Copa America Group C: Neymar key to claiming continental crown for Brazil
With the Copa America approaching, Coral preview Group C and who to watch out for. Following a disappointing World Cup last year for Brazil, there was no better way for star player Neymar to get over this, than helping club Barcelona, sweep all aside and win every competition they entered.
After his Champions League heroics, where he scored what turned out to be the decider, Neymar now turns his attention to helping restore pride for Brazil in the Copa America, and will be hoping to eradicate memories of their humiliating 7-1 exit in the World Cup semi-finals on their own turf at the hands of eventual winners Germany.
The Samba Boys are odds-on at 4/7 with Coral to win Group C, with their star striker 5/1 to be top scorer at the tournament. Coach Dunga, who took the helm for a second time, following the World Cup, faces a selection headache however. After rotating the squad considerably to face Mexico, he saw his side win comfortably 2-0 in a match which threw up a number of possibilities.
It proved to Dunga that there is a lot more to this squad than just Neymar. Hoffenheim’s Roberto Firmino who showed his qualities earlier in the season when he scored the winner against Chile in a friendly at the Emirates, has got an abundance of potential to become a world class number nine. Meanwhile, Philippe Coutinho has had a breakthrough season for Liverpool and showed against Mexico just how good he is.
Standing in the Samba Boys way however, Colombia will be challenging them all the way to top the group. Jose Pekerman’s side were knocked out of the World Cup by Brazil at the quarter-final stage, and will be hoping for revenge in their continental competition.
Los Cafeteros are 13/8 to top their group and will be hoping captain and star striker Radamel Falcao will be back to his best, after a season spent recovering from injury. He is 20/1 to be top-scorer, while James Rodriguez, who stole the show last summer, winning the Golden Boot award with six strikers is 25/1 to emulate his accomplishment.
Peru, 9/2 to progress from the group, could be a bit of tournament dark horse, and can count Juan Manuel Vargas, Jefferson Farfan, Claudio Pizarro and Paolo Guerrero in their ranks as players to watch. Pizarro even has a Champions League winners medal, so his experience will be crucial if the country are to progress.
Venezuela, meanwhile, at 5/1 to advance to the latter stages of the tournament. They are likely to be heavily reliant on star striker Salomon Rondon, 150/1 to be top-scorer, who plies his trade for Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia, and his 13 goals in 26 appearances have just helped his club win the title.
However, one to watch is 20-year-old Jhon Murillo, who has just signed for Benfica on a long term deal, and scored less than one minute into his Venezuela debut recently. At the back, Middlesbrough’s Fernando Amorebieta will be key to plugging any defensive holes.