The 46th edition of the Conmebol event will see Qatar and Japan taking part as guest nations.
It’s already been three years since the tournament celebrated its Centenario(100 years) in 2016 and another edition of the Copa America is upon us. Scheduled to begin on June 15th the quadrennial event will be played in Brazil this time around.
The organisers have also included Asian champions Qatar and Japan in this year’s event which promises to be another thrilling encounter with people around the world tuning into to see some of the best and exciting players in action.
Here we take a look at five matches in the group stage which can leave fans on the edge of their seats and set the stage for the knockout rounds
Argentina vs Colombia
As is the case with any big football tournament, all eyes will be on Lionel Messi and the question on everyone’s lips will be whether he can guide his country to an international trophy in 32 years. Messi has come close, finishing runners-up in three consecutive years in the FIFA World Cup 2014, Copa America 2015 and Copa America Centenario 2016, but international glory has somehow always eluded him.
Copa America 2015 Quarterfinal: Argentina vs Colombia Penalty Shoot Out
Argentina will look to set the record straight but they start their campaign against the Colombian side which can upset anyone on their day. With James Rodrigues and Radamel Falcao in their side, they will be confident they can get a result against Argentina. Both Argentina and Colombia had a disastrous FIFA World Cup 2018 and will be looking to get off to a good start making this a stand-out fixture in the group stages.
Chile vs Uruguay
Uruguay have won the Copa America a record 15 times so it’s needless to say that this is a tournament they enjoy. They had a brilliant FIFA World Cup 2018 as well in which they knocked out Portugal and only lost out to eventual Champions France in the quarterfinals.
With Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani leading the attack and Diego Godin and Jose Giminez fortifying the defence, Uruguay will be one of the prime contenders in this year’s tournament. Chile failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup but they had won back-to-back Copa America titles in 2015 and 2016 beating Argentina on both occasions in a penalty shootout.
Alexis Sanchez has had a torrid time at Manchester United and international duty will come as a welcome change for him. With experienced players like Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas in their ranks, Chile will be looking to bury the demons of failing to qualify for the World Cup by doing well in a tournament as they are the defending champions.
This promises to be an exciting contest and teams would do well not to underestimate Chile as they have shown in passed editions that they can giant killers on their day.
Brazil vs Peru
As is often the case, Brazil starts as favourites for Copa America 2019. They had a disappointing World Cup 2018 by their lofty standards and lost out to Belgium in the knockout stages but there’s no denying the fact that this Brazil team is one of the best in recent times.
Brazil defeated Peru 2-1 in their opening 2015 Copa America game
Neymar has been ruled out due to injury but there are some potent players in the line up who can singlehandedly alter the course of a match. All eyes will be on Coutinho to take added responsibility in Neymar’s absence and in their opening encounter, Brazil will face a dangerous Peru side that impressed everyone at the World Cup.
Their fast attacking football frequently causes trouble for the opposition and Brazil will have to wary to avoid an upset to the start of their campaign. All in all, we can expect fireworks and an attacking match in this Group A encounter.
Japan vs Chile
Asian Cup finalists Japan will be up against defending champions Chile in this Group C match. Carrying on from last year’s World Cup, Japan have continued to impress everyone with their style of play. They narrowly missed out on a quarterfinal spot in the World Cup losing out to a last-second goal against Belgium.
They also lost the Asian Cup to Qatar but there is no doubt that Japan is a dangerous team. They beat Colombia in the World Cup becoming the first Asian team to do so and it would not come as a surprise if Japan shocks a few teams in their group. Chile will have to be watchful and both teams would look to assert themselves early on in the tournament making this an exciting fixture.
Colombia vs Paraguay
Paraguay have always performed well in big-ticket events and this Copa America should not be any different. A difficult team to beat on their day, Paraguay is likely to pose problems for some of the big teams in the competition. They notably knocked out Brazil in Copa America 2015 and were praised for their performance in the 2010 FIFA World Cup where they lost out to Spain only on penalties.
Colombia will have to put their best foot forward in order to beat Paraguay if they hope to make a strong start to the competition. It is expected to be a gritty encounter with Paraguay putting everything on the line to get a result.