns. Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Jack Lang

What’s next for each team?

Colombia vs. Panama — Saturday, July 6 at 5:00 p.m. ET (State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ)

Uruguay vs. Brazil — Saturday, July 6 at 9:00 p.m. ET (Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV)

What did the managers say?

Brazil’s Dorival Junior on Vinicius’ ban: “It happens. It was an important game and I wasn’t going to rest anyone. We started the game very well. It was very strange, the booking. It was the first challenge of the game. But people say we have to learn to play without our big stars, so now is the time. In certain moments, we won’t have important players. We’ve already lost Neymar. It’s a moment for other players to step up.”

Colombia head coach Nestor Lorenzo on Jefferson Lerma’s yellow card, which will rule him out of the quarterfinal against Panama: “It could have been avoided. It’s something that we’ve talked about a lot, a lot with the team. It’s the bitter note we take from today. There are instinctive reactions that we have to control in a different way.”

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(Top photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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