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Inspirational Markarian leads Peru to semi-finals

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Tim Vickery | 16:31 UK time, Sunday, 17 July 2011

At the time of writing there is the chance that Venezuela might make it two, but at the moment there is the certainty that one of the Copa America semi-finalists will be a team who missed out on last year's World Cup - and who missed out by the widest possible margin.

Peru finished bottom of the table in South America's 2010 qualifiers. They lost all nine away games, conceding 26 goals in the process. Their preparations for the current Copa were rocked by injuries, losing captain and centre forward Claudio Pizarro, highly talented support striker Jefferson Farfan and spiky Brazil-based midfielder Luis Ramirez - all first choice players - plus Jesus Rabanal, a strong candidate for the left back position. No other team in the Copa suffered such ill fortune. And yet here are Peru in the last four.

There is an easy explanation for such a sensational turn around. What a difference a coach makes!

Some will argue that the credit or the blame always belongs to the players, that the importance of coaches is over-stated, and so on. And, hardly surprisingly in such an insecure profession, some coaches are clearly prone to indulge in marketing antics aimed at exaggerating their own contribution. But the fact remains that in a team sport such as football they have a vital role to play.

Peru manager Sergio Markarian

Sergio Markarian has led Peru to their first Copa America semi-finals since 1997. Photo: Getty

Their functions are few, but fundamental. They need the technical knowledge to prepare and select the team. And they must have the human skills to set the emotional tone in which the work is carried out. There is a key point at which the technical and the human come together - that of convincing the players that the strategy chosen is the right one, and that if everyone follows their instructions then the chance of success - which can only be achieved collectively - is far greater.

The CV of current Peru boss Sergio Markarian shows that he has been able to perform this feat time and time again. He can even point to a victory away from home against a Jose Mourinho side - for Panathinaikos against Porto in the UEFA Cup. He may not be a household name in Europe - his experience in the continent is restricted to Greece. But he is hugely respected in South America.

Markarian was in at the start of the recent boom of Paraguayan football, grooming a group of youngsters through the Barcelona Olympics. Many of them were stalwarts in the senior side that he qualified for the 2002 World Cup, before being ludicrously replaced by the Italian Cesare Maldini.

His time in domestic Peruvian football is crowned by taking Sporting Cristal to narrow defeat in the final of the 1997 Copa Libertadores - no club from the country has come remotely close to emulating their achievement in the subsequent 14 years.

Markarian's track record meant that as soon as he was appointed as national team coach Peru's players felt the boost of knowing they were in good hands. They knew that he would not stand for the slipshod way that the local FA had been running the national team. And that, if they gave their all to his project, he would defend them against perhaps the most negative-minded, scandal-obsessed sporting press in South America. They also trusted him to sort out the defence.

"There's nothing beautiful about allowing the opponent to enjoy himself," he said after masterminding Saturday's 2-0 quarter final win over Colombia. Earlier this year he commented that he was "trying to build a team which plays in the attractive style that Peruvians like. But more important is a team efficient both home and away, that thinks it can win wherever the game is played. We have to increase the level of aggression in our marking, and not let the opponent play so much."

In the ten games of Markarian's reign going into the Copa, Peru conceded just 3 goals - and they have taken that defensive solidity into the tournament. Indeed, the attacking injuries his team have suffered has allowed the coach to concentrate all the more on keeping things tight, though with centre forward Paolo Guerrero wonderfully supported by the marauding Juan Manuel Vargas down the left, Peru have consistently offered a threat to the opposing goal.

"I want to go into the World Cup qualifiers (which start in October) in a position where the opponents have more respect for us," said Markarian a few months ago, "and for this the Copa America is perfect."

That mission has already been accomplished. But after Saturday's triumph Peru are hungry for more - which puts Markarian in an awkward position on Tuesday, when his team face Uruguay in the semi final.

Markarian is Uruguayan, with a strong sentimental attachment to the land of his birth and its national football team. He even decided to become a coach while watching Uruguay being humiliated by the great Holland side in the 1974 World Cup. His idea was to save the sky blues. Instead he will seek to plot their downfall, and add extra momentum to the remarkable resurgence of Peru.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

Q) I am a curious follower of the Chinese Super League primarily based on my nationality. The Manchester City-esque club of the CSL, Guangzhou Evergrande has been buying up pretty much any player that will join them and recently signed an unknown Argentine called Dario Conca on one of the highest wages in world football (I was wondering if you know much of this player at all and could shed some light on his abilities.
Charlie Jiang

A) He's a little left footed playmaker who's had a curious career. He didn't really make the grade in his native Argentina, picked up some momentum in Chile and then really came good in Brazil, especially last year with Fluminense, when he was key to their title win.

A good, perky little player, but not a great - he must be astonished to have been offered this kind of money. He's a shy type off the field, so adaptation is a concern. On the field he's a bit lightweight, but he's clever and crafty and rarely gets injured.

Q) Having just seen Corinthians bid £35m for former player Carlos Tevez, and players such as Neymar and Lucas being touted around for similar amounts, I'm just wondering where the sudden influx of revenue has come from, to allow for vast sums of money potentially exchanging hands?

It was only around 5 years ago that most Brazilians were virtually being shipped off by their clubs, for paltry sums to ply their trade in Europe. Is Football flourishing in Brazil or are clubs potentially heading for a meltdown?
Neil McGuire

A) Five years ago I could do everything in Rio - rent, bills, going out money - on £650 a month. Those were the days! Now those same things cost £2000 and rising.

The currency is very strong, and Brazil has been living a consumer-led boom. The country is huge, so a club like Corinthians can count its supporters in the tens of millions. Even if average crowds in Brazil are poor, millions of people identify themselves with Corinthians, making them attractive to sponsors wanting to reach this market, and also forcing up the amount of money the clubs receive in TV rights - a new deal will effectively double the money.

There are still problems to overcome - the domestic calendar is a farce, and despite the new flow of income, the clubs' debts are still rising. But the fact that Corinthians can offer a fee for Tevez is landmark moment.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I have managed to watch every match in the Copa this year and am really happy for Uruguay and Peru. Only my opinion but I would like to see Brazil knocked out today as I feel the Copa needs a different winner after 4 wins in 5 from Brazil. I am always amazed by the ignorance of people in the UK, I talk to them about South American Football, and the response I get often is "Its only got Brazil and Argentina who are any good, its all slow and fights".

