With the start of the 2015 Copa America approaching, here is a list of a few players to keep an eye on during the tournament. Obviously we all know the headline acts, Barcelona’s Messi and Neymar, who’ll represent Argentina and Brazil respectively, Arsenal’s star Alexis Sanchez and Colombia’s superstar James Rodriquez, but there's a few lesser-known players to look out for. Here's three I decided to cover:
Firstly, Brazil and Hoffenheim’s Roberto Firmino. The 23-year-old attacking midfielder has caught the eye of many of Europe’s elite this season for his exceptional performances. Firmino is relatively new to the international stage and has made five appearances for the Canarinho scoring two goals. The Brazilian has reached double figures in both assists and goals this season in all competitions and is an all round threat. He has the ability to beat a man completing 140 take-ons. He can also create a goal scoring opportunity with 69 chances created this season, the next closest Hoffenheim player is Kevin Volland on 46. Firmino is by far and away Hoffenheim’s best attacking threat and this summer he will have a chance to prove it to Dunga and those watching around the world.
Mexico faces a dilemma this summer as they are competing in both the Copa America and the Gold Cup. If Mexico reach the final of the Copa America they will have just a three day rest until the Gold Cup gets underway. With this in mind, Miguel Herrera won’t be taking his star names to Chile meaning the likes of Javier Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos will be watching from home. Mexico will be looking for a goal scorer, though. Look no further than Pumas UNAM striker Eduardo Herrera.
Herrera is late to the international scene at the age of 26. He has only made three appearances for Mexico, he boasts three international goals from his small handful of caps. He isn’t blessed with technical ability but the striker knows where the back of the net is. This season for Pumas he’s scored 19 goals in 42 games in all competitions. In comparison to the other two strikers selected from Liga MX, he is certainly the most prolific of the three. Vicente Vuoso scored 10 goals in 34 games whilst Enrique Esqueda scored 10 in 38. Herrera offers something completely different to other Mexican strikers. The graft he puts in on the pitch has given him the strength to push off defenders whilst his speed enables him to get in behind them. If El Tri are to make memories this Copa America Herrera’s involvement could be key to this.
The final one to watch is Ecuador’s Miler Bolanos. A versatile attacking threat, Bolanos can play behind the striker, on the wing, or in his most effective position – as a central striker. The 25-year-old has been in scintillating form for club side Emelec and has scored 21 goals in 32 games in all competitions. Bolanos can also drop deep and turn provider contributing 12 assists this season for Emelec. His movement off the ball and well-timed runs combined with his pace makes him a handful for opposition defenders. He currently only has two international caps to his name scoring one goal against Argentina in April. Bolanos has only recently come into the limelight after a disappointing stay at Chivas USA he moved to Ecuadorian club Emelec where coach Gustavo Quinteros has helped him fulfil his potential. Quinteros is now in charge of La Tri so the two could now work their magic on the international scene.
By Callum Read – @