Victory of the Week: Colombia Defeats Messi, Argentina in Copa America Opener

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIJune 16, 2019

Argentina's Lionel Messi reacts during a Copa America Group B soccer match at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Saturday, June 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

Victory of the Week is presented by Walmart.

Colombia opened their 2019 Copa America campaign with a 2-0 defeat of Argentina Saturday in Salvador, Brazil, marking Argentina's first ever loss in a Copa opener.

Argentina looked uninspired throughout their opening match of the tournament. The squad's form did not at all match the expectation surrounding them as they look to avenge their loss in the 2016 Copa final to Chile.

Any pressure put on Argentina can directly be linked to Lionel Messi, who has never won an international trophy. Against Colombia, Messi was held largely in check. 

Colombia looked the stronger side from the start, stringing together possession in the first half but failing to convert. The first goal came late in the second half with a perfectly placed pass from James Rodriguez across the field to Roger Martinez, who rocketed the ball into the far corner of the net in the 71st minute.

In the 86th minute, Duvan Zapata added an insurance goal when his sliding foot found the end of Jefferson Lerma's cross to completely discourage Argentina. 

The result holds particular importance as Colombia and Argentina will presumably be the two teams battling to make it out of their group shared with Paraguay and Qatar, which means the loss is a tough one for the Argentines.  

Argentina are looking to claim the most coveted trophy in South America for the first time since 1993, but things will have to vastly improve from this showing if they at all have a chance. 

"Same old problems for Argentina: Disjointed, no real support for Messi, Kun fighting for scraps, defenders exposed one vs one," football writer Rupert Fryer observed during the game.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni attempted to fix his disjointed lineup by pulling Angel Di Maria to start the second half in favor of Rodrigo de Paul. The adjustment did not prove fruitful in this match, but it gives Scaloni something to think about moving forward.

Colombia, meanwhile, only needed two shots on goal to win the game. Carlos Queiroz's side is looking to top the tournament for the first time since 2001. Beating Argentina for the first time in six meetings is a good place to start. 

Colombia's next group fixture is set for Wednesday against Qatar, while Argentina will also take the field Wednesday against Paraguay.

 

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