    I nearly burst with these comments, surely Uruguay's 4th in the world cup last year and other strong performances from Chile and paraguay make people more aware.

    As well as this Copa with all teams tightly matched all proves that South American Football is closing up.

    Also watching this Copa and the Copa Lib and Arg & Brazil league games it has given me a great love for the South American game and I follow it closely.

    Also on the BBC Football website not one mention I could find about the Copa this year.

    Thanks Tim for your great Blog though each week.

  • Comment number 2.

    As Steven wrote above, it's pretty disgraceful that, your excellent blog aside, the BBC has pretty much totally ignored the existence of probably the second or third biggest international football tournament in the world.

    A cynic might suggest that it's because one of your rival broadcasters is televising it. If so, it's pathetic - and pretty awful that a publicly-funded national broadcaster would get involved in such petty politics. I think the football-loving licence-fee payers have a right to expect better.

    That said, keep up the good work Tim - always good reading.

  • Comment number 3.

    Great article - Peru have been underrated throughout this tournament, as you point out their defensive record has been excellent since Markarian took the helm (indeed 6 clean sheets in 6 friendlies leading up to the CA.) What a formidable side they could be if the issues/injuries with Farfan, Pizarro et al ever get resolved.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks for the blogs, I appreciate the insight into the football of the continent that provides the world's most fluent players. The small scale of Copa coverage is extremely disappointing, but this helps to fill the void!

    I've been cheering for Paraguay tonight (not that i've been able to watch) so was obviously delighted that they have won. Not a good performance from Brazil though.

    ps, if you are wondering why there are not many views/comments, the link from the bbc page is malformed, and needs engineering to get here!

  • Comment number 5.

    Well that's Menezes and Batista gone then.

    I went with Uruguay at the start of the tournament and I'll stick with them.

  • Comment number 6.

    In reference to the point about the bid by Corinthians for Carlos Tevez, Do you think there may come the day when Brazillian teams, maybe even possibly Mexican and American teams start buying top class players from Europe who are perhaps in their peak on a more regular basis rather than the Ronaldinhos, Adrianos and Elanos who have went abroad, done well, but waned dramatically.

    I think the idea of the continental super powers of North and South America being on a par spending wise both economically and commercially with the European clubs would only help the game, thus maybe creating a proper World Club Championship where the European team may not always be the favourite.

  • Comment number 7.

    I asked you a while back about Perú after watching the friendly against Panama when I was in Lima. I asked if they could even qualify for Brasil 2014 given their current form. Hats off Phil, you told me Markarain was the real deal.. and he's certainly proving it.

    It will be a tall order for them to beat Uruguay, but they did come within a whisker in the opening group game.. and both teams had to endure 120 mins in their quarter-finals.

    I'd like to see Peru get through, with Vargas coming back to full fitness I don't think I've seen a more influential player in the Copa this year.. he takes games by the scruff off the neck when all backs are against the wall. Guerrero doesn't look too shabby either, I was impressed with him vs Colombia because even when things weren't going his way he gave 100% for 120 mins and ended up laying on the goal for Vargas.

  • Comment number 8.

    Another point sorry, is anyone really surprised Brazil got beat when you look at their midfield? Lucas, Ramires and Ganso?

  • Comment number 9.

    Am I the only one to comment on the excellence of the BBC coverage of the Women's WorldCup? Shame it was bulldozed into BBC3... But main point for comment is to acclaim the marvelous Faye White on MOTD. If an Arsenal hasbeen gets time here, why not the marv FW on men's MOTD?

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm probably going to be moving to Peru in September, which should be exciting, especially in the light of this. If Peruvian football is on the rise, maybe I'll have something decent to watch while I'm there. Who are the big teams to look out for in Peru? I honestly know nothing whatsoever about Peruvian football.

  • Comment number 11.

    #10 Depends how 'brave' you are ! Alianza Lima are my team, but are based in a very rough district (La Victoria). If you're more of an Arsenal type, then Universitario might be the ones to follow.

    There's a very interestingly named team in Huancayo who attract a lot of support from England. You'll have to look them up on the internet, as my post would be deleted for breaking house rules if I named them....

  • Comment number 12.

    Harry, the biggest team in Peru is Alianza Lima, the Club of Teofilo Cubillas, Hugo Sotil, Claudio Pizarro, Paolo Guerrero, Jefferson Farfan.

    The derby is between Alianza vs Universitario. Its a great derby with alot of passion.

  • Comment number 13.

    Interesting blog Tim. I too feel it's a disgrace that La Copa America gets virtually no coverage on the BBC, or South American football for that matter (barring Tim's blogs).

    9. In regards to women's football - Why this is receiving quite so much coverage is beyond me. It's slow, boring and can not possibly compete with either the Copa or the forthcoming U20 World Cup. In their wisdom (and I imagine it is a wise move), the BBC have not posted any articles about the Women's World Cup in a blog format, so that's why I assume you're posting here...

  • Comment number 14.

    11. Didn't those famous fiddlers go bust?

  • Comment number 15.

    #14 Believe they got reformed as Sport Huancayo which isn't as much fun. The people from that area still have the same name though....

  • Comment number 16.

    As a Venezuelan born (Lived in UK majorit of life), im impressed that we are having a good tournement 0-0 againsy Brazil and an amazing come back against Paraguay which were losing 3-1 and scored 2 goals in the final minutes. Currently they are beating Chile 2-1 as i type this and I consider them a dark horse.

  • Comment number 17.

    There's a very interestingly named team in Huancayo who attract a lot of support from England. You'll have to look them up on the internet, as my post would be deleted for breaking house rules if I named them....
    Sport Huancayo??

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't know if you watched Brazil vs Paraguay. But I guess you didn't.
    It was a great game and Brazil played quite well. The best player of the match was Paraguay's goalkeeper.

    I agree that Ramires and Lucas (from São Paulo) were both disappointing. But I would point out André Santos (who wasted every attack he took part against Paraguay), Neymar and Pato as the most disappointing players. In fact, Neymar and Pato were not the playmakers that I expected and they also wasted too many opportunities to score.

