Argentinos Juniors’ youngster Fausto Vera said it best at full time, “With Brazil there are never friendlies,” and so was the case in the final of the quadrangular tournament in the Canary Islands on Sunday. Following the 14-nil thrashing of the hosts in the semi-final, Argentina had to work far harder for victory against old rivals Brazil yet held on for a win and earned a morale-boosting title ahead of January’s pre-Olympic tournament.
While the fourteen-goal semi-final victory was as simple as it sounds, Argentina were perhaps a little fortunate to see off Brazil in the Estadio Gran Canaria making the most of an early error to snatch victory.
Less than five minutes were on the clock when Brazil goalkeeper Phelipe passed the ball straight to Matías Zaracho. The Racing midfielder was slow to pull the trigger himself but his quick thinking kept the ball alive and after rolling it to Nicolás Capaldo, the Boca youngster was left with the simplest of finishes into an unguarded net.
Brazil would have the better of it from then on and dominated long spells of possession but struggled to open up clear chances and on the occasions they did were unable to find a way past Facundo Cambeses.
The second half continued in the same way and while Argentina’s attacking prowess was on display in the semi-final, it was their defensive resolve evident against Brazil.
Leonardo Balerdi marshalled the back-line and although substitute Vera came close to sealing victory with a stinging shot saved by Phelipe, it was Brazil in the ascendency.
With no shortage of cards dished out by the referee, the final whistle blew to protests from Brazil. It made no difference and both sides will head to Colombia in January looking to seal a place at the Tokyo Olympics. Fernando Batista has the makings of a very good squad and has some difficult choices ahead.