Copa America Group A: Chile to start strong against Ecuador
Copa America 2015 hosts Chile (odds-on for victory with Coral at 2/5) look to kick off the prestigious South American competition in style at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, where Jorge Sampaoli’s side will be eager to rack up a first win against Ecuador, who are unfancied at 15/2.
Chile should be aiming to make Group A their own with an opening day win against the Amarillos, as then only an under-strength Mexico and minnows Bolivia will stand in their way of pool domination.
With a golden generation of talent at their disposal, the coastal country are under pressure to rectify a poor record, having never captured the Copa America crown, despite six previous stints as hosts.
The Chileans hold the head-to-head record against their first opponents, with 26 wins to nine, and defeated Ecuador 2-1 the last time these two met, a scoreline they are 17/2 to repeat.
Arsenal’s FA Cup goal hero Alexis Sanchez netted the opener on that occasion and is 7/2 to strike the opening blow again, though Coral have also priced the talisman up in a truly tempting match special, so back Gunners sensation Sanchez to score and Chile to win at 2/1 (maximum stake £20).
Also competing to spearhead Chile’s attack alongside Sanchez is Napoli-owned forward Eduardo Vargas (evens in the anytime market), who seems to save his best performances for his nation, and Manchester United marksman Angelo Henriquez, who is still technically on loan to Croatian big-guns Dinamo Zagreb.
With a point to prove to his parent club, the young poacher, who has struck two in five caps for Chile, is 4/1 to have the final say, while midfield enforcer Arturo Vidal is crucial to his country’s high energy and intense pressing style and is 7/4 to make the difference anytime.
Ecuador, 10/3 to split the spoils and crash Chile’s curtain raiser, should not be discounted, however, despite suffering a blow as Man Utd wingman Antonio Valencia was ruled out due to an ankle injury.
La Tricolor have triumphed in two of their past four duels against Chile, and boast a raft of big-name stars themselves. In Antonio Valencia’s absence, namesake Enner Valencia (7/1 to draw first blood) of West Ham United and Swansea City wideman Jefferson Montero (11/2 to net anytime) will be expected to step up and challenge Chile’s defence.
With Mexico resting their superstars for the Gold Cup, the Amarillos will have spied a chance to snatch second and will be gunning for Chile’s scalp. The hosts’ firepower should prove too much in the end though, so another cracking match special of 7/2 for Chile to win and both teams to score (also with a max stake of £20) looks a smart bet.