    At last, the greatest loser was Mano Menezes. Things didn’t work the way he’s planned and he will need to rethink Brazil’s game. Judging by Brazilian and Argentine results, Tim has a good point in saying that coaches do make a difference. As a Brazilian I wanted Brazil to win but hopefully Mano Menezes and all Brazilian players will learn important lessons from this odd result. Of course, hopefully…

    All and all, the results of Copa America quarter finals (including Venezuela’s win over Chile) are very promising for South American football. It indicates that South American football is not only about Argentina and Brazil.

  • Comment number 19.

    But the really awful thing about Brazil (against Paraguay) was wasting four penalty kicks. The pitch was weird but wasting four penalty kicks was too much.

  • Comment number 20.

    As you say Tim, who the coach is usually makes a differnce. Markarian for Peru, and Batista for Argentina provide a stark contrast

  • Comment number 21.

    Why does the BBC - Tim Vickery aside - choose to ignore the Copa America?

    There's space on the BBC football website for the women's world cup and for endless transfer speculation about the Premier League but not for the Copa America.

  • Comment number 22.

    Just thought I'd mention this (not sure if it's already been done), but for those of you having a go at the Beeb for not covering the Copa, there's a very good reason.
    Simply, the BBC do NOT have permission to cover it! As I recall, the Beeb isn't even allowed in the stadiums during the games! So how can they cover a sporting event they're not even allowed to see themselves?
    Don't you wonder why it's not shown ANYWHERE in Europe (besides YouTube)? The transmitting company (I think it's called Univision) simply hasn't given permission to anyone else to show.
    Blame them, not the BBC... thanks.

  • Comment number 23.

    What a tournament this Copa has been! Columbia, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, teams with loads of talent knocked out by less talented but better prepared teams. Did not see the Peru vs Columbia game but in the other 3 games the big guns lost to teams that stuck to their game plans in the face of relentless attacks. Paraguay sat back for virtually 2 hours yet won the game, full credit to their goalie Villar, he played like a man possessed. In the PK's, after Elano's miss you just knew that Brazil was going to lose this one, the rest of the kickers seemed scared and uncertain about where to place their shots. Fred's kick was comical, such a long run-up to take a penalty and it still went wide! It's obvious that the Brazil penalty takers channeled the US women's team penalty takers!

    Brazil is a work in progress but they will be ready when it really counts in 2014. This tournament will help them in the same way the 2001 tournament helped Scolari's team. Argentina will solve the getting-the best-out-of-Messi puzzle before the next World Cup. A team with Messi, Aguero, Pastore and Di Maria clicking will be a delight to watch. Venezuela may just qualify for their first World Cup by then too. This Copa is now Uruguay's to lose, they have a complete and the best team in my opinion.

  • Comment number 24.

    @22.................I'm not asking for wall-to-wall tv coverage. What does it take to report the scores?

  • Comment number 25.


    I don't understand why you feel the need to attack Lucas and Ramires and blame them for Brazil's result. Lucas plays as a holding midfielder and I thought stroked around some nice passes as he usually does for both Brazil and Liverpool. He contributed going forward when he could with forward runs and I thought he had a decent game until he got sent off. Ramires likewise made some decent runs and I think his pace is something to look out for next year in the Premier League. These two can't be blamed for Brazil's inability and hard luck in front of goal and I think if you watched the game you would have realised this.

    Apart from one or two little neat passes Ganso had a very poor game I thought. I've seen him play for Santos and I have the same doubts as others as to whether he can adapt to a game where he is closely marked and not afforded space to pick passes. A lot of the time it seems he does not want to work hard enough to get in good positions to receive the ball, and unless his workrate lifts or he adds another dimension to his game (perhaps dropping deeper to receive the ball and begin play occasionally) I think this kind of criticism will always be leveled at him. That said, I would love to see him at Liverpool!

  • Comment number 26.

    So happy for Peru and the Peruvian people this will mean so much to them.

  • Comment number 27.

    Not sure about the ban on TV coverage in Europe. Here in France I get all the matches on Canal+

  • Comment number 28.

    "There's nothing beautiful about allowing the opponent to enjoy himself".

    Now that's something worth highlighting.

  • Comment number 29.

    I think they have a short at winning. It is a good thing that Brasil and Argentina are out (their current squads are so over hyped and cannot be compared to their the previous generations i.e. 80's and 90's). If Brasil does not change course drastically, she will lose the WC on home soil

  • Comment number 30.

    As always a great blog Tim. I would however take issue with the statement that no club from Peru has come remotely close to emulating Cristal's achievement in the subsequent 14 years after getting to the Libertadores final in '97. I know it's not the Libertadores, but Cienciano winning the Copa Sudamericana was a huge triumph for Peruvian football and I'd say came close to emulating Cristal's achievement!

  • Comment number 31.

    Most of the Brazilian players blamed the pitch and cited "luck" as the reason Paraguay won. None of them blamed themselves for the defeat which says to me that they they don't seem to have learn't from this experience which is key to improvement (if they want to win the WC on home soil)

  • Comment number 32.

    Just want to add my voice to the protest against BBC and their complete disregard for the competition. It's disgraceful that they don't even have the fixtures and results anywhere while they shove the Women's World Cup down our throats to satisfy some ridiculous equality quota despite the fact the competition is of such poor quality. I couldn't remember one penalty in the final last night actually taken with the ball on penalty spot. I am grateful to ESPN for allowing me to watch the Copa America.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Tim nice article but during regulation time Colombia were very unlucky. They wasted their chances and missed a penalty. I get the impression from your article though that you're glorifying dogged resistance from a minnow. This does not enhance the beauty of football. I watched the Brazil vs Paraguay game and was disapointed that the poorer team went through. Yes in the group stage Paraguay deserved to win. However yesterday Brazil had all the play, had quite a few chances and were very unlucky. Paraguay showed very little ambition and seemed to be playing for penalties from the outset. Having said that, Brazil's penalty taking was laughable. Why did Mano Meneses take off Pato, Neymar and Ganso before the penalties. They may have taken better penalties. Also why did Robinho 'chicken out' from taking a penalty? Brazil are in need of a strong and determined leader with a better manager as well. Do you think Leonardo can fill this role?
    As regards Argentina, it seems that if you mark Messi out of a game then there is not enough talent around him to consistently win matches against the big guns.

