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Power ranking the Copa America's 7 best performers so far

Teams have set out with a defensive mindset in this year’s tournament, meaning no strikers feature.

Updated at 11.33

7. Jose Gimenez – Uruguay

Chile Soccer Copa America Uruguay Paraguay Giménez heads in the opener against Paraguay. Source: Andre Penner

IT SAYS SOMETHING about the prodigious talent of the 20-year-old that he was Uruguay’s main man in Chile throughout their four games. When more experienced members of the squad went missing, Gimenez stepped up to the plate.

The Atletico Madrid centre-back scored against Paraguay, but it was the marshaling of his defence that was most impressive. He won 80% of his aerial duels and was the mainstay of a defence that conceded just two goals in their four tournament games. Uruguay may have crashed out with a bit of a whimper, but it was through no fault of their young defender.

It raised eyebrows when Atletico allowed Toby Alderweireld to leave on loan to Southampton last season, but they must have been aware of how talented their young Uruguayan was and consequently, weren’t afraid to give him a regular role in the side.

6. Carlos Sanchez – Colombia

Chile Soccer Copa America Brazil Colombia Sánchez holds off Brazil's Fernandinho. Source: Jorge Saenz

Colombia only conceded one goal throughout the tournament (excluding penalties), oddly enough against Venezuela, while being able to shackle the attacking threats of both Brazil and Peru in the group stages.

The fact that they only scored one goal and managed to qualify for the quarter-final stages of the tournament is testament to how solid they were at the back, and Sanchez was the man that provided the guard in front of their back four.

The Aston Villa midfielder averaged an outstanding five tackles per game, while he also ranked second highest in the squad for interceptions, averaging 2.7 per game.

The 29-year-old was the epitome of an effective defensive midfielder throughout the group stages, and he was missed badly through suspension, as the Colombians exited the tournament against Argentina in Sanchez’s absence.

5. Ezequiel Garay – Argentina

Chile Soccer Copa America Argentina Uruguay Source: Natacha Pisarenko

Having impressed at the 2014 World Cup last summer, Garay is continuing where he left off in this year’s Copa America.

Although Argentina are in the semi-finals of the competition, star players such as Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero have impressed sporadically at best.

Consequently, the reason for the team’s success is largely owing to their solid foundation.

A bad final half hour in their opening fixture against Paraguay aside, Gerardo Martino’s men have looked thoroughly composed at the back throughout the tournament.

Indeed, since that first match, Argentina have not conceded a single goal (excluding penalty shoot-outs), and Garay — along with the similarly impressive Nicolás Otamendi — has been an integral part of their impressive backline.

4. Arturo Vidal – Chile

Chile Soccer Copa America Chile Ecuador Vidal has three goals to his name already. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Despite the trouble Vidal caused in his home country after he crashed his car allegedly under the influence of alcohol, he has gone about his business quite effectively on the field. A half-time substitution in the 5-0 victory over Bolivia aside, the midfielder has been superb.

In the opening game of the tournament, it was the Juventus star who eased his team into their stride, winning a penalty before converting it himself to register their first goal.

He also put in a faultless performance against Mexico in Chile’s second group game, scoring two goals and generally having the upperhand over the Mexican midfield.

This tournament has proved to be a bit tame, at least initially, with Jorge Sampaoli’s being involved in just under a third of its goals so far. A dominant midfielder, who also provides an attacking edge, could therefore be key to winning it.

3. Carlos Zambrano — Peru

Chile Soccer Copa America Colombia Peru Zambrano slides in to tackle Colombia's Santiago Arias. Source: Natacha Pisarenko

Zambrano has been immense for the Peruvians as they’ve advanced to the last four of the tournament in a highly efficient manner. Clean sheets against Venezuela and Colombia in their final two games ensured their progress to the quarter-final, and they were always likely to beat Bolivia once they got there.

Zambrano has been the rock in their defence, averaging the most clearances per game (four) and winning 75% of his aerial duels too. The 25-year-old was immense in their quarter-final victory over the Bolivians, winning the ball at the back, before bringing it out and helping set the wheels of attack in motion for his side.

He will have his hands full with a Chile attack that likes to switch things up and drag defenders out of position, but another solid defensive effort from the Eintracht Frankfurt centre-back and his colleagues could see them secure a surprise appearance in the Copa América final.

2. Paolo da Silva – Paraguay

Chile Soccer Copa America Brazil Paraguay Source: Silvia Izquierdo

In a tournament featuring more than a few world-class players, not many would have expected a 35-year-old who plays his club football in Mexico to stand out.

Yet former Sunderland man Da Silva has been a revelation at the back amid Paraguay’s impressive march to the semi-finals of the competition.

Despite reaching the twilight years of his career, he has shown impressive resilience and a continuing ability to cope with playing at a high level, starting every game for the Paraguayans, who remain unbeaten after four matches.

And while he was consistently solid and assured in all three group games, it wasn’t until the quarter-finals that he truly shone, largely dominating Brazil’s highly-rated attack and restricting them to very few chances over the course of the game.

1. Jorge Valdivia – Chile

Chile Soccer Copa America Chile Bolivia Valdivia has been the best attacking player at the Copa América so far. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Valdivia is not too well-known around the world, but he has lit up the Copa America so far, and is arguably the player of the tournament up to this point.

The 31-year-old, who will play his club football in the United Arab Emirates next season, is top of the assists charts so far, registering three, while he has also created the highest number of goalscoring opportunities for his side, averaging five per game.

Furthermore, Valdivia has provided a fine link between the midfield and attack, and his understanding with Alexis Sanchéz and Eduardo Vargas is key to Chile’s fluidity.

Jorge Sampaoli’s men have a fantastic chance to win their first-ever Copa América, and being on home soil will surely be a significant advantage for them. Moreover, having their Al Wahda-bound attacker in such good form is an even bigger plus.

Additional reporting by Paul Fennessy

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