MYCLUBBETTING.COM has teamed up with Premier Sports to become the Official Broadcast Sponsors for the biggest football tournament of the year, the 2015 Copa América, which starts on Thursday (June 11).
The 44th edition of the Copa América features 12 Latin American nations battling it out to a momentous finale on July 4.
The tournament, which kicks off with hosts Chile taking on Ecuador, features 10 teams from South America’s CONMEBOL along with two guest nations from CONCACAF. They will compete in three Groups across nine venues.
Don’t forget to place your pre-match and live, in-running bets via www.myclubbetting.com/copa and watch the 26 matches, broadcast live throughout the UK via Premier Sports, on SKY channel 428, Virgin 551, TalkTalk 526 and in HD via the Premier Player online.
We take a look at the world’s biggest football tournament this summer.
ODDS – 2.94
Argentina seek their first Copa since 1993 and there are three good reasons to think they will triumph: Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. Messi is arguably the best player in the world, Tevez, back in favour with La Albiceleste, has become the best striker in Serie A and Aguero has been a revelation for Manchester City. Yet players such as Xavier Mascherano and defenders Pablo Zabaleta and Marcos Rojos will be equally influential to Geraldo Martino’s side.
Key player: Nicolás Otamendi – While all eyes will be on Messi, Tevez and Aguero, Valencia central defender Otamendi is reliable, rarely caught out of position and a pivotal figure in the strong spine of the team.
Prediction: The World Cup runners-up will only fail through tactical errors and a lack of pace at the back. They should go all the way.
ODDS – 4.00
Even now it seems like a fairy-tale that never happened. The 7-1 World Cup semi-final humiliation by Germany on home soil will haunt generations to come. Brazil are unbeaten in their last nine matches under Dunga, yet they still lack confidence and their 2-0 win over Mexico in Sao Paulo last Sunday was a pedestrian display. Neymar, who scored 22 goals in La Liga this season from the left side of Barcelona’s attack, is the captain and talisman for a side who have made plenty of changes since their World Cup exit. The Selecao will go as far as he can take them in Chile.
Key player: Philippe Coutinho – The outstanding Liverpool midfielder has developed into one of the best players in the world. With Oscar injured, this youthful side will need all of his experience.
Prediction: In his second spell in charge, Dunga has been more adventurous with his formations, yet his defensive tendencies will come to the fore at some stage. Brazil are building for the future and while they should reach the semi-finals, expectations have been lowered.
ODDS – 4.20
We saw what the pressure of being a host nation could do in the last World Cup and Chile have never won the Copa America in 99 years. Coach Jorge Sampaoli has been worried that Chile’s best side for decades might succumb in the same way as Brazil did and he has packed them off to train in a converted monastery near Santiago. Runners-up four times, they should waltz through their Group but while Alexis Sanchez has scored 28 time for Arsenal this season, the goals have dried up for the national side in recent months.
Key player: Jorge Valdivia has already retired from international football once, but the Palmeiras midfielder’s experience and technical ability can unpick any defence.
Prediction: In the six previous times they have hosted this tournament, Chile finished third on four occasions and were runners-up in 1955. A semi-final place is virtually guaranteed and they are the value pick to contest the final.
ODDS – 4.90
Colombia’s issue is not the lack of firepower – it is their ability to plug the gaps at the back with veteran captain Mario Yepes finally gone. Los Cafeteros, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals, have a batch of young centre halves who have to grow up quickly. Coach Jose Peckerman has made it clear that they will have to lean on a talented generation of strikers who include Radamel Falcao and the most important player in the side, James Rodriguez. Colombia are an exciting side to watch, with Edwin Cardona a gifted and young attacking midfielder who will soon be attracting the attention of some top European clubs.
Key Player: Carlos Bacca had a great season for Sevilla, netting 28 times, and Premier League big guns Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham all looking to lure him away.
Prediction: Colombia enter this tournament not as dark horses, but as one of the favourites. Their group is a tough enough, comprising Brazil, Peru and Venezuela, but it will be a shock if they did not reach the knockout stages.
ODDS – 12.00
Uruguay gate-crashed the 2011 tournament, beating Paraguay in the final and the Sky Blues are the current Copa América champions. However, this is a side that is in a rebuilding phase and they won’t have Luis Suarez in the side as he is still serving his suspension following his biting antics in the World Cup. World Cup semi-finalists in 2010, they reached a peak in the intervening years and age set in, which culminated in second-round elimination four years later. Nine players have been given debuts by coach Oscar Tabarez since the World Cup and seven have made the Copa squad, including Bordeaux striker Diego Rolan. The loss of Juventus full-back Martin Cacares, recovering from ankle surgery, is almost as big a blow as losing Suarez. They will also miss World Cup captain Diego Lugano.
Key player: Edinson Cavani has lost both his World Cup strike-partners, including retired Diego Forlan, so much will depend on the service he gets from Carlos Sanchez, who has had a fine season for River Plate.
Prediction: The 15-times Copa winners will look a shadow of the side that knocked England out of the World Cup and while may reach the knockout stage, they should not go on the shortlist.
ODDS – 19.00
Mexico have been invited as guests since 1993 and as their presence does add weight to the tournament. They even reached the final at the first time of asking and in 2007 upset Brazil before losing to Argentina in the semi-finals. This time round, they may not be as productive, as the upcoming Gold Cup tournament in the US will be the priority. Coach Miguel Herrera has been forced to select a squad of fringe players, who include 36-year-old central defender Rafael Marquez. It is surprising that the Mexican Football Federation accepted the invitation in the first place.
