Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Copa America 2021 Preview

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Intro for Copa America

The Copa America is the oldest international football tournament in the world. The tournament is contested by nations hailing from South America and its aim is to crown the champions of that particular continent.

The 2021 Copa America will be the 47th edition of the famous competition. It will be hosted jointly by both Argentina and Colombia. 

The most successful nation in the Copa America is Uruguay, who have 15 titles to their name. They are closely followed by Argentina, who are on 14, and Brazil, who are on 9 titles. Uruguay’s last Copa America triumph was back in 2011.

Argentina will be feeling confident, playing on home turf as one of the co-hosts of the competition. Colombia, who have only one title to their name from 2001, will also be looking to use home advantage to spark an historic victory. 

Here, we’ll provide short profiles for each nation in the competition, outlining their chances and highlighting star players. We’ll also run you through the entire Copa America fixture list. 

Keep reading to find out all you need to know about the 2021 Copa America.

Team Analysis for Copa America

National team of Brazil

Brazil players in the Copa America
The Brazil team will feature many familiar faces…

Brazil are the defending Copa America champions. Their star-studded squad includes many players that Premier League fans will find familiar. 

Liverpool teammates Allison, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino are likely to be included in the 23-man squad. They’ll be joined by Chelsea defender Thiago Silva and Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus. 

Everton duo Richarlison and Allan will also likely be in the squad, along with Aston Villa playmaker Douglas Luiz. 

The Coach – Adenor Leonardo Bacchi, commonly known as Tite, has been the head coach of the Brazil national team since 2016.

Before that, he had managed a whole host of Brazilian club sides including Corinthian, Internacional and Gremio, among many more. The 2019 Copa America was his first trophy won with Brazil. 

Star Player of Brazil – Neymar is undoubtedly the superstar of Brazilian football. At 29 years of age, he is the 5th most capped Brazilian player of all time. 

He’s also second on the list of all-time top goalscorers for Brazil and is expected to beat Pele’s record of 77 before he retires. Expect him to shine this summer. 

What Brazil will do – As defending champions, there will plenty of expectation about Brazil’s prospects in this competition. 

They are easily the best team in the North Zone group and anything other than an appearance in the final will no doubt be disappointing to fans. They have what it takes to win it again. 

National team of Colombia

James Rodriguez is the standout name in Colombia’s squad…

Colombia are the co-hosts of the 2021 Copa America. Their history in the competition isn’t as glamorous as some of the others, having only won the illustrious trophy on one occasion in 2001. 

Everton duo Yerry Mina and James Rodriguez are almost certain to be involved in the squad. They could be joined by Tottenham defender Davinson Sánchez and Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos. 

The Coach – Reinaldo Rueda Rivera is the head coach of the Colombian national team. He was head coach of Colombia back in 2004 for two years.

He’s managed a few other countries and clubs since then, and in January 2021, the Colombian Football Federation welcomed Reuda back as their head coach. 

Star Player of Colombia – James Rodriguez is the poster boy of the Colombian football scene. The 29 year old lit up the 2014 World Cup, winning the Golden Boot and Best Goal of the Tournament award. 

Since then, he’s played for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and is now playing at Premier League Everton under Carlo Ancelotti.

What Colombia will do – Although the past can never predict the future, Colombia’s lack of pedigree in this competition is a concern. However, their third place finish in the 2016 Centenario will give them some hope.

They have some talented players, but there’s other nations with much better prospects for Copa America glory.

National team of Ecuador

Venezuela will be looking to upset the odds at the 2021 Copa America

Ecuador are not graced with a strong pedigree in this competition. Their best result in the Copa America is a fourth placed finish, which they achieved in both 1959 and 1993. 

They were the hosts of the competition in 1993, but haven’t done much since. Ecuador has a good mix of youth and experience and may produce a surprise or two along the way. 

The Coach – Gustavo Julio Alfaro was appointed head coach of Ecuador in 2020, after a short but successful, spell at Boca Juniors. 

