On 16 March Argentina played Venezuela in a friendly match to inaugurate the new Estadio Bicentenario (Bicentenary Stadium) in San Juan that was built to host games in Copa América 2011 which kicks off in July. Manager Sergio Batista selected all of his players from Argentine domestic football, with the exception of Estudiantes and Argentinos Juniors and Estudiantes players due to their fixtures this week in Copa Libertadores 2011.
The game started well for Argentina with Boca Juniors midfielder scoring the opening goal in the 20th minute. Argentina then hit the post and had a Maxi Moralez goal incorrectly disallowed for offside before Daniel Arismendi equalised for the visitors in the 29th minute. A brace from Boca Juniors striker Pablo Mouche either side of half time re-established Argentina's control over the game before Gimnasia y Esgrima striker Luciano Aued added a fourth in the 75th minute with a nice turn and strike to add some gloss to the result. Pablo Mouche was particularly pleased with the his performance, having scored his first two goals for the Argentina national team, the second of which he dribbled from his own half before firing in a long range shot.
The first South American result from the official FIFA international break was a real shock for World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay who suffered a 2-0 defeat against Estonia in freezing conditions in Tallinn. Both of the goals came in a five minute spell in the second half with Vassiljev and Zahovaiko bagging a goal each to secure a famous victory for the tiny Baltic nation.
Bolivia suffered a 2-0 defeat in their game against Panama and Venezuela managed a 0-2 away win against Jamaica. Chile managed a creditable 1-1 draw against Portugal in Leiria. The hosts took an early lead but Chile levelled the scores before half time with a long range free kick from Matiás Fernández. Colombia recorded an impressive 2-0 win against Ecuador in Madrid. Freddy Guarín put the Colombians one goal ahead with a cracking free kick in the first half and Radamel Falcao broke the Ecuadorian defensive line and took the ball around Ecuadorian keeper Alex Domínguez in the second half.
Paraguay couldn't stop their post World Cup slump in form in their game in Mexico. The visitors were their own worst enemies in the first half conceding three goals through sloppy defending, allowing Mexican players free passage in all three goals. They pulled one back in the second half to make the score 3-1 but that too owed a lot to sloppy defending.
Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw by the United States in New Jersey. The visitors opened the scoring after some wonderful interplay between Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lionel Messi created an opportunity for Ángel Di María which Tim Howard could only parry into the path of Esteban Cambiasso who blasted the ball into the net on 41 minutes. The USA equalised from a set play, a near straight free kick from distance caused chaos in the Argentine box allowing Colombian born second half substitute Juan Agudelo to bag his second goal in only three games for the USA.
On Sunday Brazil cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win against Scotland in London with Neymar scoring both of the goals. The first was a lovely angled finish and the second was a penalty he earned for himself after Charlie Adam clipped his heels.
Bolivia avoided defeat in an away match for the first time in eight games with a 1-1 draw against Guatemala. Last time they avoided defeat on the road was with a 0-0 draw in Brazil in 2008. Ricardo Pedriel was the hero for Bolivia hitting a second half equaliser. Peru have not won against Ecuador in four games after they played out a 0-0 draw in Den Haag. Chile recorded their third consecutive win in games against Colombia and are on a run of six games without defeat after a 2-0 win in the Netherlands.
Uruguay recovered from their defeat against Estonia in freezing conditions last week to record a 2-3 win against the Republic of Ireland. Diego Lugano put the visitors into the lead but Shane Long equalised with a header only three minutes later. Uruguay scored two more before half time, a great finish from Edison Cavani and a smart dink over the goalkeeper from Abel Hernández. The Irish got a goal back early in the second half through a Keith Fahey penalty but they could not find an equaliser.
Argentina played out a dull 0-0 draw with Costa Rica, they had rested several of their key players such as Messi, Cambiasso, Zanetti and Lavezzi for the game, however a turgid goalless draw with a country ranked 49 places below them by FIFA hardly seems like good preparation for Copa América. Meanwhile Paraguay recorded an impressive 0-1 win against the USA, Argentina's last opponents. Óscar Cardozo scored the only goal of the game which demonstrated Gerardo Martino's ability to get the best out of a more technically limited squad of players than those at Argentina's disposal, through tactical discipline and strong team spirit. The result was particularly pleasing given their post World Cup slump in form.
The last game of the March friendlies was Venezuela's 1-1 draw against Mexico in California. Both of the goals came from second half corner kicks and the final result is yet another positive sign for the Venezuelans who have now matched a decent Mexico side twice this year.
For more South American football highlights, including the Argentine and Brazilian leagues, the pick of the rest and international tournaments: