Brazil will have fond memories of hosting the Copa America. They did so in 1919, 1922, 1949 and 1989, and emerged as tournament champions each and every time. But after a disappointing World Cup campaign last year, will Brazil seize the chance to redeem themselves, or will they have to watch on as a new team lifts the trophy in their own country this year?
How does the tournament work?
Twelve teams are set to compete in this tournament, with Japan and Qatar invited to play alongside 10 South American teams. Initially, three teams from Asia and three teams from North America were expected to be involved in the tournament, but organisers decided on limiting the number of competing teams to twelve. This means that, for the first time in twenty-six years, there will not be a single representative from North America in the competition.
Whilst that may be disappointing to some, the line-up we are left with is certainly exciting - with some of the world’s best players coming together in Brazil this summer.
The tournament will be held in two stages: the groups, and the finals. The twelve participating teams are first divided into three groups of four teams, with the winners and runners up of each group progressing through to the quarter-finals, alongside the two best teams in third-place. A series of knockout games will culminate in the ultimate test, and the 2019 Copa America champion will be crowned on July 7th.
The host’s last victory in a major international tournament dates back to 2007, when Brazil won the Copa America in Venezuela. Since then, three dismal World Cup performances - including that crushing 7-1 defeat against Germany - have left fans disillusioned with their team’s performance on the worldwide stage.
But with a squad full of representatives from some of Europe’s top teams, including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester City, PSG and Juventus, there’s still hope that Brazil can get back to their winning ways. Anything else will surely be considered a failure.
Their last high-profile success came in the 90s, when the team managed to qualify for the World Cup and make it to the 1997 Copa America final. Unlike Brazil, they don’t have a star-studded squad and so may find it difficult when up against teams with stronger levels of talent. Competing for third place in the group is therefore likely to be Bolivia’s only way into the finals.
With ex-Juventus and current Torin player Tomas Rincon leading out the team, and the talented Salomón Rondón up front, Venezuela should be able to compete for a place in the quarter-finals, but they look unlikely to progress further.
A lack of depth in the Peruvian squad will be sure to cause Argentinian coach Ricardo Gareca some problems during the tournament. 35 year old Paolo Guerrero and 34 year old Jefferson Farfan are certainly past their best, but their experience on the pitch may just be the edge Peru need to secure themselves a top two position in their group.
The curse of cup finals haunts Argentina. Over the past 15 years, they have missed out on the 2014 World Cup title, as well as four chances to become Copa America champions - even with arguably the best player in the world in the team.
Lionel Messi has repeatedly stated that he wants to end his international career only after he has won something with Argentina, but the reality is - are they good enough? Their attack seems solid, with Sergio Aguero, Di Maria and Paulo Dybala alongside Messi up front, but the real problems lie towards the back. During last year’s World Cup they conceded more goals than they scored, and that could be a real issue for Argentina again this year.
Los Cafeteros are amongst the favourites for this year’s competition, with Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz summoning all his best players, including James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado, for what may be their best chance of winning the title since their triumph eighteen long years ago.
Paraguay have been going through some hard times in recent years. They haven’t managed to qualify for the last two World Cups, and finished bottom of their group in the 2016 Copa America. Despite this, or perhaps even because of this, we expect the Paraguayans to come back fighting this year, with 36 year old forward Oscar Cardozo leading the way.
The winners of the 2019 Asian Cup shouldn’t be written off as outsiders, despite this being their first time participating in the competition. In recent years, the Qataris have been investing huge amounts of money into soccer, and are progressing at a serious pace. They’re set to host the 2022 World Cup, and this could be the perfect chance for the national team to prove their newfound international standing in soccer.
They’ve got the most Copa America titles of any team, and are one of the favourites for this year’s tournament too. The question is, can the experienced Oscar Tabarez coach his team to a sixteenth victory, or will the likes of Diego Godin, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani be outplayed in Brazil this summer?
Historically speaking, the club has never performed well in this international tournament, with only a fourth place finish in 1959 and 1993 to their name. In the same way that their results record lacks wins, their squad lacks stars, with the exception of ex Manchester United captain Antonio Valencia. Combine such facts with the difficulty of their group, and Ecuador look set for another trophy-less tournament.
Japan will take part in their second Copa America ever this year, and they will do so with what can be described as an experimental squad. Key players, such as Shinji Kagawa, have been left behind, with manager Hajime Moriyasu opting to put seventeen of the country’s young players to the test.
With an average of 22 years, the Japanese team will be using this tournament as an opportunity to prove themselves, both to their manager and to their country. Who knows how far they’ll get?
Conversely, Chile are relying on experience - with the average of their squad around the 28.5 mark. Despite winning the competition twice in a row in 2015 and 2016, the team did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and so will be looking for the chance to establish themselves on the international stage once more.
Only Argentina have managed to win three successive Copa Americas, from 1945 - 1947, but there’s every chance that that record might be matched by Chile this year.
Placing your bitcoin bets
Now that you know all there is to know about the three Copa America groups, it’s time to decide who you are going to bet on.
Whilst playing host certainly seems to be Seleção Brasileira de Futebol’s lucky charm, they aren’t the only team with a good chance of winning the title this year - with Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Chile also expected to do well. And let’s not forget about Japan or Qatar, who could both prove to be fruitful outside bets.
So whether you want to place individual wagers on the outright winner, or combine your picks into an accumulator, head over to our sportsbook today to start bitcoin betting on this year’s Copa America.