Copa America Group A: hosts Chile can steal the show from Mexico
Copa America hosts Chile (third-favourites with Coral at 4/1 to claim the crown) are odds-on at 2/5 to top Pool A, which promises to be perhaps the tastiest of the tournament.
In front of home fans, Jorge Sampaoli’s fiery side will be under pressure to turn on the style, with this crop of stars expected to put on a show and end Chile’s under-achievement in the coveted South American competition.
Familiar faces such as Arturo Vidal, fresh from Champions League final disappointment with Italian giants Juventus, plus Alexis Sanchez of recent FA Cup winning fame with Arsenal, must shake off any fatigue from long club seasons to prove their worth at international level.
Chile came unstuck against Brazil at the World Cup, but will have considered themselves unlucky to exit in a penalty shootout, meaning they have a point to prove, and their tournament curtain-raiser on the 11th of June against Ecuador (9/2 to win Group A) could be crucial in deciding who finishes top.
Ecuador will perhaps fancy their chances of stealing second spot, with the likes of Premier League pair Jefferson Montero and Enner Valencia in the ranks. With such attacking potential, the Amarillos should at the very least snatch third and the prospect of qualification.
This competitive group also boasts a talented Mexico squad, widely dismissed as only having eyes for the Gold Cup, with key players and star names being omitted due to a tough summer schedule. The Aztecs (5/1 to surprise doubters and win the pool) will be steered by inspirational manager Miguel Herrera, who always has a trick or two up his sleeve, and will be looking for hungry players like Atletico Madrid’s Raul Jimenez to step up and show what they are made of.
El Tri will take on group favourites Chile on the 15th of June, but their most important duel could well be a final pool outing against Ecuador, who will smell blood with Manchester United marksman Javier Hernandez and Real Sociedad star Carlos Vela both absent from the squad.
Group minnows Bolivia (5/1 for a top two finish), meanwhile, may not be just cannon fodder under coach Mauricio Soria, and could frustrate the group, proving a thorn in the side of the big-guns but, following five round one exits on the trot, look unlikely to advance from this perilous pool.