  • Comment number 34.

    What was up with 'Chupete' in this tournament? He looked so off the pace in the games I watched except for a nice finish against Venezuela but I expected a lot more from him and Chile last night in a lacklustre performance..was he returning after a long injury?

  • Comment number 35.

    I was born and grew up in Peru and i remember Markarian taking the helm of the club i used to support -Universitario de Deportes- he was always very well respected and won de champinship with them. He strikes me as no nonsense but very comitted and knows 100% what he is doing, even if Peru dont get to the final i am very happy for my country to be finally showing their potential-arriba Peru!

  • Comment number 36.

    2. Dave - couldn't agree more.

    Astonished that we can learn of Bradford's 7-1 crushing of Silsden the other day...but somehow NOT one Copa reuslt is even listed on this website..."other internationals"..."collated internationals"...not even the results! Oh, there's the women's world cup...extensive coverage...there's the first round of Europa lge qualifiers...NOTHING on the world's third biggest INTERNATIONAL football tournament...(deliberately ignoring the Olympics).

    If, by some strange twist of fate, this doesn't make the site...whoever reads this - Beeb, pull your finger out. You're becoming as transparently un-objective as the Police or Murdoch's lot.

    How about some respect eh? Tarring everyone with the same stupid brush again?

  • Comment number 37.

    Wow! What a story about Markarian! I had started to accept all of Scotlands problems were simply due to poor players, but Peru's turnaround is inspriational! I'd given up hope on reaching another major tournament in my lifetime, football seems to have passed us by as a sport, but this story makes me want to expect more from Scotland!

    I wonder if Man City will ever see the money if Tevez moves to Corinthians. Suspect they will see, say £10m, of it and the rest never filters through.....

    Shame we dont get more South American coverage here. With such crap sport on TV in the summer, seems Sky would be on to a winner playing recordings of the Copa games after work at 7pm say and making a feature of the tournament....

  • Comment number 38.

    I agree that BBC has not posted any article in reference to the CopaAmerica barring Tim's blog, not even a scoreline. As a Srilankan the only available option is the official CopaAmerica website and the Neo Sports channel and this too because of Satellite TV. I would appreciate if BBC could a give at least a score update on this but overall BBC does do a very good job with regard to the coverage of most sports (football, cycling, cricket, athletics, rugby etc).
    I was not at all surprised when both Brazil and Argentina were eliminated in the quarters. Right from the start they were offcolour and excepting a few players ( like Messi, Aguero, Higuan, Pato & Neymar) all others were disappointing. Really disappointed that Chile could not make it to the semis cause they played technical and attractive football in the group stages. At the moment it is hard to predict as to who will go through to the final as the unexpected is happening when it is least expected. I can even be a Venezuela-Peru final.

  • Comment number 39.

    Good Article Tim. Great shame is that the European clubs ignore South American coaches. Ironically in the UK we have a pretty poor level of (achieving) coaches except for Sir Alex and in Spain just Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho - so why don't Owners with all their money and supposed insight, look further afield for talent with conviction. The English football team Management is one such opportunity.

  • Comment number 40.

    Here in Sweden we can see every game in the Copa Canal + but our media have also overhyped the Womens World Cup. Especially since our ladies took the bronze(Well done by the way!). I am very impressed with Venezuela and the way they played last night. They were under severe pressure from Chile, who hit the woodwork twice, and still managed to win. When they have their chance they attack with pace and skill and they look much more dangerous than Paraguay, who parked the bus and played for penalties from the 1st minute of the game against Brazil. I think they have a real chance of making the Final. Perhaps against Uruguay

  • Comment number 41.

    What a great Copa America. Starting to spring to life after a slow start.
    Every quarter finals has been exciting and some great quality matches.
    And the semi finalist were what you would call suprising.
    As every favourites going into the matches Columbia, brazil, Argentina and chile all gone. I am not surprised because many countries in south America do not get fair recognition they deserve.
    Yes uraguay are a big team but vs Argentina they were underdogs no doubt.

    I watch the national Anthems and you see the pride that the players have in playing for their country. Raw emotion from the players and this really brings out the commitment on the pitch. It's fabulous to watch.
    I love watching the copa America. It never disappoints every tournament.
    Plus this years edition 3/4 semi finalists are so called unknown to people living outside south America. Great tournament.

    How on earth is there is zero coverage (Tim apart, keep up the great work, best journalist and writer at the BBC) of this tournament. No scores, no fixtures, nothing.
    This is shameful. I seem to remember the underage international tournaments had a few articles up. Plus women world cup. I do not see how these can supersede copa America, the oldest major international tournament in the world. Yes brazil and Argentina were knocked out but they are still so called powerhouses of international football and will probably be top 5 favourites to win world cup still even after this poor showing. Maybe the organisers have to invite England to play in copa to ever get BBC interested.

  • Comment number 42.

    #41 - couldn't agree more.

    Come on BBC - more coverage of big tournaments wanted!

    The African nations cup coverage, but a lower standard and less intrigue than the Copa.

  • Comment number 43.

    Does anybody know who much the new tv deal for Brazilian football is worth? Is it split equally between the top 20 clubs or do the most supported teams like Flamengo and Corinthians get the lions share?

    Im trying to find out as much as possible about the changing financial status of Brazilian domestic football but cant find a thing.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think this Brazil is a team in transition.

    I think they should bring back Ronaldinho and Kaka. It may seem like a backward step but I don't think the 'new generation' of Pato, Neymar and Ganso are ready...there is also a lot of pressure on them to replace the Brazilian greats of the past. I would bring those two superstars back to ease that pressure. OK, they've not had a great 18 months at club level and Ronaldinho is probably slightly past his best, but this new Brazil lacks some composure in attack and I think that Kaka and 'Dinho would give them that.

  • Comment number 45.

    To everyone complaining about the lack of coverage on the BBC. My guess is there is a very good reason and not that the Beeb is trying to spite you all ;-) Given they do cover all other competitions I'd guess there is some licencing or legal reason for not having any coverage.