The 58 year old is a vastly experienced coach and has already led the team to some impressive wins. Chief among them was a 6-1 thrashing of Colombia in November last year.

Star Player of Ecuador – Premier League fans will no doubt know who Enner Valencia is. The forward spent three years at West Ham, as well as a loan spell at Everton. 

He will undoubtedly retire from international football as the highest scoring Ecuadorian player of all time. If he’s included in the squad, he will likely lead the line at the 2021 Copa America.

What Ecuador will do – Ecuador are in the north zone group, along with the likes of Brazil and Colombia. They may have what it takes to get out of the group stage and from there, who knows?

Having already convincingly beaten Colombia relatively recently, they’ll be confident they can do it again and progress to the knockouts. 

National team of Peru

Paolo Guerrero could play in his final Copa America this summer…

Peru are two-time Copa America champions, winning in 1939 and 1975. They also got to the 2019 final, where they were beaten by reigning champions Brazil. 

They’ve also finished third on eight occasions (most recently in 2015) and have come fourth five times. They know how to be competitive in this competition and could be dark horses to win the whole thing.

The Coach – Peru head coach Ricardo Alberto Gareca Nardi has plenty of experience under his belt. The Peru gig is the first international job the Argentine has taken to date. 

He’s had a huge effect on the team, guiding them to their best finishes in the Copa America in the 21st century. 

Star Player of Peru – Peru striker and captain José Paolo Guerrero Gonzales is the one who will pull in the crowds. 

The experienced forward is third on the all-time appearances list for Peru and is the leading goalscorer. He’s a deadly finisher and will aim to fire Peru to victory in what is likely to be his final Copa America. 

What Peru will do – Given how competitive Peru have been in recent Copa America tournaments, we’re expecting another strong showing. They should comfortably progress from Group B. 

José Paolo Guerrero Gonzales was the tournament’s top scorer in 2011, 2015 and 2019 and he’ll be looking to repeat that this year. A final appearance wouldn’t be surprising. 

National team of Venezuela

Venezuela main aim will be to progress from the group stages…

Completing Group B is Venezuela, who have one of the worst records in Copa America history. Their best showing was a fourth place finish in 2011. 

They’re struggling in their qualifying group for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, containing all of the teams in this competition. They’ll open their Copa America campaign with a fixture against Brazil, which will tell us more about their overall chances.

The Coach – Venezuela head coach José Vítor dos Santos Peseiro has been managing since 1992. He was Sporting Clube de Portugal manager before taking the Venezuela job in February 2020. 

The Portuguese coach is still relatively new to international football and might have his work cutout in this year’s Copa America tournament.

Star Player of Venezuela – Salomón Rondón is Venezuela’s all-time leading goalscorer and will be looking to add to his tally in this competition. 

The former West Brom and Newcastle forward is currently plying his trade in CSKA Moscow, in Russia. He’ll lead the attack for his country this summer. 

What Venezuela will do – It’s a very tough group for Venezuela and they will be among the favourites to finish bottom of Group B. 

The top four teams from each group will progress, so they do have a chance. However, they’ve got an incredibly difficult start and it could be an uphill battle from the beginning. 

National team of Argentina

Lionel Messi is still looking for his first international title with Argentina…

Argentina are the second most successful nation in Copa America history, having won the tournament 14 times. Despite this healthy pedigree, their last win in the competition was way back in 1993. 

Since then, they have finished runners-up on four occasions (2004, 2007, 2015 & 2016). Argentina also finished third in the 2019 Copa America. They will be hoping they can join Uruguay at the head of the all-time winners list. 

The Coach – Lionel Sebastián Scaloni took over the Argentina head coach role in 2018 after a period as interim coach was made permanent. 

The 42 year old guided Argentina to a third place finish in the 2019 Copa America. With that experience, he’ll now be looking to take them all the way. 

