Copa America Preview

Written by Square in the Air

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As the European football season draws to a close, the campaign for South America’s big prize is just about to begin. The 44th Copa América kicks off on Thursday with the host nation Chile playing Ecuador in the country’s capital, Santiago. This year’s tournament is set to be very closely contested with almost all of World Cup 2014’s overachievers taking part.

Chile knocked out Spain, Colombia were involved in the last eight, hosts Brazil finished fourth and Argentina second in a World Cup that saw more teams from South America (7) qualify for the knock out stages than any other continent. It is World Cup runners up Argentina who will be hogging pre-tournament favouritism to equal Uruguay’s record of 15 Copa America’s. They go into this tournament ranked third in the world, the highest of any of their rivals, and have an injury free squad at their disposal.

Recent UEFA Champions League finalists Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez are both available and will be looking to make sure there is no drought of Argentinian goals, the pair have scored a total of 58 times for their country. At the back Argentina have looked pretty sound this year as well, having conceded only the one goal in three games. However, there lie sterner tests ahead than friendly matchups against El Salvador and altitude-dependent Bolivia. Brazil are a side certain to test any back four and their build up to the competition has been a serious one. The five-time World Cup winners have had to peel themselves off the floor following Wold Cup semi-final embarrassment at the hands of Germany in Belo Horizante. They are now unbeaten in 2015 having recorded wins against footballing giants France and Copa América rivals Chile and Mexico. Uruguay and Colombia have both been in good form. The later have rocketed up to fourth in the world rankings and boast a deadly attack. Colombian Coach Jose Pekerman has James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and the highly touted Carlos Baca fit and ready to do damage as well speedsters Jackson Martinez and Juan Cuadrado.

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