From July 1 to July 24, the Copa America, the world's oldest soccer tournament, will feature 12 Latin American teams who will battle it out for the top spot.
On Friday night, the largest soccer event in Latin American successfully kicked off for the 43rd time at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, where fans in attendance almost witnessed Bolivia upset the tournament's host and favorite Argentina. For majority of the match, Bolivia was able to neutralize Argentina's high-powered offense led by Lionel Messi.
After a scoreless first half, Bolivia stunned the Argentine crowd in the 47th minute when Edivaldo Rojas gave Bolivia a 1-0 lead when he successfully completed their corner kick.
Despite Argentina moving the ball better in the second half, Bolivia almost made it 2-0 in the 60th minute when Marcelo Moreno had a one on one showdown with Argentina's GK Sergio Romero. Fortunately for the Argentine crowd, Romero was able to able to make the critical save for Argentina.
In the 70th minute, Argentina coach Sergio Batista substituted Ezequiel Lavezzi for Sergio Aguero, son-in-law of former World Cup-winning idol and Argentina coach Diego Maradona. In the 76th minute, Aguero justified the substitution when he accepted a bounce pass from Nicolás Burdisso to level the score 1-1 when he blasted the ball past Bolivia's GK Carlos Arias.
For a team that features Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez, Argentina was in a position where on paper they should have never been in. They didn't capitalize on their opportunities and as a result, Bolivia for one night appeared to be a team that can compete with the best in the world.
As a result of Friday night's performance, Argentina will now have to endure the criticism from their supporters who will have no mercy on their national team. Considering that Copa America is being played in Argentina, their supporters expect victories and goals, not a sputtering offense that possesses two of the best players in the planet.
Now, Bolivia faces Costa Rica next Thursday, July 7 in Jujuy. Needing a victory, Argentina will face Colombia on Wednesday, July 6 in Santa Fe.
Here's a rundown of all 12 teams competing in the Copa America:
Group A: Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica
Group B: Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela
Group C: Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Mexico
For the latest updates and scores, you can go to their website: http://www.ca2011.com.
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for LatinoSports.com. He also writes for 5 Points Press & USSoccerPlayers.com ; your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. National Team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer.