Bielsa Ends Brazil Curse as Uruguay Advances in Copa America

Sergio Rochet (Uruguay) and Endrick (Brazil)
Sergio Rochet (Uruguay) and Endrick (Brazil) (PC: Uruguay and X)

Marco Bielsa has done it. For the first time in his managerial career, he has defeated Brazil in the Copa America as Uruguay triumphed 0-0 (4-2) on penalties in the quarterfinals of the ongoing tournament. In the 1999 Copa quarterfinal, the Selecao defeated Bielsa’s Argentina 2-1. The most heartbreaking loss of his career came in the 2004 Copa America final, where Adriano scored a goal in injury time to take the game to a shootout, leading to Brazil’s victory.

But today, Bielsa’s redemption is complete; his Brazil curse at Copa America is broken. His Uruguay team held their nerve and emerged victorious in the penalty shootout at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now, they are set to face in-form Colombia in the semifinal, who thrashed Panama 5-0 in the quarters. Brazil was without their star player, Vinicius Jr., due to a yellow card accumulation. As Selecao coach Dorival Junior explained, the young prodigy Endrick started the game.

Bielsa opted for a new 4-3-3 formation instead of his usual 4-2-3-1, and his team did not disappoint. In contrast, Dorival continued with his 4-2-3-1 formation, but Brazil struggled to find the net despite creating chances throughout the game. In the first half, La Celeste employed their typical physical approach, with in-form Darwin Nunez threatening Brazil’s defence right away. However, Dorival’s men dealt with the threats efficiently, and in the first 30 minutes, neither side created any significant chances.

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Uruguay after defeating Brazil in Copa America 2024
Uruguay after defeating Brazil in Copa America 2024 (PC: Uruguay/X)


Unfortunately, in the 31st minute, Uruguay defender Ronald Araujo went down after completing a block and appeared to be in pain. After receiving medical attention, Jose Gimenez replaced him as Araujo left the pitch in tears. Four minutes later, Nunez had a chance to break the deadlock but failed to keep the ball on target. Despite the end-to-end action, especially in the last 10 minutes of the half, it ended goalless.

In the second half, Brazil played in small, tight spaces to initiate quick counter-attacks, but both teams continued to struggle to penetrate the final third. The battle for midfield dominance was intense, leading to frequent fouls. The referee showed a total of four yellow cards (two to each team) and a red card to Uruguay’s Nahitan Nandez in the 74th minute for a reckless challenge on Rodrygo. In the 82nd minute, Savinho came on but struggled to make an immediate impact, and the game ended 0-0 after 90 minutes, leading to a penalty shootout.

One of Brazil’s most dependable players, Eder Militao, took a penalty, but Uruguay goalkeeper Sergio Rochet saved his shot, giving his team an edge. Then, Douglas Luiz hit the post, Allison kept Brazil in the game by saving Gimenez’s penalty. However, he couldn’t repeat this against Manuel Ugarte, whose goal sealed Brazil’s fate. Uruguay qualified for the semifinals, but Araujo’s injury might be a concern for Marco Bielsa. However, the FC Barcelona defender was seen walking off the field rather than being stretchered off, so the severity of his injury remains to be seen ahead of the clash with Colombia. 

Meanwhile, for Brazil, their full focus now will be on the qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup as they are currently in the 6th position in the table with just 7 points in six games (2 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses). Interestingly, one of those defeats came in November 2023 when Biela’s Uruguay side thrashed them 2-0 and Nunez was the star with a goal and an assist. 

Also Read: Copa America 2024: Bielsa and Nunez eye Brazil scalp