Copa America: Brazil cuts make Chile a cracking price to retain trophy
Holly Thackeray | May 9, 2016
Summer brings with it some fantastic international football tournaments and, if customers cast a brief glance away from Euro 2016, there could also be superb value in the latest instalment of the Copa America.
Usually synonymous with the stardust Central and South American sides have to offer, 2016’s tournament is this time hosted in the hopeful USA. Chile only triumphed last term, but this is the last Western Hemisphere wrangle to occur before 2019, with the next king of the Americas to rule for three years.
So, don’t miss out on the opportunity to dabble, with the preliminary superstar squads already announced. Coral, therefore, present some generous outright odds…
Omissions to impact Samba Boys
Brazil have hogged most of the headlines leading up to this clash of continents, due to coach Dunga’s rather underwhelming roster, from which skipper and star man Neymar is missing.
Despite Dunga’s statement that: “We are bringing a competitive team for an important tournament,” the Samba side have seemingly prioritised the Rio Olympics, after Barcelona’s reported request to use their expensive attacker sparingly across summer, with Neymar set to feature in that squad instead.
Undoubtedly, the South Americans may take a different tack when the tournament is next hosted on their home soil.
Other notable omissions, as Brazil boast a hectic schedule with their so far shaky 2018 World Cup qualifying set to resume in early autumn, include defenders David Luiz and Marcelo, British-based midfielders Oscar and Fernandinho, as well as in-form attackers Roberto Firmino and Jonas.
There will still be big names aplenty in canary yellow to spy at the Copa, including Dani Alves, Douglas Costa and Philippe Coutinho, and spades of exciting youth also to take centre stage with Fabinho Tavares of Monaco, PSG man Marquinhos, Barcelona boy Rafinha Alcantara and Santos starlet Gabriel Barbosa selected.
Still, Dunga’s difficult decision to tailor his squad leaves the Samba stars, eight-time winners, looking a little short as 9/2 second favourite for the silverware, with this far from their first priority.
Argentina eyeing improvement
In comparison to bitter rivals Brazil, Argentina appear to mean business with their preliminary squad featuring expected attacking heavyweights such as Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria, with a surprise inclusion also for recently ostracised Carlos Tevez.
Maestro Messi will, instead, not go to Rio for the summer Olympics, which may be why La Albiceleste edge in front of the Samba Boys odds-wise.
With such cherry picking available to Tata Martino, the Argentines could even afford to leave the likes of impressive Paulo Dybala and Angel Correa behind as they bid to end majestic Messi’s long-wait for international glory.
The bridesmaids twice over two years at the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa America, with last-gasp and penalty shootout exits respectively not part of the plan, 28-year-old Messi is 7/4 to finally get his hands on this trophy.
Though, as ever, it could be defence that undoes this exceptionally attack-blessed team, with the likes of Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton) and Marcos Rojo denting credibility after poor Premier League seasons.
What price Chile to retain?
All of this makes last hosts and current champions Chile a very tempting 8/1 price to keep their prize polished, with the holders at such exceptional odds due to their sole title arriving at home.
Yet now La Roja have had a taste of triumph and possess a tenacious roster with preliminary picks including Barca keeper Claudio Bravo, Inter Milan’s Gary Medel, Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich and Arsenal talisman Alexis Sanchez that makes for a stable, solid spine, and one upon which so much success is already based.
Chile don’t need to tinker and, though they face hungry Argentina in the group stage, their focus on retaining and lack of drama surrounding the squad sees them as very serious contenders to cling onto the crown, and potentially the smartest investment.
Uruguay well-balanced, Colombia top heavy
Other punts for Copa customers include record winners Uruguay (7/1), who seek to add a 16th crown to their collection, despite their last win coming five years ago.
There will be much pressure for Luis Suarez to lead his side to some substantial silverware, and a spot of international pride restoration after returning from suspension, with what should really be classed as a Golden Generation. What La Celeste do possess, is greater balance between defence and attack.
With in-form Suarez, Edinson Cavani plus Middlesbrough man Cristhian Stuani, just three of a wealth of forward thinking options, and Atletico Madrid pair Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez to marshal the rearguard, there will be an expectation for things to click into place and for Uruguay to surpass their last quarter-final finish.
While, everyone’s favourite South American 2014 World Cup team Colombia may have a hard time living up to their 9/1 tag to be winners, with key man James Rodriguez in inconsistent form for club Real Madrid. With speculation surrounding a summer switch, it looks too much for this protagonist, even with the likes of Juan Cuardrado and Carlos Bacca in support to take this team all the way.
Dark horses closer to home
If outsiders are more your bag, the USA are fourth favourties at 15/2, if Jurgen Klinsmann can tap into the home passion that helped Chile celebrate in 2015.
Though, football is far from the Stars and Stripes’ national game and the North American nation just look unlikely to replicate the passion to be first-time winners, despite a sprinkling of familiar names such as Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Matt Miazga and DeAndre Yedlin – with many of those either past their peak or yet to be truly established in Europe.
The USA’s fierce rivals Mexico could be a much better shout at 16/1, as El Tri appear to have learned from past mistakes of spreading their squad out, which led to two successive embarrassing group stage exits.
Of course much of the attention will be on Javier Hernandez, fresh from so far scoring 26 for Bayer Leverkusen this term and no doubt eager to win after missing the 2015 Gold Cup success due to injury. Yet there is more to Mexico than their main man, with brothers Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos, Carlos Vela, Raul Jimenez and Hector Herrera among those making the Central Americans a multi-faceted threat.