A Stellar Cast But Who Will Win Copa America 2019?
The football season may be over for another year, which of course means that there’s still plenty of football to enjoy! Although the top European teams will be done for the season following the final Euro 2020 qualifiers and the culmination of the Nations League at the weekend, teams in South America are gearing up for a busy summer with the start of the 2019 Copa America.
Host nation Brazil are the heavy favourites to win the tournament after they romped away with the qualification tournament for the last World Cup. Despite this, the Brazilians do not have the best of records in their continental tournament and of course, playing on home soil for the first time since the 2014 World Cup Finals, which ended in that ignominious 7-1 semifinal defeat to Germany brings with it its own pressure.
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Let’s first preview the tournament, how it is organised, what the groups are and who is competing, before we bring you our top tips for the tournament itself.
Copa America 2019
South America’s biggest international tournament is not just open to teams from CONMEBOL, but in addition two invited teams, Japan and Qatar will participate in the tournament alongside the ten teams that make up the CONMEBOL association.
The teams were drawn this past January into three groups of four, with the three top seeds, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay all decided by their FIFA World Ranking. The result of the draw saw the teams drawn into the following groups:
Group A Fixtures
- June 14th – Brazil v Bolivia
- June 15th – Venezuela v Peru
- June 18th – Bolivia v Peru
- June 18th – Brazil v Venezuela
- June 22nd – Peru v Brazil
- June 22nd – Bolivia v Venezuela
Group B Fixtures
- June 15th – Argentina v Colombia
- June 16th – Paraguay v Qatar
- June 19th – Colombia v Qatar
- June 19th – Argentina v Paraguay
- June 23rd – Qatar v Argentina
- June 23rd – Colombia v Paraguay
Group C Fixtures
- June 16th – Uruguay v Ecuador
- June 17th – Japan v Chile
- June 20th – Uruguay v Japan
- June 21st – Ecuador v Chile
- June 24th – Chile v Uruguay
- June 24th – Ecuador v Japan
The top two teams in each group will qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament along with two of the best third placed teams. The knockout phase begins with the quarterfinals with the winning teams moving on to the semifinals and so on.
The draw seems to have handed Brazil a huge advantage as they have drawn three of the traditionally weaker teams in South American football in the group stage and will likely play a third-place finisher from either Group B or C in the quarterfinals. The teams in the other groups face a much tougher prospect in the group stages than the hosts, although the likes of Argentina and Uruguay are expected to make it through their group relatively comfortably.
The winners of the last two Copa America tournaments, Chile, have had their struggles of late and could find themselves in real trouble in Group C, which looks the toughest of all of the three groups in the group stage.
The quarter finals are scheduled to be played from June 27th to June 29th, with the semifinals on July 2nd and 3rd. The third place playoff takes place on 6th July, with the final a day later at the Maracana Stadium in Rio on the 7th July.
The genuine contenders?
Although the Copa America has produced its fair share of surprises over the years, not least Brazil’s struggles in the tournament, the bookmakers reckon it will be the most familiar names in with a chance of landing the trophy.
Latest Bookmakers Odds to win Copa America 2019 outright
- Brazil – 5/4
- Argentina – 15/4
- Uruguay 7/1
- Colombia – 8/1
- Chile 11/1
- 20-1 bar
After failing at the Group Stage in the 2016 Copa America, Brazil have plenty to put right on home soil but they will have to do it without their star man Neymar, who was ruled out of the tournament through injury a few days ago. Even so, the quality in the Brazil squad is still staggeringly deep and they are clearly the favourites having dominated World Cup Qualifying in this section and with the tournament on home soil.
Key Man – Philippe Coutinho – With Neymar absent more will rest on Barcelona’s midfielder to be Brazil’s creative influence.
Beaten in the final on penalties by Chile in 2016, Argentina will hope Lionel Messi can inspire them to a Copa America title this time around. The Barcelona legend has come back from international retirement but has yet to show his Barcelona form for his country. If he can do this in Brazil, then he could be the only barrier towards the host nation lifting the trophy.
Key Man – Lionel Messi – The world’s best ever footballer is now in his 30s, but he is still capable of beating any team on his own with moments of pure genius.
Another team that were shock first round exiters in the last tournament in 2016. Uruguay have a generally good record in this tournament and are no stranger to winning in Brazil, winning the World Cup there in 1950. A vastly experience team, this may be the last chance for their golden era of players including Godin, Suarez and Cavani to shine at the highest level.
Key Man – Luis Suarez – Another Barcelona star who has incredible ability and a fantastic scoring record for his country. If he can find his best form, Uruguay could be a contender.
Losing semi-finalists the last time this tournament was held, Colombia boast some talented players in the likes of Milan defender Zapata, Monaco striker Radamel Falcao and Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez. On their day they can be a threat for any team but they perhaps just lack that star quality that the other top sides in the tournament possess.
Key Man – James Rodriguez – Having spent two years on loan at Bayern Munich, Rodriguez is in the shop window thi summer and another good tournament will see Colombia and his own personal fortunes revived.
Surprise winners of the last two Copa America tournaments , Chile’s mentality has been based on being hard to beat and sprinkling that pragmatism with a touch of class in key areas. Vidal and Sanchez are the key men for the team, many of whom are now pushing on past their 30th birthdays. For me, this could be a tournament to far for a couple of them.
Key Man – Alexis Sanchez – The Man Utd man is the highest paid Premier League player but has not showed it this season. He’ll need to show why if Chlle are to enjoy any degree of success this summer.
Our Tip – Brazil seem to be the choice for the smart money and it is not difficult to see why with seemingly so many things going in their favour, but something tells me playing on home soil just doesn’t suit Brazil, so I am backing Argentina to claim this thanks to Messi at 15/4.