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.
Argentina come into this tournament as the overwhelming favourites despite being drawn with defending champions Chile in the same group. When your team boasts an attacking force of Leo Messi and Sergio Aguero and then have back up attacking talent like Higuain, Lavezzi, Di Maria, Lamela, Gaitan, Lamela, Banega and Pastore; you should definitely be considered favourites for the tournament. Argentina come into this tournament after being runners-up for the 3 out of the last 4 tournaments. They have won 4 straight games in a row after beating Honduras, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia. Argentina will battle it out with their neighbours Chile, and it will be the weakness of Argentina on the defensive end which will be their fear with poor performing players like Otamendi, Rojo, Funes Mori while goalkeeper Romero has hardly played in 2016 for his club. I expect Argentina to qualify to the next round.
Chile look good coming into this tournament until they blipped since November 2016 where they have lost 4 out of their last 5 games including against Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina and Jamaica. The good thing is that they lost the 2 games against Mexico and Jamaica in the friendlies and now know what needs to be done in order to improve. Their biggest opportunity will be defensively as that is the area they have struggled with Isla, Beausajor, Medel and Jara partnering in the back four. The core of their team who have been leading them to good performances over the last few years in Vidal, Sanchez, Vargas and Angaruiz will relied a lot to carry this experienced team to the next stage. Chile have shown in the last few tournaments that they are extremely adept on winning tournaments especially if they can keep their back line tight and then score on the counter attack. Their never say die attitude has seen them progress big time in many tournaments, and I expect them to put on a tough fight Argentina and possibly get a draw to set them up to possibly win the group.
Panama honestly in my opinion are just making up the numbers and are not expected to qualify out of the group. They will look to push on with some good performances against group favourites Argentina and Mexico. Panama have a lot of players playing in North America particularly the MLS & Mexico with the likes of Quintero, Perez, Tejada, Torres and Baloy to help them take their experience and try to help the team win. Panama have recently played Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and have failed to beat any of these teams, and I cannot see them create an impact in this group.
Bolivia have a team of extremely young players with the most experienced cap is that of 49 caps belonging to forward Juan Arce. A lot of players have deserted the squad and they have been forced to go with this squad. The team have struggled and sitting in 9th spot in the World Cup Qualification group from South America. Their players are primarily based on Bolivia which won’t give them too much top level experience to discuss about. They will be going all out against Panama to see who finishes 3rd in this group, so you an expect an exciting performance in that game. The team have recently lost 4 on the trot to Brazil, Argentina, USA and Paraguay; and I don’t see them being able to get out of this group at all.
Chile/Argentina Straight Forecast @ 3.75 (Betfair) – 1 point
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