Waking up in cold sweats from the lack of football? Just can’t wait another week for the Euros to start? You’re in luck.
Copa America 2016, the 45th edition of South America’s premier international tournament, begins in the early hours of Saturday morning. “Copa America Centanario” is being played on the hundredth anniversary of the inaugural playing and for the first time, it will be hosted outside South America. The hosts, the United States, will face Colombia in the opening game at 2:30AM tomorrow.
Here, Rory Murphy previews all the action from the States.
Argentina, led by a certain number 10, are the overwhelming favourites after losing the final last year to Chile. Even without the magic Messi, their squad is astoundingly talented. Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi, among others, will be there to help should Messi prove to be unfit. If he does play, it’s theirs to lose. Only 15/8 with the bookies.
From an awe-inspiring squad to an underwhelming one. Brazil travel north with just three recognised strikers and without star man Neymar. Nineteen-year-old Gabriel Barbosa, dubbed the “New Neymar” will spearhead the attack while the Barcelona superstar rests up for the Olympics. Also without Douglas Costa, Thiago Silva, Marcelo and David Luiz. That last one might be a good thing actually. Still second favourites at 5/1.
Reigning champs Chile, James Rodriguez’s Colombia and dark horses Uruguay make up the top five.
What To Watch?
With the late kick-off times, unless you’re an insomniac, you’ll have to pick and choose which games to watch. Here are some of the highlights:
USA vs Colombia 2:30AM June 4th -Levi’s Stadium
Mexico vs Uruguay 1AM June 6th-University of Phoenix Stadium
Argentina vs Chile 3AM June 7th-Levi’s Stadium
Uruguay vs Venezuela 12:30AM June 10th-Lincoln Financial Field
Chile vs Bolivia 12AM June 11th-Gillette Stadium
Colombia vs Costa Rica 2AM June 12th-NRG Stadium
1st Semi Final 1AM June 22th-NRG Stadium
2nd Semi Final 12AM June 23rd-Soldier Field
Final 1AM June 27th-Metlife Stadium
Potential Breakout Stars
Almost every international tournament sees some young player show the world just how good he is and earns himself a big money move. James Rodriguez set the World Cup 2014 alight with his goals and he was soon snatched up by Real Madrid. Who will it be this time?
With Neymar sitting out the tournament, a hopes of a nation fall on the nineteen-year-old Barbosa. The Santos wonderkid has been talked up in Brazil for a long time and now, it appears, is his moment to shine.
Haiti won’t have huge ambitions for the tournament but 22-year-old Nazon could have a big few weeks. He’s impressed for his national side recently and could surprise a few.
American youngster Pulisic has turned a lot of heads recently and has featured for Dortmund this season to much acclaim. At just 17, he’s a serious prospect.
The Chile national team have had an incredible few years. Beating then World Cup winners Spain in 2014 before coming very close to knocking hosts Brazil out was backed up by winning the Copa last year. Alexis Sanchez can take much of the credit. He will try to lead Chile to back to back tournaments for the first time in their history.
His genius is beyond words but we’re still not sure if he’ll be fit. Legal troubles are also far from helpful.
With the eyes of many-a-manager watching him, can James prove he’s worth splashing the cash for?
Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani
These two have had wildly differing fortunes this season. Suarez should win the Ballon D’Or for his goalscoring exploits for Barcelona while Cavani is still stuck in the shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his inflated price tag. Both will feel that they can shine in the blue of Uruguay.
The Euros is just the start of the great international football this month.
Enjoy the Copa!