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Expect Chile and Uruguay to breeze into the knockout stages where anything can happen.
If the host can win its 15th Copa America, the Argentines will surpass neighbors Uruguay as the team with the most titles. Can Messi inspire Argentina to victory? Will Brazil make it three in a row? Or will the trophy head further north up the continent?
This July, all eyes in South America will be fixated on Argentina as the Copa America,Brian Orakpo Youth Jersey, CONMEBOL’s continental tournament kicks off with the host taking on Bolivia in the July 1st curtain raiser.
European fans should also become familiar with Gustavo Bolivar. The Deportes Tolima midfielder plays just in front of the back four and is an uncompromising ball winner. Once the ball is in his possession, Bolivar mixes simple passes that seemingly always reach his target with the occasional perfectly weighted long diagonal ball to spring the counter down the flanks.
Brazil should win Group B,Wes Welker Youth Jersey, but Ecuador and Paraguay will provide stern resistance, while Venezuela will be out to prove that it is not in Argentina just to make up the numbers,Eric Decker Broncos Jersey.
The host nation enters the tournament with a chip on its shoulder. After losing to archenemies Brazil in the last two finals (The 3-0 demolition in the 2007 finals was particularly tough for the Argentines to swallow), La Albiceleste is looking for its first title since 1993.
by Marc Serber
In addition to the 10 members of the South American confederation, two guest teams are invited to bump the number of teams to 12 in order to have a proper group stage/knockout tournament. Mexico and Costa Rica will join the party.
All remains to be seen as it is game on in South America.
If the qualifying table for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and recent results are anything to go by, this could be one of the most hotly contested Copa Americas in recent memory.
Already missing the likes of Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez and Carlos Salcido, the Mexican squad was further depleted when eight players were sent home for breaking team rules by having women in their hotel rooms after the 1-0 friendly win over Ecuador in Quito,Mark Sanchez Jets Jersey. While the miscreants will be replaced,Charlie Peprah Jersey, their absence will further derail what was never likely going to be a strong challenge.
Enter the Central Americans who will be suffering from Gold Cup fatigue and still reeling from the loss of defender Dennis Marshall who died tragically in a car accident just days after the tournament. With Colombia, hosts Argentina and Bolivia in Group A, Costa Rica’s progress to the second round would be considered a huge success.
Falcao scored 39 goals in 42 appearances this season (including the winner in the Europa League Final) for FC Porto as the Portuguese Club claimed four trophies. Over in the English Premier League, Hugo Rodallega struck nine goals to help Wigan escape relegation by the skin of its teeth.
Colombian soccer is on the rise. Once Caldas and Atletico Junior reached the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores, while across the Atlantic, the majority of the squad had strong seasons in Europe.
As for the guests, Mexico elected to bring what is essentially a U-22 squad with the majority of the regulars resting after capturing the Gold Cup in CONCACAF’s regional tournament. With the exception of the in form Giovani Dos Santos, the entire squad plays its club ball in Mexico.
For two time defending champions Brazil, this will be the first chance for the public to witness Mano Menezes’ revamped squad in a proper competition. Following the disappointing quarter-final finish at last summer’s World Cup and the departure of Dunga, Menezes has set about overhauling the Seleção.
The focus has shifted to a new generation with the hopes for a hat-trick of consecutive titles resting on the likes of 19-year-old Neymar, Santos teammate Paulo Henrique Ganso (both may very well be off to Europe by the end of the tournament), and Milan striker Pato.
"The renovation has been intense,” Menezes was quoted as saying on ESPN’s Soccernet.com. “If you look at the names today, there are only four players who were starters in the last World Cup: Julio Cesar, Lucio, Robinho and Elano."
Chile and Uruguay will be in group C. They will face a Mexican squad compiled of players who are far from the best that the CONCACAF country has to offer and a Peruvian side depleted by the losses of Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfan. The German based players were the attackers that made head coach Sergio Markarian’s preferred 4-3-3 system tick.
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While Brazil and Argentina have dominated the competition in the past few editions and are among the favorites again, the challenge from contenders such as Chile, Uruguay, and even Colombia will be sterner than ever.
Bolivar’s ability to destroy attacks at one end and jump start them at the other is one of the main reasons Deportes Tolima has been so successful over the last few seasons.
Leonel Messi said winning the Copa America is his “greatest dream.” While the striker may be caught up in the moment, his statement no doubt underlines the importance of the competition. Especially among the Argentines, who have the added pressure of winning the tournament in front of an already demanding public.
Chile enters the tournament in great form. La Roja play a brand of aesthetically pleasing soccer. Amongst the Chilean ranks is Alexis Sanchez. The Udinese striker is one of the hottest transfer targets of the summer. Jean Beausejour is a clever midfielder who is capable of scoring goals, while playmaker Jorge Valdivia is an intelligent attacking midfielder. When at his best, Palmeiras’ number 10 is capable of dictating the pace of the Chilean attack.
Much will also depend on whether are not Ganso and Pato have fully recovered from recent injuries.
Costa Rica enters the tournament in place of Japan. The Asian Champions originally accepted an invitation to participate in the tournament, only to pull out after the devastating earthquake/tsunami struck the island in April. The Japanese then made a U-turn before pulling out once again after having trouble getting its European based players released from their clubs. Additionally, rescheduled J-League matches meant domestic players were not made available for the tournament.
This July, all eyes in South America will be fixated on Argentina as the Copa America, CONMEBOL’s continental tournament kicks off with the host taking on Bolivia in the July 1st curtain raiser.
In addition to Falcao and Rodallega, Dayro Moreno will also see time up top. Moreno was rated as one of, if not the best players in the Colombian domestic league last season. The striker, who will join Club Tijuana this fall, is an intelligent attacker who likes to drift out wide and make darting diagonal runs into the center. The 25-year-old combines his clever movement with a savvy ability to finish either from distance or as a poacher in the box.
Should Brazil (already qualified for 2013 as hosts) win a third consecutive crown in Argentina, the runner-up will also receive a ticket to the Confederations Cup.
Uruguay made only four changes to its roster from the side that reached the semifinals last year in South Africa. If Forlan and Suarez are in top form than anything is possible.
The winner of the tournament will not only claim continental supremacy, but a place in the 2013 Confederations Cup, the dress rehearsal for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.