The wait is finally over, and we now know which teams will face off in the group stages of the 2016 Copa América. The cup will be held for the first time in the United States in celebration of the 100th year of the tournament.
Here are the groups and teams that were drawn yesterday and will face-off this June (3-26)…
Group A: Colombia (1x winner), USA (Host), Paraguay (2x winner), Costa Rica
It isn’t a “Group of Death,” but it is easily the most consistently talented group of the cup. The U.S. will not have an easy go as host, but there is no reason to panic. However, the other three teams could have their way if the hosts are not on their game.
Costa Rica can do what we have seen before…shut down big name nations with Real Madrid netminder Keylor Navas between the posts. Luckily for them, the biggest current nation to shut down is Colombia, anchored by Navas’ Madrid teammate James Rodriguez, but we all know that they will be eyeing the USA to spoil their party.
Paraguay is a two-faced team, meaning one game they will play you lights out, the next, they fall apart. They might like their position in the group, because they have gone toe-to-toe with strong teams in recent history.
Group B: Brazil (8x winner), Haiti, Peru (2x winner), Ecuador
Unlike Group A, this group is a little more lopsided. Brazil are the #1 favorites to advance, and they should especially with Neymar leading the charge. The only question mark will be the battle between Ecuador and Peru. Yet, let’s not forget that Ecuador is currently leading South America in World Cup qualifying.
Haiti, unfortunately, are going to have a tough tournament. Hopefully they can show up and surprise people regardless.
Group C: Mexico, Uruguay (15x winner), Venezuela, Jamaica
On paper, Mexico and Uruguay should be the ones to advance from this group. However, neither team should sleep on Jamaica and Venezuela. Both teams could easily ruin the aspirations of the two favorites.
For Mexico, however, they dismantled Jamaica in the 2015 Gold Cup final, and are hitting a really scary point of consistency if you’re an opponent.
The Mexico-Uruguay match could determine the group winner, and it’s the first match of the group. The Mexican defense will have their hands full with the deadly striking pairing of Luis Saurez (Barcelona) and Edinson Cavani (PSG). Fans of all sorts will have their eye on that showdown in Glendale, AZ.
Group D: Chile (1x winner), Argentina (14x winner), Panama, Bolivia (1x winner)
Group D is a balanced group, with past winners and underdogs that could do some surprising. The clear favorites are Argentina, led by 4-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi and Chile (the 2015 champion) with their star duo of Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) and Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), but Panama and Bolivia may cause some problems in the group stage.
I don’t see Panama or Bolivia advancing, but they should not be totally pushed over. The firepower from the big-two might be just too much for Panama and Bolivia.