    I could be wrong, and it could be an amazing oversight of course.

    I'm rooting for a Uruguay vs Paraguay final. Then we'll know which is best-guay!

  • Comment number 46.

    Would just like to add my voice to the growing list of contributors who are upset with the lack of interest shown by the BBC towards the Copa America. It is a great tournament and when the alternative has been the Women's World Cup (A sub Sunday league standard politically correct farce!) then you do have to wonder just what the BBC is thinking.

    I would love to see Uruguay win the Copa, as I still feel they were very unlucky not to make the World Cup final last year. Thanks Tim (best sports journalist and blogger on the BBC by a country mile) for keeping us updated with this.

    I would also echo the poster above with regards to Brazilian clubs finances. I would love to see more South American players staying in South America for longer. I believe this will benefit them as players and also the national teams. However, I have big doubts if Brazil's economic upturn will benefit the clubs much. My understanding is there is still a lot of debt and some corruption and I would be surprised if the flow of players doesn't remain largely one-way.

  • Comment number 47.

    @6 George Thomson: the Club World Cup is a continuation of the Intercontinental Cup. European Clubs have NOT been favorites in the Intercontinental Cup for several decades... only in the mid 90s and afterwards European Clubs became favorites.

    And even when European Clubs were NOT favorites, the fans and clubs mostly didn´t really care. Just check Flamengo´s win over Liverpool in 81 and São Paulo wins over Barcelona (92) and Milan (93) to see what I mean.

    @8 George Thomson: Lucas has been praised by Liverpool and elected the best player in the team last season. Ramires... well, he has really gotten worse since joining Chelsea. Ganso? After several months without playing, the Copa America was like his 2nd or 3rd pos injury match. In the very difficult position as having to create most of Brazil´s plays. With a group he knew little (first Copa match was only his 2nd match for Brazil)

    Who did you want in the position? Hernanes, who had been red carded and was sole responsible for Brazil losing to France?

  • Comment number 48.

    Hi Tim,
    Great read as always. I was wondering what you knew of William Chiroque? A very odd looking bloke, very small but boy he can run. I'd never heard of him before Saturday's game, having read his wikipedia profile now I see he's probably too old to make any great imprint on the world game but what is his profile (if he has one) in South America?

  • Comment number 49.

    btw, should we be surprised that europeans (and the english in special) ignore the Club World Cup, when even the Copa America isnt covered there? If even a national sides competition, with 3 teams that together won 9 World Cups, isnt shown in England, I suppose no large amount of big players being bought by brazilian clubs will be enough to make english care about South American clubs and thus care enough about the Club World Cup.

  • Comment number 50.

    The Copa America is being covered by other English-based sites, AcesHigh.

    Unfortunately the agenda to promote South American football is, for example, not quite as strong as the agenda right now to promote women's football, and as the BBC likes to be politically correct, they devoted more coverage to the Women's World Cup than the Copa.

  • Comment number 51.

    I was really angry at the BBC's complete disregard of the Copa America, the third largest international football tournament in the world!

    Instead we get wall to wall coverage (including pointless tweets) on the women's world cup, nothing against the tournament but it really is of a very poor standard and should not be covered as much as it has been.

    Great to see Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile reach the semis, really shows how football is a team sport rather than a bunch of superstars not that Uruguay and Chile don't have their share of world class players.

  • Comment number 52.

    Finally Peru are going somewhere. The last time we got a hint of success was Spain 1982, where Peru went into the last group game needing a 0-0 to go through - and lost 5-0 to Poland. Schools stopped, TVs appeared in classes, all in vain.
    Here's hoping for the future.

  • Comment number 53.

    It is no surprising that teams like Peru (previous glories) and Venezuela (more baseball fanatics) have started to close the gap on the big two, Uruguay as well. The recent success of Spain and its league means that the top destination of most talented South Americans has seen them pull up the calibre of their home-based players. Peru's defence is no longer shocking - they have Rodriguez and Acasiete, two Iberia-based players who have been able to influence the rest of the team in superior tactics.

  • Comment number 54.

    @50. Yes BBC sports should cover all sports including women football and underage international tournament.
    I think the problem people are bringing up is the complete zero coverage.
    I doubt you need licensing to put a fixture list up or just to put scores and goalscorers in the results page.
    BBC even puts in non-league results.

    All the BBC should do is just say "brazil, Argentina knockout on penalties to Paraguay and uraguay respectively, Peru beat Columbia 2-0 ET and venzuela beat chile 2-1.". Simple. But nope the Copa America apparently doesn't exist.

    I see BBC has report on tevez to corintinhans but did they mention tevez was the only penalty kick missed in their shootout? Wait apparently BBC still thinks tevez is still with man city on their USA tour

  • Comment number 55.

    To see the first signs of Peru's resurgence just watch this recent friendly against the current World Champions Spain - [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]- some magic play from Peru in the first opening minutes

  • Comment number 56.

    @43 and 46, regarding the new Tv deals in Brazil:

    No, its not distributed equally. Flamengo and Corinthians, who have respectivelly 35 and 30 million supporters, get more.

    It all changed this year, with the melting down of the Clube dos 13 and the clubs then negotiating individually with Globo TV. The new deal, apparently, creates 3 groups + "the rest" for the Serie A.

    Group 3: Grêmio, Internacional, Cruzeiro, Atlético-MG, Fluminense e Botafogo (R$32 million for open air tv only, about double that, considering internet and cable transmission rights)

    Group 2: São Paulo, Palmeiras, Vasco e Santos. Gets 18% more than Group 3.

    Group 1: Flamengo and Corinthians: gets 18% more than Group 2.

    Thus, brazilian football is now destined to become the worst league in the World, just as has happened with spanish football, which is the biggest "Gauchão" in the world, with only 2 clubs with any chances of winning anything. (a reference to Rio Grande do Sul state League, where only Grêmio or Inter win every year)

  • Comment number 57.

    It has been a marvellous Copa America, and the Argentina v Uruguay quarter-final had the best first half of football I have seen since Maradona's final World Cup match, when Argentina beat Nigeria 2-1 in 1994.

    The rise of the smaller nations makes the 2014 World Cup qualifiers (which start in 12 weeks) even more fascinating - Argentina and Uruguay are by no means certain to qualify.

