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Copa America group stage commences as Brazil, Colombia get underway

Holly Thackeray | June 2, 2016

It is finally time for the curtain to be raised on the 2016 Copa America, or rather the Copa America Centenario which celebrates 100 years of the competition, and Coral have spades of superb odds to mark the opening four fixtures.

As the first to be held outside South America, you can be sure the USA will go to town, and it is the hosts that cut the ribbon on the 45th edition with their rumble against star-studded Colombia in the early hours of Saturday morning.

While, further frays include cult nation Costa Rica’s scuffle with dark horses Paraguay, as decorated giants Brazil battle outsiders Ecuador and Haiti meet Peru.

So, read on for our thoughts on the games, and the best bets to boot…

USA v Colombia

  • Group A
  • Saturday, June 4th
  • Kick-off: 02:30 BST
  • Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara
  • Live on Premier Sports

Coffee Growers to give hosts jolt?

Stylish side Colombia should be pounced upon at sensational odds of 7/4 to sweep in and spoil the Stars and Stripes’ party for the USA, having triumphed in 10 of their 17 previous fixture meetings with the hosts, losing just three.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s men (13/8) will be buoyed by home fans, and have shown the spirit to claim big scalps before, but still lack the sparkle of their swashbuckling opponents.

WCup Panama US Soccer

The last two tussles between these teams ended evenly, with another draw a 21/10 dabble, yet Jose Pekerman’s Coffee Growers have recently notched nine in three games and have the quality to clinch a crucial first victory.

Although, a weakness in defence which has seen no shut out in six, means USA can realistically hope to get on the scoresheet, after an impressive four successive victories themselves. So, a 24/5 shot for Colombia class to win the crunch clash but both teams to bag looks brilliant value.

Rodriguez to rally in shop window

If there is one player across these two countries’ squads that needs to prove a point with the potential of a summer switch, it is Colombia skipper James Rodriguez.

Britain Soccer USA Colombia

An impressive 11 strikes in his past 22 caps suggest the seemingly unwanted Real Madrid man just needs an injection of confidence, and the 24-year-old is tempting to notch anytime at 9/4. While, AC Milan marksman Carlos Bacca, who has breached the USA backline before, has been gobbling chances up all season in San Siro black and red and is 5/1 to draw first blood after recently dispatching a double for his nation.

As for the Stars and Stripes, familiar face Clint Dempsey is always a decent 7/4 anytime shout, while up and comer Gyasi Zardes is intriguing in the same market at 14/5 with Borussia Dortmund teenager Christian Pulisic is 8/1 for the final say.

Costa Rica v Paraguay

  • Group A
  • Saturday, June 4th
  • Kick-off: 22:00 BST
  • Camping World Stadium, Orlando
  • Live on Premier Sports

Points to be shared in Orlando encounter

It is then over to Orange County for another finely balanced battle on Saturday night, as 2014 World Cup quarter-final cult heroes Costa Rica (9/5 for the match) square up to 2015 Copa America semi-finalists Paraguay (13/8).

Those rather spectacular feats notwithstanding, however, neither side roll into this coveted competition in fine form, with Los Ticos triumphing in two of their last four and La Albirroja winning only one of their previous six.

Copa America Centenario Preview

In the 2015 Gold Cup, the Costa Ricans had a woeful run of four draws in normal time, with results since picking up, while Paraguay have split the spoils in two of the past three, meaning this match is a great bet to back at 2/1 to end evenly.

Ruiz and Campbell Costa Rican threats

Former Fulham man Bryan Ruiz and Arsenal’s rapid wingman Joel Campbell remain their country’s best attacking options, at 14/5 and 16/5 to grab a goal anytime respectively, though D.C United’s Alvaro Saborio knows North American soil well and is 11/2 for the opener.

Costa Rica Mexico Soccer

Ingolstadt’s Dario Lezcano (6/1 for the final goal) is undoubtedly Paraguay’s most potent threat from recent games, though Sprting Gijon’s Antonio Sanabria (19/10) and Roma-owned Juan Iturbe are exciting talents, though the latter is fresh from a poor Bournemouth loan spell.

Haiti v Peru

  • Group B
  • Sunday, June 5th
  • Kick-off: 00:30 BST
  • CenturyLink Field, Seattle

Peru to pinch points in Seattle scuffle

Seaport Seattle is the next stage as Group B begins in the small hours of Sunday, and 2015 third place finishers Peru will be eager to hand minnow Haiti defeat, which they are odds-on at 8/15 to do. As likely competitors for second spot Ecuador face a depleted but still daunting Brazil, the Incas can steal an important march here.

Colombia Haiti Soccer

Widely expected to be cannon fodder in Pool B, Haiti are 11/4 to pick up a point, or an unlikely 11/2 to take the spoils having never defeated Peru in four tries.

Peruvian poachers to get on scoresheet

All the attention will be on Peru’s frontline, with seven clocked up across their last two outings. It seems the scoring is shared around, however, though Flamengo forward Paolo Guerrero (once in Bayern Munich’s ranks) is an intriguing 7/2 to be first to tuck a chance away, with Peru-based Raul Ruidiaz the same price for the last poach of the game.

Peru Wcup Soccer

Outside of the Inca’s attack, Haiti hitmen Wilde-Donald Guerrier (4/1 anytime), Kervens Belfort (7/2) and Jean-Eudes Maurice (7/2) are their nation’s most prolific with a combined 28 strikes in 95 caps between them.

Brazil v Ecuador

  • Group B
  • Sunday, June 5th
  • Kick-off: 03:00 BST
  • Rose Bowl, Pasadena

Premier League Samba stars can punish Ecuador

The last of our first four featured fixtures is another which illustrates why the Copa America is such essential viewing. Do underdogs Ecuador, who have a few handy players from the Premier League themselves, against a Brazil team missing Barcelona superstar Neymar?

This is hardly the finest Samba Boys vintage on show, but the Brazilians are still overwhelming 20/23 favourites to run riot at the Rose Bowl, with 11/2 for them to win both halves, or at the very least 23/10 to pick up a point from Pasadena.

Ecuador Wcup Soccer

A whopping 24 triumphs in 29 against Los Amarillos suggests Dunga’s Sambas stars will be victorious yet again, with Brazil unbeaten in six.

Coutinho and co can step up

English top-flight Ecuadorian attacking trio Antonio Valencia, Enner Valencia (15/8 to be on target anytime) and Jefferson Montero will be tasked with keeping the tournament second favourites on their toes, but there is not quite enough firepower there to promise a real threat to Samba superiority.

Though there are plenty more big names that make this worth tuning in for as, in Neymar’s absence, the creative burden falls to Premier League pair Philippe Coutinho (21/10) and Willian (12/5), who possess plenty of panache and set-piece threat between them.

Paraguay Brazil Soccer World Cup

While, late inclusion Jonas Goncalves Oliveira (4/1 to close the scoring) of Benfica could be a winning option off the bench, after netting 36 in 47 across all competitions at club level this campaign. Not bad for a Brazil back up!

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Coral’s top tip: Brazil are best value at 11/2 to win both halves versus Ecuador.

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