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Copa America Team of the Week - Lionel Messi, Neymar, Rodrigo De Paul

Copa America Team of the Week - Messi, Neymar, De Paul
© Reuters
Sports Mole selects its Copa America team of the week for matchday two of the competition, including Lionel Messi, Neymar and Rodrigo De Paul.

Upon the conclusion of the second round of Copa America group fixtures, the tournament has started to take shape, with several heavily-fancied sides kicking into gear with important victories.

Host nation Brazil continued their perfect start with a 4-0 win over Peru to go two points clear at the top of Group A, all but confirming their place in the final eight.

Meanwhile, a depleted Venezuela squad did well to hold Colombia to a point, as the two sides played out a goalless draw in Goiania that should see Colombia through to the quarter-finals nonetheless.

In Group B, Argentina maintained their position at the summit with a crucial 1-0 win over Uruguay, the other favourites to advance out of that group.

Chile also remained in hot pursuit, levelling Argentina with four points after their 1-0 victory over strugglers Bolivia, who have now lost both of their opening two games.

Here, Sports Mole selects its Copa America team of the week from the second set of fixtures at this summer's competition.



DEFENCE

Wuilker Farinez in action for Venezuela on June 17, 2021© Reuters

With five clean sheets in the four games this week, there was definitely some notable goalkeeping performances, but it was Venezuela stopper Wuilker Farinez who stood out over the likes of Emiliano Martinez and Claudio Bravo with an inspired performance between the sticks.

With several key players out of action after a coronavirus outbreak, Venezuela went into a tough clash against Colombia with a depleted squad, and they were under pressure throughout, but Farinez produced a fine display to stop any of Colombia's eight shots on target from hitting the back of the net, earning a hard-fought point for his nation against the odds.

Starting a slightly makeshift back three, to allow for another player on the left flank, is Argentina left-back Marcos Acuna, who shone in their 1-0 win over Uruguay at both ends of the pitch, winning eight duels and making six ball recoveries, while also producing two successful dribbles and contributing to his side's attacking play.

He plays alongside his compatriot Nicolas Otamendi, who, after a questionable display in their opening draw with Chile, was a rock at the heart of the Argentina back line as they picked up a clean sheet and their first win of the tournament. The former Manchester City man was in inspiring form as he won five duels as well as making three clearances and three interceptions against a dangerous Uruguay attack.

The final player in the back three, narrowly edging out a strong performance from Colombia's Yerry Mina, is 33-year-old Chile centre-back Gary Medel, who continues to defy the years with solid showings on the biggest stage for his country.

The Bologna defender was quick to snuff out any Bolivia attacks, ensuring his side stayed on top throughout the encounter.



MIDFIELD

Brazil's Alex Sandro pictured on June 17, 2021© Reuters

Starting the midfield five is Colombian full-back Daniel Munoz on the right flank in a wing-back role, after he commanded his wing excellently in their goalless draw with Venezuela, comfortably dealing with opposition winger Cristian Casseres while contributing to the attack as Colombia were largely camped in their opponents half. Munoz came away from the game extremely unlucky not to have picked up an assist, and his performance more than warrants a place in this side.

The first player in the middle three is Chilean midfielder Erick Pulgar, who was arguably the standout player aside from Medel in their 1-0 win over Bolivia.

In a midfield with the experienced duo of Charles Aranguiz and Arturo Vidal, it was Pulgar who shone with an assured performance, protecting the back four to keep his side in control throughout, while also looking exciting going forward.

He is first joined by Argentina star Rodrigo De Paul, who starred for his nation with a dynamic performance in the middle. Although his fellow midfielder Guido Rodriguez netted the winning goal, and is unlucky not to make this side, it was the Udinese man that stole the show in the middle, creating plenty of problems for Uruguay with his runs and passing.

For the second consecutive week, Colombia enforcer Wilmar Barrios makes the Team of the Week, having again led his country with a solid performance in the middle. Although they failed to break the deadlock against a weak Venezuela squad, Barrios's performance more than warranted three points, as he ensured they stayed on top of the game throughout, leaving him to feel slightly let down by their poor form in front of goal.

We have largely gone with a 3-5-2 to fit Brazil star Alex Sandro in on the left-hand side alongside Acuna, after he was one of the standout performers in their dominant 4-0 win over Peru.

The Juventus man dominated his flank throughout, providing plenty of creativity while also netting the opening goal in the 12th minute of the game to immediately establish Brazil's dominance in the game.



ATTACK

Argentina captain Lionel Messi pictured on June 19, 2021© Reuters

The first of two strikers that do not surprise with their inclusion, Lionel Messi picked up another Man of the Match award with a fantastic display for Argentina in their 1-0 win over Uruguay, as he completed a whopping nine dribbles, won 15 duels and assisted Guido Rodriguez for the winning goal.
 
Despite not getting on the scoresheet, a surprise in itself, Messi's influence was still felt as he inspired his side to a crucial victory.

He is joined in the front two by another expected inclusion, after Neymar led Brazil to another dominant win to all but confirm their place in the final eight of the competition, as he netted the second goal of the game while being a constant threat to the Peru defence, sealing his place in the Team of the Week for the second straight time ahead of the likes of Ben Brereton, who fired Chile to a crucial 1-0 win with a 10th-minute goal.



SPORTS MOLE'S COPA AMERICA TEAM OF THE WEEK

Copa America TOTW 2

Sports Mole's Copa America team of the week (3-5-2): Farinez; Medel, Otamendi, Acuna; Munoz, Pulgar, Barrios, De Paul, Sandro; Messi, Neymar


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