    The claims that the BBC cannot report the matches and scores are absurd. They have no right to show actual play from the matches, as the rights belong to Canal + (much of Europe), Setanta (Ireland and Australia), ESPN (UK) et al.

    But the same is true of the African Nations Cup and the Champions League. There is nothing stopping the BBC from covering the scores and carrying match reports, or even play-by-play text commentaries.

    No the only apparent motivation for the BBC blackout is that they are afraid of driving demand and viewing figures for ESPN's coverage. And that is really sad for those of us who expect the BBC's news and sports coverage to be evenhanded, objective aand neutral.

  • Comment number 58.

    Wonder what the odds would have been on a Venzuela v Peru final 3 months ago.

  • Comment number 59.

    Thank your for this week's entry on Sergio Markarian. I'm a Panathinaikos fan myself and I remember very well his time in the club. With him there was fighting spirit, grit, good defensive football but also intelligent play when attacking. I miss him a lot, and I wish he could have stayed. During his time, we played superbly in the UEFA Cup, losing at the quarter-finals to Mourinho's Porto. Unfortunately, he left after the events of 'Rizoupoli' in the last-game title decider against Olympiakos, quite unfairly to my view. He also did quality work at Ionikos, working with virtually no budget at all and bringing them to Europe.

    He is one on the most underated managers around, many people find him graphical but he's a passionate man and I'm very happy that this article is making him justice.

  • Comment number 60.

    >Lucas has been praised by Liverpool and elected the best player in the team last season
    no wonder they were 6th.. a championship player at best but with a brazil passport

  • Comment number 61.

    At 60. I completely agree, I think Lucas Leiva is a very average player- in comparison to the greats of the past that Brazil (and indeed Liverpool) have had in midfield.

  • Comment number 62.

    Yup, nice blogpost Tim.

    Perhaps we should be asking you.

    What do YOU think about not even being to check the Copa scores on the BBC's own site? You must equally, surely more disturbed, than the rest of us.

    Can you guess at a reason? Dumbfounded, we are.

    Like I say, excellent result for Silsden the other night(!!!)...but nothin on Brazil(!!!)

  • Comment number 63.

    @10 The obvious choices would be Universitario or Allianz Lima... both Leon de Huancayo and Sport Huancayo are worth looking out for as well. Personally for me I lean towards Colegio Nacional de Iquitos, not for any footballing reasons... but simply because it was a marvellous city with friendly people. They days spent there were only rivalled by Cusco for the best experiences of my time in Perú.

    I think it's actually nice to see Brasil and Argentina go home early, neither have came close to the standards of previous years. Argentina badly need a maestro like Riquelme or somebody with the passing range of Seba Veron. Brasil lack an out and out striker and some flair from the wing forward positions to turn their dominance of possession into goals. When you think of Adriano, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka in recent years.. this current crop doesn't really look fit to carry the baton forward in the way that we would expect.

    For people like me that prefer to see the underdog triumph.. this years Copa has been a breath of fresh air.

  • Comment number 64.

    51.At 13:14 18th juil. 2011, manutd1982 wrote:

    I was really angry at the BBC's complete disregard of the Copa America, the third largest international football tournament in the world!

    Instead we get wall to wall coverage (including pointless tweets) on the women's world cup, nothing against the tournament but it really is of a very poor standard and should not be covered as much as it has been.

    Great to see Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile reach the semis, really shows how football is a team sport rather than a bunch of superstars not that Uruguay and Chile don't have their share of world class players.----------------------------------------------------
    Chile? As far as I know they were knocked out last night.

    It seems like you don't follow the tournament as closely as your post shows otherwise you would have known that :)

  • Comment number 65.

    Thank you for another excellent blog Tim.

    Like many others, if it weren't for your input I would be oblivious to the fact that the Copa America is taking place, which is a pity as I did want to follow it after the excitement that Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay (who I've followed since drawing them in the 1998 World Cup Sweep Stake in my class at school) created in last year's World Cup.

    It's pleasing to see such an open competition, just such a shame that I can't get any information (other than your blog) from the BBC.

  • Comment number 66.

    I shouted myself hoarse after Peru rode their luck against Colombia and scored 2 stunning goals in extra-time. You could say Markarian is the South American Neil Warnock, getting the best out of ordinary players and allowing the odd genius to shine! As far as qualifying for Brazil 2014, let's not forget the the Peruvian FA is as dodgy as QPR's owners and Peru's ability to seek out failure in the face of success on a par with my beloved Hoops! For now, we believe, ARRIBA PERU!

  • Comment number 67.

    Yes i think with more Peruvian players playing abroad and getting to regularly play in bigger more competitive championships and tournaments such as the Champions League its benefiting the national squad. I wish solano wasnt as old as he would add a good creative dimension to the current squad. Anyhow im finally a bit more optomistic going into the world cup qualifiers as in the past Peru have always ended up buckling under pressure-but with young players and new manager the future is looking promising.

  • Comment number 68.

    Totally agree, the complete lack of coverage on the BBC Sports website is appalling, it has been my favourite Sports website for years but I have had to go elsewhere for information, at a time when the Women's World Cup *Yawn* has been given precedent on the site. The Copa America deserves more coverage.

  • Comment number 69.

    Speaking of sports coverage.....why doesnt the Beeb keep their Darts reporting up to it because the " other lot " are televising the Worlds in Blackpool....just askin...??

  • Comment number 70.

    Can you lot stop the hate directed at the Women's world cup? I couldn't care less about it either, but at least it involved England. It's the over coverage of the African cup of nations that gets me. Poor quality football and poor quality refereeing and zero interest from a licence-payer point of view. I guess as the BBC showed the matches live they tried to drum up more interest.

  • Comment number 71.

    Tim, as a colombian, I simply cannot read your blog this week, it is too painful, I'm still in mourn. We have a good team with great players, we just need to start taking advantage of our goal opportunities.

    The qualifiers are going to be hell for everybody.

  • Comment number 72. doesnt Tim read his Comment thread....just askin..??

  • Comment number 73.

    This copa has been amazing, very open so far. great for south american football. i fear thought that brasil is some ways off for being ready to compete in 2014 world cup and there are not many meaningful matches remaining :(

  • Comment number 74.