Star Player of Argentina – Argentina’s star man is undoubtedly Lionel Messi. The 33 year old is one of the most famous sports stars in the world and widely regarded as the best player of all time

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has yet to land a major trophy with his country. As captain, he’ll be wanting to put that right before he fully retires. 

What Argentina will do – Given the depth of talent in the squad, anything other than an appearance in the final will be considered a failure. 

They are clear favourites to win Group A and they should do so with minimum fuss. They’ve been criticised for lacking nerve when it counts and they’ll need to prove their doubters wrong. 

National team of Bolivia

Bolivia failed to register a single point at the 2019 Copa America…

Bolivia isn’t a side that tastes victory very often. However, they do have a Copa America title to their name, which they won back in 1963. Their best finish in the competition since then was a second place finish in 1997. 

The South American World Cup qualifiers will be a good indicator of Bolivia’s chances and recent results don’t make for good reading. They could end up being the whipping boys in Group A.

The Coach – César Alejandro Farías Acosta was appointed Bolivia head coach in 2019. His managerial career began in 1998 and includes a six year stint as Venezuela head coach. 

He has been tasked with getting Bolivia to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. That hasn’t been going to plan, and he’ll be hoping a new competition will spark some life into his side. 

Star Player of Bolivia – Bolivia captain Marcelo Moreno will be hoping he can leave his mark on the 2020 Copa America. He is the man the nation will be looking to once the tournament begins.

The forward, who plays for Brazilian club Cruzeiro, is the all-time leading goalscorer for Bolivia. Can he add to his tally?

What Bolivia will do – Given how their World Cup qualifying campaign is going, it’s hard to expect much. Bolivia have been facing the same teams they’ll come up against here and haven’t much in the way of a threat. 

A bottom placed finish in Group A is what’s expected, but perhaps they can produce a shock. 

National team of Chile

Alexis Sanchez has rediscovered his form at Inter Milan…

Chile are one of the more consistent nations in this competition, having finished in the top four on 22 occasions. They won the 2015 edition, in which they were the hosts, and the 2016 Centenario a year later. 

They finished fourth in 2019, losing 2-1 in the third place play-off against Argentina. They’ll be looking to improve on that this time around. 

The Coach – Chile head coach Martín Bernardo Lasarte Arróspide was appointed earlier in 2021. 

It’s hard to say how much of an impact the Uruguayan will have on the team, but we’ll find out at the 2020 Copa America. He’ll be looking to inspire the nation to its third title, so time will tell.

Star Player of Chile – The main man for Chile is Alexis Sanchez. The former Arsenal and Manchester United forward is Chile’s captain and all-time top goalscorer. 

After a rough couple of years in Manchester, he has rediscovered his form at Inter Milan. Winning the Serie A title will see him come into this with huge confidence. 

What Chile will do – Chile should have no problems progressing from Group A. They will face some tough games before reaching the knockouts and that will indicate their chances in the competition. 

Anything other than a finish in the top four would be considered a failure. They have an outside chance of winning the whole thing. 

National team of Paraguay

Paraguay will be looking to earn a long-awaited third Copa America title…

Paraguay has been incredibly consistent in this particular competition. They have two Copa America titles, won in 1953 and 1979 respectively. Their best result in recent years was a fourth place finish in 2015.

Previous to that, they were the runners up in 2011, losing 3-0 to Uruguay in the final. That was the sixth time the nation has finished second in the competition. It’s been a while, but Paraguay will be keen to land their third Copa America championship.

The Coach – Eduardo Berizzo Magnolo was appointed head coach in 2019. Previous to this, he had spells at Spanish sides Celta Vigo, Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao. 

The Argentine earned 13 caps for his country as a player and guided Paraguay to the quarter-finals in the 2019 Copa America. Can he take them all the way?

Star Player of Paraguay – Captain Gustavo Gomes has major influence in the squad. He is one of the most capped players, but the one to watch could be Angel Romero.

The 28 year old forward is finding the net regularly in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and could be the standout. 

