As the footballing powerhouses of South America prepare to battle for the 44th Copa America, here are the potential group toppers from the three groups. The tournament features 12 teams and kicks-off on Friday 12th June with host nation Chile facing Ecuador in Santiago.
Group A; Chile, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia
In Group A it’s impossible to look past Chile. They are of course the hosts of the tournament they’ll have the majority of their fans supporting them and as we’ve seen in the past the 12th man is massive for teams. Chile has never won the Copa America and this seems to be their best chance yet, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Bravo and Eduardo Vargas in their squad they should easily see off the Group A competition.
On paper some may think Mexico could cause them a challenge, however, they’ve left their best players at home resting for the Gold Cup later this summer. Recent form however is a worry for La Roja, they lost 2-0 to Iran and 1-0 to Brazil in the lead up to the competition and in their most recent fixture only narrowly beat El Salvador 1-0. Despite this, though, I’m still tipping Chile to top Group A.
Group B; Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Jamaica
Argentina are arguably the favourites to win the tournament, having come runner-ups in the World Cup last year and have won all but two of their games since that defeat to Germany, a loss they will be keen to put behind them in Chile.
Lionel Messi is currently unstoppable having just guided Barcelona to a treble in a quite frankly remarkable season for the little magician. He comes to the tournament in fantastic form. Added to this is the talent of Sergio Aguero, a clinical finisher, who, towards the end of the season couldn’t stop scoring. Their midfield is resilient and with Mascherano and Gago likely to anchor the midfield, they'll be solid in that area of the pitch. It's a pairing that mixes creativity with strength and power.
Uruguay are going to be the biggest threat to La Albicelestes, however, they are missing their main player - Luis Suarez. The defending champions will look to Edinson Cavani to lead the line, with the onus on him to fill Suarez’s shoes. If Uruguay are to top Group B he will need to be on top form. For me, though, Argentina will win Group B.
Group C; Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Venezuela
Group C looks a mouthwatering group; Brazil will be looking to bounce back from embarrassment at the World Cup, whilst Colombia will be looking to upset the odds and finish leading the group. Whereas Peru and Venezuela will be keen to cause an upset – one they are both capable of doing.
Brazil are very much a new team with a new look. Dunga has replaced Scolari and the team look rejuvenated. They’ve beaten France, Colombia, Argentina and Chile since *that* 7-1 defeat in the World Cup and with Neymar in the form of his life the Selecao will be out for redemption. It won't be easy though. Colombia were not a one tournament wonder. Their team is full of talent that will cause any side problems. The form and fitness of Falcao will be pivotal and if he can rekindle his goal scoring form and the likes of Cuadrado, Bacca, Ospina and Martinez are on top of their game they could overcome Brazil and top the group. There's no doubting that when they're in full flow, Colombia are one of the most attractive and entertaining teams to watch. This is why I’m tipping Colombia to top the group, letting my heart rule my head!
Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below!
By Callum Read – @