    At 15:27 18th Jul 2011, SwissColony wrote:

    Can you lot stop the hate directed at the Women's world cup? I couldn't care less about it either, but at least it involved England. It's the over coverage of the African cup of nations that gets me. Poor quality football and poor quality refereeing and zero interest from a licence-payer point of view

    I enjoyed the African Nations Cup- not the last tournament in Angola but the one before that, which featured a lot of entertaining football. And Africa possesses world class players- Samuel Eto'o, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien to name but three. I think it's stretching it just a little to say that there is zero interest from anyone in Britain in it!

    The kindest thing I can say about women's football is that it's a different sport. I do think there has been a concerted attempt in the mass media this summer to hype up their World Cup and convince male football fans that they 'should' be watching otherwise they 'are chauvinist, bigoted pigs'. All the telling people that it's great and if you are not interested you must be prejudiced. The BBC has been part of that media effort. if you don't believe me look at some of the articles that have been popping up recently.

    I'm not interested in jumping on bandwagons either.

  • Comment number 75.

    On the topic of Peru, does anyone know what's happening with Reimond Manco, the kid billed as a wonderkid a few years ago? I know he's now in Mexico, but why isn't he being picked for Peru?

  • Comment number 76.

    Uruguay is at the moment the most successful Copa America team alongside Argentina. They both have 14 Copas to their credit, while Brazil only can show 8 for them.
    Having knocked out Argentina, Uruguay is on its way to its 15th Copa, and be top of the table all by itself.
    Yet we are only 3 million population strong, a real modern life sporting miracle!

  • Comment number 77.

    #60 and 61

    I don't understand your point. Lucas Leiva is not brilliant but his role either for Brazil or Liverpool is to DEFEND - without being sent off - of course. Lucas is a limited version of Mascherano but that is what is expected from him!

    The other midfield “defender” is Ramires who has more freedom to attack. Notice that Ganso and Robinho didn’t really strive at recovering the ball because - to them - this duty belongs to Lucas and Ramires. I think Sandro would have played if he didn’t have his knee problem but in Ramires’ place.

    At Copa America and at previous friendly games, the rule of creativity was left to Ganso, Robinho and Neymar; with the support of Maicon (or Daniel Alves) and André Santos. Blame them and Mano when Brazil is not offensive enough. Perhaps Kaka will be dearly remembered for the future and Mano will need to think things over. But I don’t think Ronaldinho has a chance at the national team anymore.

    At last, the likes of Ronaldo and Romario are truly missed! Pato and Fred are way bellow these two. And so is Higuain who also missed more opportunities then I can bear.

    Cheers to Uruguay, Peru, Paraguay and Venezuela. But I don’t know if semis will have games as thrilling as the quarter finals were.

  • Comment number 78.

    At 16:08 18th Jul 2011, Luiz_from_Curitiba wrote:

    #60 and 61

    I don't understand your point. Lucas Leiva is not brilliant but his role either for Brazil or Liverpool is to DEFEND - without being sent off - of course. Lucas is a limited version of Mascherano but that is what is expected from him!


    I don't even think he's a particularly good DM or that's his best role. He's a box to box midfielder, a European-style midfielder, and not a great one. Yes I would play Hernanes. Yes, apparently he had a bad game for Brazil in a friendly against France, but that's just one game and ridiculous to judge him on that. I think Hernanes is a better midfielder than any of those that featured in the Copa America- including Ganso.

  • Comment number 79.

    Am I the alone in thinking that this tournament has lent some credance to the highly derided recent FIFA world ranking release, after which many crowed at the ridiculousness of England being rated above the likes of Argentina and Brazil? Not saying that England would have won the tornament (after all we don't really do winning) just that having watched most of both Brazil and Argentina's games in it its pretty clear that neither are the incredible sides that most journo's like to lazily imply they always are. Not only do both teams look poorly managed but both also seem very imbalanced Argentina being made up entirely of "10's and 4's" with no particularly creative holding players or much of a defence.

  • Comment number 80.

    Well....seems to me that you have an even bigger and more difficult scoop to write about... given Venezuela´s access to the semi´s... as they do not have half the football history that Peru has...Cesar Farias et al seem to have also inspired the arrival of another latin-american guest to the football arena...or is it too soon to propose this?

  • Comment number 81.

    The quarterfinals were excellent. Colombia were a bit unlucky against Peru but kudos to Peru who took their chances well. Argentina definitely have problems with their defense, while they dominated large parts of the match every time there was a corner or a free kick for Uruguay their defense looked shaky. Brazil's penalties were worst then England but Uruguay's were perfect. The best I have seen since West Germany's in the world cup 1986 against Mexico. I also think the referees have been very good and there have not been much diving either.

  • Comment number 82.

    Seeing the immense efforts put in by lesser lights, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Columbia, Costa Rica et al, one thing is clear to me: no one loves footie the way the Latin Americans do. And they seem to have the requisite skills in abundance, at grass-roots level. And seemingly no one is afraid of the established stars of the game and pack them off like so much excess baggage.

  • Comment number 83.

    I agree that the BBC's coverage of the Copa is wholly inadequate, but for those of you complaining about the Women's World Cup - you should really try watching some of the matches! The passion and excitement is immense. Some of the matches, including yesterday's final, were real classics. And in terms of quality - a couple of goals from yesterday, the first by the US and the extra-time equalizer by Japan, were quite spectacular. More than 90% of the strikers in the Premiership would have missed both. I'd rather watch games like that than, say Bolton-Stoke, any day.

  • Comment number 84.

    Agree about the BBC lack of coverage of the Copa America, family visit no wifi no ESPN ,thought I could rely on good old fashioned CEEFAX.nothing results page was full of lucrative meaningles friendlies Man Utd vs Seattle Sounders an MLS Championship. standard!! My team Arsenal tour of the far East got a mention in the fixtures/results,but the world's oldest continental knockout tournament nothing. On BBC Breakfast yesterday we actually saw goals and Argentina's penalty miss.Mentioned Brazil game that night,today ,Monday on BBC Breafast Sport slot, Brazil.s exit and all the upset with the big 3 exiting.