What Paraguay will do – Paraguay have become a draw specialists of late. That will be enough to get them out of the group stage, but they may falter in the knockouts. 

It’s likely they’ll again find themselves up against a much bigger opponent later in the competition. Expect them to exit around the quarter-final stage.

National team of Uruguay 

Luis Suarez could fire Uruguay to Copa America glory…

Last, but by no means least, Uruguay. The most successful nation in Copa America history with 15 titles under their belt. It’s been 10 years since their last victory and they’ll be hungry to add to their tally this summer. 

The squad is full of names that fans of European football will instantly recognise. Atletico Madrid forward Luis Suarez and Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani are the standout players on paper.

The Coach – Óscar Washington Tabárez Silva is the longest serving head coach of all the nations in the Copa America. He took over way back in 2006 for a second spell at the helm, having managed the team from 1988-1990. 

He’s one of the few coaches here who has actually won the competition, so he knows what it takes. The 74 year old is as experienced as they come.

Star Player of Uruguay – Luis Suarez is still one of the most gifted attacking players in the world. Premier League fans will remember his spell with Liverpool, in which he showcased his talents. 

That earned him a big money move to Barcelona, before he was shipped off to Atletico Madrid in 2020. He’s the nation’s top goalscorer and will want to extend that record.

What Uruguay will do – Football fans will gravitate to Brazil and Argentina for obvious reasons, but this Uruguay side has a genuine chance. They’ve been a bit inconsistent in World Cup qualifying, but when they turn it on they can be devastating. 

If they can avoid a big team early in the knockouts, expect them to at least get to the final.

Groups of Copa America

How the the Copa America 2021 groups shape up…

The Copa America is split into two regions (groups), the North Zone and South Zone. Each group consists of five teams. The South Zone is Group A and the North Zone is Group B. Let’s take a look at which teams are in which group for the 2021 Copa America.

Group A (South Zone)

  • Argentina (co-hosts)
  • Bolivia
  • Chile 
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay

Group B (North Zone)

  • Brazil (current champions)
  • Colombia (co-hosts)
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Venezuela

The top four from each group will advance to the knockout stages of the competition. The fifth placed team in each group will be eliminated. 

Match Program at Copa America 

The famous trophy they’ll all be playing for…

Here, we will outline all of the 2021 Copa America fixtures for the group stages and how the knockout stages will match up, based on the final group standings. 

Group A Fixtures

Sunday 13th June 2021

Argentina v Chile

Paraguay v Bolivia 

Thursday 17th June 2021

Chile v Bolivia

Argentina v Uruguay

Sunday 20th June 2021

Uruguay v Chile 

Argentina v Paraguay 

Wednesday 23rd June 2021

Bolivia v Uruguay 

Chile v Paraguay 

Sunday 27th June 2021

Argentina v Bolivia

Uruguay v Paraguay

Group B Fixtures

Monday 14th June 2021

Brazil v Venezuela

Colombia v Ecuador

Friday 18th June 2021

Colombia v Venezuela 

Peru v Brazil

Monday 21st June 2021

Venezuela v Ecuador 

Colombia v Peru

Thursday 24th June 2021

Ecuador v Peru 

Colombia v Brazil

Monday 28th June 2021

Ecuador v Brazil

Venezuela v Peru

Quarter-finals 

Friday 2nd July 2021

(QF1) Group A Runner-up v Group B 3rd place

(QF2) Group A Winner v Group B 4th place

Saturday 3rd July 2021

(QF3) Group B Runner-up v Group A 4th place

(QF4) Group B Winner v Group A 4th place

Semi-finals

Monday 5th July 2021

(SF1) Winner of QF1 v Winner of QF2 

Tuesday 6th July 2021

(SF2) Winner of QF3 v Winner of QF4 

Third place play-off

Friday 9th July 2021

Loser of SF1 v Loser of SF 2 

Final 

Saturday 10th July 2021

Winner of SF1 v Winner of SF2 

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