The first international tournament out of 3 this summer has begun with the Copa America. This year its a special edition celebrating the 100 years of the Copa America including teams from both South America (10) and North America (6) and being played on North American shores for the first time. It promises to be an exciting tournament getting some teams/players warmed up for the Olympics while serving as good preparation for the World Cup Qualifiers for some teams.
Brazil come into this tournament as one of favourites for the tournament, and why wouldn’t they be when they have a wealth of experienced players coming into the tournament who have form behind them like Kaka, Casemiro, Jonas, Hulk, Willian, Coutinho, Alves, Felipe Luis to name a few. Brazil and Dunga have huge summer with this Copa America tournament and the Olympics coming across, and they will want to be the side to do the double and they miss their captain Neymar for this tournament who is being saved for the Olympics. Defensively they will need to rely a lot on Marquinhos and Miranda to shoulder the responsibility in the absence of Thiago with Diego Alves likely to start in goal. Brazil should bring a lot of flair on the attacking side, and if they can hold up defensively, should win this group. Brazil will definitely qualify out of this group.
Ecuador come into this game on the back of some good form in the World Cup qualifying campaign that has seen them sit 2nd in the table, with just 1 loss in 6 games played so far. Ecuador come into this game with some top talent in great form namely Enner Valencia, Antonio Valencia, Jefferson Montero, Juan Cazares, Christian Noboa showcasing their strength in attacking the game. Ecuador’s challenge has been on the defensive end as they have conceded in 5 straight games which include good teams like Uruguay, Colombia and the United States. This Ecuador team finished behind Bolivia in their last Copa America and will want to make amends for that poor form. Their recent form has picked up, and they will be hoping to take that into the competition to qualifying the second round. I expect Ecuador to have it a bit difficult, but might squeeze out of this group.
Peru have been struggling in recent years in their football as has been seen in their World Cup Qualifying, where they have only 1 game and sit in 8th spot out of 10 in the standings. Peru are not helped by the fact that their most experienced players in Juan Manuel Vargas, Claudio Pizzaro and Jefferson Farfan will not be making the trip to the US. A largely younger squad is being used by Ricardo Garcea with a lot of players under the age of 26 and based in Peru itself. Players who could make an impact in this tournament include Christian Cueva, Yoshimar Yotun, Paolo Guerrero, Adan Balbin and Raul Ruidiaz have had great seasons for their club teams and will all be expected to start and perform for Peru. They showed some promise beating Trinidad & Tobago and El Salvador, but this tournament will have much better teams. Defensively they look like they will struggle especially when most of them are based on Peru and don’t face have the higher level of football compared to the team they will face in this tournament.
Haiti are among the lowest ranked teams in this tournament, and will find it extremely difficult to match ups with the better talented players from the Southern continent. Their biggest achievement is reaching the knockout stages of the Gold Cup, but then were eliminated by Jamaica in the quarter finals. They are currently rock bottom in their World Cup Qualifying group, while not yet scoring a goal in 4 games played so far. Their key players are the ones playing at a decent level around the world including keeper/captain Johnny Placide (Reims), Wilde Guerrier (Wisla Krakow), Sonny Norde (Mohan Bugun) and Jean Sony Alcenat (Voluntari). They got beaten badly by Colombia 3-1 in their friendly and losing 4 out of their last 6 matches in a row. They will continue to build the experience of their players, but I don’t see them being able to get out of this group.
Brazil/Ecuador Straight Forecast @ 2.60 (Betfair) – 2 points
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