    Has the weather effected players,asked Tim on BBC Radio 5 Live WFPI about this low scoring tournament,Venezuela 2007 Argentina scored 8 goals in their first two group games,4 in the all group games.Tim said that the tournament would hot up after a slow start! After Copa America ends.we look forward to U20 World Cup in Colombia with England qualifying!

  • Comment number 85.


    Did you ever think that the sides that beat Argentina and Brazil might be better than England also?

  • Comment number 86.

    #60 sorry I meant #79

  • Comment number 87.

    # 77, Vox_Populi,

    Do you mean that Brazil’s only problem was Lucas Leiva? As I said before, he is not brilliant but – unlike André Santos, Ramires, Robinho, Neymar and Pato – he played well as a defensive midfielder (“1o volante” in Portuguese). My point here is that Brazil has many options to replace Lucas Leiva but it was not because of him that Brazil didn’t win.

    I agree with you that Hernanes is a great player and that he should be at Copa America. But you went a bit too far to say that he is better than Ganso.

    Maybe you are a São Paulo fan. Any comments on the other Lucas (that plays in São Paulo) performance. He replaced Ganso against Paraguay and did absolutely nothing. Despite his disappointing perfomance at Copa America, I still expect a lot from him in the future. Just hope he's learnt something…

  • Comment number 88.

    So the BBC do know the Copa America is on then.

  • Comment number 89.


    Do you think that the 5 sides that Brazil and Argentina drew with (and in some cases subsequently lost to on penalties), Venezuela, Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia and Uruguay are all better then England? Do you think any other then Uruguay are even in the same league as England? Did you watch any of the matches? Or were you just trying to make a pithy put down? (If you were going for the latter I think I may have trumped you.)

    Any way as I stressed my point wasn't that I thought England would have been the best team at the tornament, but that having watched Argentina and Brazil play in it it became clear that neither team is playing particularly well at all at the moment and the idea of England being ranked above them isn't quite as ridiculous as many journo's implied.

  • Comment number 90.

    In relation to the question about the revenue in Brazilian football and particularly Corinthians - I wrote an article yesterday on the topic (

    Anyway the main factors are that the collective TV deal is finished, so Corinthians could sell their own (for £40-50m a season), they receive lots of sponsorship (23m a year from Neo Quimica) and they have a very low wage bill (only Blackpool paid out less for the Premiership). It doesn't explain everything though.

    So Tim, do you know if there's any truth to Media Sports Investment part-funding Tevez's move? It would seem strange with the ongoing investigation into the Corinthians-MSI relationship, but nothing would surprise me in Brazilian football.


  • Comment number 91.

    OK list of senior international football competitions BBC should be making information available for (in order of priority for me - my opinion but feel free to disagree)
    (i) World cup
    (ii) European Cup
    (iii) Copa America
    (iv) Women's World and European (if there is one) cup (provided british representative playing - if not it drops down the list)
    (v) African Cup of Nations

    There may be some other competitions worth adding to the list but I am not really aware of them so can't comment.
    3,4 and 5 don't necessarily need to be on the BBC TV side but should at least get results and match reports/summaries on the internet.
    3 and 4 should get blogs as well
    I have put Women's football involving British teams above African not for quality but purely because this is the British Broadcasting Corporation so it should focus on British.
    While I agree that Women's football is not to the same standard as top-flight/international men's I do believe that at international level it has many games that would be better than non-league. I watched a couple of the games/highlights in the worldcup and there was a decent level of skill in some of the teams
    Please remember that womens football has had very little exposure until recently so has never had money to develop itself (a lot of the very best coaches will probably end up in the men's game as there is more money there)

  • Comment number 92.

    Argentina were a total failure - they only got one win in four matches, and it was against a U-22 Costa Rica side that put up a fight for 44 minutes.

    Brazil were a bit unlucky to lose yesterday, kudos to Villar for saving Paraguay in such a convincing way. Ironically Paraguay have drawn their four matches in a row.

    Chile should have qualified to semis, they were by far the best team. Venezuela somehow found two goals from set pieces and that was it.

  • Comment number 93.

    The BBC's coverage of this International Tournament is scandalous. Little or no reporting of results, games, news .... nothing. Come on!

  • Comment number 94.

    awesome article... with "El Mago" (the Magician) - Markarian, Peru a pretty good chance to defeat Uruguay. Aside from Guerrero and Vargas, most of the people don't realize that many other players such as Chiroke are significant assets that the Peruvian team has. Against Chile, Peru played with only with alternates, including Chiroke, and yet they did a great game (even though they lost by a goal at minute 94 which by the way was by accident). I'm pretty sure Peru is going to make an excellent game tomorrow and hopefully make it to the finals.

  • Comment number 95.

    Used to watch a great Cruz Azul side that was coached by Markarian and he was really unlucky to miss out on winning the title with them. Glad to see he is still doing a great job elsewhere.

  • Comment number 96.

    It is sad that so many commentators have been using this space to take potshots at the Women's World Cup. No one is claiming that the football played there is on a par with the men's version, but no one should be labeling it a 'politically motivated farce.' It is a competition of interest in its own right, played with passion and skill. If it doesn't interest you, don't watch it...but go a little lighter on the slander and denigration.

  • Comment number 97.


    There's a very interestingly named team in Huancayo who attract a lot of support from England. You'll have to look them up on the internet, as my post would be deleted for breaking house rules if I named them....

    Deportivo..? Aren't they notorious for, umm... illegal handling? ;-)

  • Comment number 98.

    Think this tournament has reinforced the point Tim has made for a while about the development of the smaller nations since the introduction of the extended World Cup qualifying. It has certainly brought Venezuela in from the outside of South American football and has been a contributory factor to Paraguay qualifying for the last four World Cups. I make the point in more detail here but it is also good to see Peru recovering which as long as Ecuador can re-group make the qualification process for 2014 the most competitive ever

  • Comment number 99.

    I am glad to see I am not the only one bewildered by the lack of coverage by the BBC. I thought I was going senile. How can we get an official explanation for this extraordinary oversight? Is there an email address to complain to?

  • Comment number 100.

    # 96 The football that the women play is comparable to what 14 year old boys play. Germany is ranked very high and they lost to a German club's 14 year olds.


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