Will Messi Inspire Argentina to Copa America Victory?

This coming weekend, the Copa America 2019 tournament will get underway in Brazil, with Chile the defending champions having won both of the last two tournaments (which were held in 2015 and 2016). A total of 12 teams, the 10 CONMEBOL teams plus two invited teams Japan and Qatar, will battle it out for one of the oldest international trophies in World Football.

Alongside the host nation Brazil, who are heavily fancied to win the tournament despite the loss of their star man Neymar through injury in the build-up to the tournament, the likes of Uruguay and Argentina, inspired by their Barcelona-based pair of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi respectively, will be amongst the teams hoping to land the trophy when the final is contested at the Maracana on July 7th.

The tournament is the biggest international football tournament being played this summer in men’s football and will attract plenty of interested punters, from all over the world, into having a bet on the event.

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Copa America 2019

Coming three years after the last tournament (but with the next Copa America slated to take place next year in Argentina & Colombia), the Copa America is a tournament that pre-dates the World Cup, with the very first tournament taking place in 1916.

However, due to a number of different factors, it has not been played uniformly every few years since, often with different gaps between events, and long periods when the tournament did not take place at all. However, in recent times, the tournament has been held more regularly, played every two years from 1987 to 2001, then every 3 years from 2001 to 2011 and then a four-year gap between 2011 and 2015. The next tournament will take place in 2020 in Argentina and Colombia, with the one after that four years later in Ecuador.]

Uruguay are the most successful team in the Copa America history with 15 wins in the tournament and six runners up finishes. Argentina are second with 14 wins and 14 runners up finishes, while Brazil lag some way behind their two rivals with just 8 wins and 11 runners up finishes.

Outside of the big three in South American football Paraguay, Chile and Peru have all won the tournament twice, with Colombia and Bolivia winning once. Of the CONMEBOL members, Venezuela and Ecuador are the only teams never to win it, both managing a best ever performance of a fourth placed finish.

In recent times, the tournament has opened invitations to teams from around the world to participate in the tournament and this year Japan and Qatar will make up the two additional teams taking part.

Draw & Fixtures for the Group Stage

Group A

  • Brazil
  • Bolivia
  • Venezuela
  • Peru

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

The hosts have been handed a very straightforward group and even without Neymar, Brazil should win all three of their games to top the group. It should be tight behind the host nation, but I fancy Peru to just about do enough to pip Venezuela and Bolivia to second. Whether Venezuela and Bolivia can take one of the two third-placed qualification spots available will likely depend on the result of the match between the two.

Group B

  • Argentina
  • Colombia
  • Paraguay
  • Qatar

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

Although a trickier group than Brazil have, especially with Colombia in attendance, I still feel that Argentina should qualify from the group relatively comfortably. I can see them beating Qatar and Paraguay and that means even if they draw with Colombia, they should progress. Colombia are a tricky one, a very talented side with some good players, but they do find wins hard to come by. I still feel they’ll take second in this group with Paraguay a distant third.

Group C

  • Uruguay
  • Ecuador
  • Japan
  • Chile

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

For me, this is the most difficult to predict of all the groups as I feel the teams are much more evenly matched. Ecuador I think will be the strugglers here, but even they are stronger than some of the other teams in the other groups and I fancy them to pick up a couple of points. Chile I also feel will struggle with an ageing team. Uruguay should top the group, but I feel Japan could be a surprise here and could sneak second in the group to make it into the knockout phase of the tournament.

Knockout Phase

The top two teams in each group along with the two best third placed sides will playoff in the quarterfinals which will see a seeded draw which has already been made. From then on it is a straight one-legged knockout, with extra time and penalties used to decide the winner.

Copa America 2019 Odds

Odds provided from bet365 Sport and were correct as of 1pm on Wednesday 12th June 2019.

  • Brazil – 11/10 favourites
  • Argentina – 7/2
  • Uruguay – 7/1
  • Colombia – 9/1
  • Chile – 12/1
  • Peru – 25/1
  • Paraguay – 33/1
  • Venezuela, Ecuador – 40/1
  • Bolivia – 66/1
  • Japan – 80/1
  • Qatar – 100/1

Brazil are the clear favourites and it is not difficult to see why. A stellar World Cup Qualifying campaign and with the team being on home soil, does mean Brazil have the advantages and you can add to that the benefit of a very easy group in the opening stage of the tournament.

However, Brazil have a track record of imploding on home soil in big tournaments and with Neymar’s absence likely to be keenly felt in attack, I feel that they could well come unstuck with a potential semifinal against Argentina being a game I feel they are most likely to fall short in.

Lionel Messi has not yet showed his undoubted class for Argentina in winning a major tournament and time is not on his side. However, I feel that something is due to turn for him at international level and I think with Neymar absent, he will be the key man, carrying Argentina to the trophy on the home soil of their greatest rivals.

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