The culmination of the group stages of the 2015 Copa America eventually saw few surprises, despite both Mexico and Venezuela falling at the first hurdle, and ultimately those expected to progress did so. Heavyweights Uruguay and Colombia navigated their way through Group B and C respectively by the skin of their teeth, with Ecuador’s three points allowing the aforementioned duo to secure their spot in the next round as the two best third-placed teams.
Hosts Chile were one of the stand out sides in the group stages - noted in their WhoScored rating (7.39) - and were one of three teams to come through this stage unbeaten, along with tournament favourites Argentina and underdogs Paraguay. La Roja netted more goals (10) than any other team in the group stages, with their tally representing 25% of the total of 40 goals netted so far. Given their displays, it’s no surprise that 4 of the top 10 rated players of the tournament are Chilean.
Alexis Sánchez (7.96), Arturo Vidal (7.85), Jorge Valdívia (7.80) and Charles Aránguiz (7.78) are the four to feature in the top 10 best-rated performers so far, according to WhoScored. Vidal has netted more goals (3) than any other player in the Copa America to date. A 50% conversion rate is an impressive return for the Juventus star, whose off-field problems don’t appear to be affecting his performances.
Alongside the Juve star is Aránguiz, helping to form a destructive force in the middle of the park. Vidal’s tenacity allows for the Internacional star to flex his creative muscles from deep and it’s no surprise that Aránguiz has played more key passes (9) than any other player at the Copa America. The 26-year-old enjoyed a hugely impressive 2014 World Cup and many tipped him to secure a big money switch to a top European side last summer. A move may have failed to materialise, but his performances in the heart of the Chilean midfield will likely have seen teams cast a watchful eye on the midfielder.
Aránguiz’s performances have also allowed the experienced Valdívia to flourish between the midfield and attack. The 31-year-old is one of only two players - the other being Mexico’s Adrián Aldrete - to register 2 assists at the Copa America. Only Lionel Messi (89) has played more successful passes in the final third than Valdívia (65) so far. Renowned for his creative ability, the attacker has excelled once more, though that is no shock given the quality of performers spearheading the Chile offensive.
Alexis’ boundless energy levels and constant movement make him difficult to track by opposition defenders, yet easy to pick out by his teammates. The Arsenal star has not been at his goalscoring best, but an average of 4.3 shots per game shows he is prepared to chance his luck at any given opportunity. Having also been fouled 9 times, this shows the lengths opposing sides are willing to go to limit his influence, though even without the ball, Alexis is an effective weapon to call on given his ability to drag defenders out of position.
WhoScored’s best rated player so far, however, is Argentina captain Lionel Messi, with a rating of 7.99. The Barcelona star has completed more successful dribbles (20), had more shots (17) and played more successful passes in the final third (89) than any other player. Tata’s side have struggled to impose themselves on Chile 2015 so far, netting just 4 goals - 1 of which was courtesy of Messi - but the 27-year-old is still performing to the standards expected of him, as one would imagine.
Thiago Silva and Dani Alves are the two Brazilians to feature in the top 10 best-rated players, with the former having won more aerial duels per game (6) than any other player, while his sumptuous volley in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Venezuela contributed to his rating of 7.87. Alves, meanwhile, has played more key passes from open play (8) and created more clear cut goalscoring opportunities (3) than any other player; not a bad return for a performer who was not even supposed to be at the tournament having been a late call up for the injured Danilo.
The stand out name, though, comes in the form of Jeison Murillo, whose WhoScored rating (7.87) puts him behind only Messi and Alexis in the rankings. The soon-to-be Inter centre-back has performed astutely at the heart of a Colombia backline that has conceded fewer goals (1) than any other team at the Copa America. Murillo has made more interceptions (14) than any other player at the competition, while his average of 45.7 passes per match higlight that his reading of the game and ability to play the ball out from the back are two of his strongest assets. Needless to say, Inter fans are excited about the 23-year-old’s imminent arrival at San Siro.
Looking at the team of the tournament so far, there are no real surprises in the XI, bar Jamaica’s Kemar Lawrence. Winfried Schäfer’s side were always expected to struggle in a group containing Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, but put in a good account of themselves nonetheless. Lawrence gained a better WhoScored rating (7.10) than any other left-back in the group stages of the Copa America, having averaged 2.7 tackles, 3 interceptions and 5 clearances per game in his 3 appearances at the tournament. The New York Red Bulls defender has been a consistent performer for his club this season and came into the competition in top form, which translated into a series of commendable displays for The Reggae Boyz.
The Copa America so far has been a tournament that has lived up to expectations, with the star players - the likes of Neymar and Edinson Cavani aside - performing their duties with aplomb. Holders Uruguay face hosts Chile in the first quarter-final later this week in what is set to be the beginning to a climactic end to Chile 2015.
Who have been the stand out performers of the Copa America so far? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below