Uruguay 3 Paraguay 0
Images from the 2011 Copa America final in Buenos Aires:
(c) Justin Walley & morethanagame.info 2011
The lads with the Fray Bentos flags at La Plata for the semi are on the boat from Buenos Aires to Uruguay on Wednesday morning and not surprisingly in very good spirits. Most of them will be making their way back to Argentina this weekend for the final at the River Plate stadium.
Fray Bentos was a famous name when I grew up. I can’t imagine anybody consuming their corned beef and other products in the UK in the 70s could ever have imagined that they were slaughtering nearly one million cows per year in that one factory on the banks of the River Plate. The factory closed in 1979 and all that is left is a museum and a new paper pulp factory close by.
Uruguay is even colder and more expensive than Argentina, on the evidence of Colonia at least. Supermarket prices are frightening. Two euro for a snickers anybody?
I was told the Uruguayans were less moody than their Argentine cousins but the boys in the pizza restaurant where I watch Paraguay put out Venezuela put me in mind of Messrs. Suarez and Jose Batista and his team mates in that notorious 1986 World Cup squad that picked up countless yellow and red cards. The restaurant is packed. In Buenos Aires they’ve been pretending the tournament has finished since last week. When you’ve got a population of 13 million you can more easily hide the bleedingly obvious. The Uruguayans are mad for it.
Every 20 minutes the sound dies and a series of ads come on the screen at top volume for Cololo who, regardless of the ads, seem to have the monopoly here on tinned food anyway. While some geezer shouts rather over enthusiastically about green peas, Venezuela hit the crossbar (again).
Colonia is a little time trap slice of Portugal that helped this nation become a nation after the town was founded in 1680. It is an attractive and pleasant upmarket place, with some centuries-old architecture, crumbling churches and cobbled streets leading to the river, but underwhelming compared to the Portuguese bastions of Goa and Essaouira. It does though make a welcome change from the big city life of Argentina.
PS I am pizzad off with pizza
(c) Justin Walley & morethanagame.info
A fantastic atmosphere at the first semi final of the Copa America on Tuesday night as a large contingent of fans from both Uruguay and Peru created the best two-sided support in the tournament to date, singing their hearts out and really adding to the expectation in La Plata.
Peru played well in the early exchanges and were unlucky not to take the lead. In fact, their star man Vargas was looking like the best player on the park until Peru began to gift possession after the half hour mark and a Uruguay victory started to look increasingly inevitable.
It's like good cop, bad cop in the Uruguayan front line with Diego Forlan forever cool, calm and collected, while his strike partner Luis Suarez spends as much time thumping the turf in frustration and arguing with the ref as he does actually doing the things he is really very good at, namely scoring goals. Indeed, in the second half Suarez cut out most of the childish rants and knocked in both of the Uruguayan goals, thanks in no small part to his partner in crime, Forlan.
It was noticeable that a lot of European journalists have suddenly begun to appear in Argentina for the final stages; two weeks ago members of the written press from Europe numbered barely a dozen.
I was sat at the La Plata match with a press representative from Hungary and Denmark's only accredited journalist at the tournament. Many high profile press people seem to have booked up for the semi finals and final expecting to watch the likes of Brasil and Argentina. You've got to laugh really.
It was 2am by the time we were back in Buenos Aires. Thankfully, German Andy saved me from the horrors of the flooded refugee hostel and put me up at his flat. Four hours of sleep later it was down to the international ferry terminal by taxi for the 8am catamaran to Uruguay, where More Than A Game is enjoying a brief break from the Copa America for three days before this weekend's final.
It is fair to say that the boat was packed out with some very happy Uruguayans on their way home after their team's 2-0 semi final win, many of whom will be making the 50 kilometre return trip across the muddy waters of the River Plate once again this weekend.
Down at the accreditation centre things start well: they give me my accreditation for Copa America 2011 and all the various books and bits of paper that journalists are normally given. However, when it comes to me getting my ticket to the opening match between Argentina and Bolivia there is a problem: apparently I should have applied seperately online for the matches I wish to attend. "It is too late for the first match, maybe the second you get ticket."
I try in vain to get them to change their minds with my sob story but nothing is going. About to give up, I reckon it is worth one last effort and luckily stumble across a young bloke called Juan in the press centre. Not only is Juan the best English speaker I have so far come across in Argentina, but he is also a legend with the patience of a saint. He takes my details and puts me on the hard-luck-story list for special reconsideration. The list grows to around 50 other journalists, mostly from Bolivia and Argentina, who have also buggered up. 3 hours later, having become part of the furniture in the press centre and having also watched several reruns of Argentina´s most famous club, River Plate, being relegated to the second division for the first time in 110 years, our gang of hardluckers are asked to meet some officials of the Argentine FA. The beautiful sight of a match ticket to the opening game of the Copa America being passed to me is reward for another hour of queueing. I am starting to understand that if you have a problem in South America, you need to stick to your guns. If at first you don´t succeed...
More than a game is going to La Plata on friday!