Copa America Group B: Messi can inspire favourites Argentina to glory
Copa America favourites Argentina (2/1 with Coral) possess an incredible attacking force for their campaign in Chile, including Lionel Messi, who comes into Gerardo Martino’s squad on the back of a historic treble triumphing season with Barcelona.
The international captain helped Luis Enrique’s Catalans to an incredible Champions League victory over Juventus, and will be hoping to take that sublime club form on to the international stage under a coach he also worked with at Barcelona.
Unsurprisingly, magical Messi is the 3/1 favourite to be the tournament’s top scorer, having finished joint-highest in Europe’s elite club competition. However, the Argentine’s have more than just their freescoring captain to rely on, with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero also in fine form, having dispatched a clinical hat-trick in a recent international friendly against Bolivia.
With such a sublime squad, which also includes Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain, Champions League finalists Carlos Tevez and Roberto Pereyra, as well as PSG’s Javier Pastore, Argentina are odds-on 2/9 favourites to top Group B.
However, they could face a stern test from Uruguay (4/1 to top group) who also hold plenty of threat going forward, including PSG sharpshooter Edinson Cavani, who is set to spearhead the attack in the absence of Barcelona’s Luis Suarez.
The clinical Nou Camp attacker struck in the Champions League final triumph against the Old Lady, but is still suspended from international action because of his run-in with Giorgio Chiellini at last summer’s World Cup.
Stalwart skipper and astute Atletico Madrid centre back Diego Godin will provide a tough guard in the heart of La Celeste’s defence, while the Premier League is represented by a duo of players with Hull City’s Abel Hernandez and Sunderland’s Sebastian Coates both set to feature.
Making up Group B are Paraguay and Jamaica, with the former potentially able cause an upset by clinching a top two spot (2/1). The two-time winners of this competition will require their forwards to be at their clinical best on order to stun Argentina or Uruguay.
Former Benfica marksman and ninth-all time Eagles top scorer Oscar Cardoza has netted 18 goals in all competitions this term for Trabzonspor, and is sure to be a mainstay of Paraguay’s line-up. Although, Roque Santa Cruz is still the main man and the former Manchester City striker is his nation’s record scorer with 30 goals in 104 caps, while the 33-year-old is also set to captain his country.
Meanwhile, the Reggae Boyz are 10/1 to secure a top two spot and, under German boss Winfried Schafer, have already won some silverware recently, lifting the 2014 Caribbean Cup last year, so they will be quietly confident in Chile.
Argentina will open their tournament on June 13th against Paraguay, with a possibly decisive clash against Uruguay taking place on three days, an encounter which could go a long way in deciding who tops the group.