Group C Preview
Looking at this year’s Copa America Group C at first glance, you might be forgiven to suggest Mexico and Uruguay are favourites but underestimating the other two countries – Jamaica and Venezuela would be an error, a grave one at that.
Mexico can channel all their energy towards the Copa America as they have already qualified for the 2018 World Cup and in Javier Hernandez and Miguel Layun, they have two players who enjoyed a superb season. Chicharito was voted Bundesliga Player of the Month for three consecutive times near the end of 2015 as he enjoyed resurgence for Bayer Leverkusen. Another plus to Mexico is the fact that they enter the tournament on an 11-game unbeaten run in competitive games, including eight wins in a row. They are yet to concede a goal in five games under manager Juan Carlos Osorio . It is also important to note that Mexico will have a huge crowd backing them every time as they play group matches in Glendale, Pasadena and Houston.
Having said this, winning the group will be far from easy for Mexico as their major challenger for the top position Uruguay also boast of some of the finest players in World football. Uruguay has a long history of Copa America success and Suarez, whose participation is still uncertain will be hoping to make up for lost time after he was suspended for last year’s edition [you know for attempting to eat Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil]. With or without Suarez, Uruguay will be armed with the solid duo of Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez at the back and Edison Cavani (who is riding a hot streak heading into the tournament, with five goals in his last four appearances with the French champions) and Abel Hernandez upfront.
If the 2015 Gold Cup is anything, Jamaica is a dark horse to make some noise in the tournament. And in Wes Morgan, they have someone who knows one or two things about defying the odds to achieve the seemingly impossible.
Venezuela though with an abject World Cup qualification history have shown they can be formidable when the Copa comes to town. The talent is there for coach Rafael Dudamel; striker Salomon Rondon of West Brom is a handful for any defense, 18-year-old Adalberto Penaranda scored four goals at Granada this past season, and captain Tomas Rincon brings experience in the midfield. This is not a team to overlook.
Predicted Top Two
Group D Preview
Group D is another straightforward group that is bound to give some brilliant clashes. The biggest game of the group and probably the group stage of this year’s Copa America gets taken care of right from the onset. The group is all about Repeat, Revenge, Redemption and Recognition. Repeat of last year’s final; Revenge for Argentina – last year’s beaten finalist; Redemption for Leo Messi. Will the five-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner who is recognized around the globe as a phenomenal talent get to win a major international title with Argentina? Recognition for the other two countries in the group – Bolivia and Panama, both of whom will be eager to earn the respect of the rest of the soccer world despite not being able to challenge for a spot in the knockout rounds. This group’s got it all!
Chile and Argentina will battle for the top spot in this group with Bolivia and Panama sitting around playing for the third spot. The first game featuring the potential top two sides in the group will determine who finishes top. The talent on display makes this match worth watching, regardless of the end result. Gerardo Martino’s Argentina boasts not only Messi, but Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore, among other exceptional players. Chile’s title defense is led by the likes of Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez and Gary Medel. Can’t wait for this game.
Panama was close to making the finals of the Gold Cup last year but for a last minute penalty conceded. They eventually won the third place play-off beating the United States in the process. Their physicality has the potential to play a role in any upset they produce; they’re no strangers to hard-fought contests and don’t shy away from disciplinary action.
Bolivia will be the whipping-team of this group. Their squad is currently in transition having lost top striker Marcelo Martins (54 appearances) and former captain Ronald Raldes (89 appearances) to international retirement in September. Forward Juan Carlos Arce of the domestic league is now the team’s most-capped player, with 50, while nine on the 23-man roster have four appearances or fewer. This competition should be an ‘enjoyment ground’ for them. they have nothing to lose.
Predicted Top Two
The Copa America is upon us, and although, it would be played in the ungodly hours of the night, all the games are worth waking up to watch. We don’t know what to expect yet but we can only hope the 100th edition of this competition would produce sparky moments. We wish all the Arsenal players participating in this competition all the best.
Note to Arsenal Players:
Abeg, if u no go win Copa America, no carry injury. Alexis, na you I dey follow talk.