Key player: Luis Montes suffered a broken leg in their World Cup warm-up match with Ecuador but some of his performances for Leon in the Liga MX have been outstanding.
Prediction – This is an experimental side and they are unlikely to get past the group phase.
ODDS – 19.00
Ecuador were the only South American side eliminated from the Group stages in the World Cup and there were reports that players were bickering over bonus money. This tournament has not been kind, as Ecuador have been eliminated at the first hurdle since 1997 and have not won any game in their last three Copa América games. They have to go back to 2001 to find their last victory. There will be plenty of interest for British bettors, with Swansea winger Jefferson Montero and West Ham striker Enner Valencia among the starting line-up. Manchester United right-back Antonio Valencia will miss the tournament as he recovers from ankle surgery.
Key player: Enner Valencia will reportedly cost upwards of £30million for anyone who wishes to prise him away from Upton Park after a productive first season in the Premier League. His pace can unsettle the most water-tight defences and his stock should continue to rise.
Prediction: Despite their lack of Copa pedigree, Ecuador are dark horses who should not be dismissed lightly as they have the flair to cause an upset or two.
ODDS – 28.00
Beaten finalists in 2011 after reaching the World Cup quarter-finals in 2010, Paraguay did not fare so well four years later after coach Gerardo Martino quit and they finished bottom of their 10-nation South American qualifying group. Ramon Diaz has undertaken something of a rebuilding process since, with a solid defensive foundation. Centre-back Paulo da Silva is the glue that holds things together, while experienced captain Roque Santa Cruz will always be the focal point of a fair attack. Emerging midfield talent Oscar Romero and striker Raul Bobadilla could emerge as leading lights.
Key player: Former Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz now plies his trade for Cruz Azul. While he is at the veteran stage at 33, he is a big target and still nimble enough to cause plenty of problems for opposing defenders.
Prediction: Twice Copa winners, the expectations are not high this time, but a successful tournament would constitute finishing as one of the two best third-placed teams before departing in the knockout stage.
ODDS – 50.00
Venezuela have never been to the World Cup and their sights are firmly set on Russia 2018 after two near misses in the last qualifying tournaments. Tough they have made some strides in the past decade and were Copa semi-finalists four years ago, this is an aging side whose window is closing fast. Top playmaker Juan Arango is 35 and forward Salomon Rondon is no longer a first-choice at Zenit St Petersburg. Middlesbrough defender Fernando Amorbrieta provides some interest for British bettors.
Key player: Salomon Rondon scored 13 goals in 26 games for Zenit, who cruised to the Russian title. Pacy and powerful, he has the ability to hold the ball up, too.
Prediction: Hopes of reaching the last four will rest a great deal on the ability of Rondon to find the net at regular intervals. Venezuela are always a tough nut to crack, but their lack of effective wide players and lack of pace at the back means they should not get past the group phase.
ODDS – 42.00
The halcyon days of Teofilo Cubillas, who led Peru to Copa glory in 1975, are long gone. While they went close last time, falling at the semi-final stage, this is one of the weakest of the CONMEBOL teams. A smattering of quality does still exist, although Claudio Pizzaro is now 36, and hopes wrest on the shoulders of promising talents like Sporting Lisbon’s André Carrillo and Red Bull Leipzig’s Yordy Reyna.
Key player: André Carrillo, 23, who plays as a winger or second striker for Sporting Lisbon, is ready to make the breakthrough at the top level. An emerging player to watch.
Prediction: Peru are in a tough group with Brazil and Colombia likely to fill the first two places and a defence that is unreliable will not help their cause. Also-rans on this occasion. Paddington Bear is not pleased.
ODDS – 200.00
Jamaica qualified for the 1998 World Cup in France and even defeated Japan 2-1, but that’s about as good as it is likely to get. While they reached the quarter-finals of the Gold Cup in 2003, 2005 and 2011, they have failed to qualify for the past four World Cups. Invited guests to the Copa, Jamaica beat Venezuela and Cuba in friendlies, and they do possess some quality in the side with Leicester defender Wes Morgan, Crystal Palace defender Adrian Mariappa, Leeds midfielder Rudolph Austin, Derby striker Simon Dawkins and Houston Dynamo striker Giles Barnes.
Key player: Reading winger Gareth McCleary received is international call-up two years ago alongside teammates Jobi McAnuff and Mariappa. Capped nine times and scoring once, he has a great football brain that brings others into the game.
Prediction: With plenty of players who have experience in the English Championship, they will be well organised and have the potential to cause an upset and will be entertaining. However, they will not progress beyond the group stage.
ODDS – 70.00
It is now five Copa Americas and counting since Bolivia won a game at the tournament. Having had three different managers in charge in the last four games perhaps tells us all we need to know (Mauricio Soria is currently in charge). Bolivia have had just one warm-up game – against Argentina – after pulling out of a clash with Nigeria over security fears and historically, they don’t travel well. Their best Copa results have come at home, which is no surprise, as they have the advantage of playing in La Paz, which is 3,600 metres above sea level.
Key player: Marcelo Martins was the leading scorer in the Libertadores Cup for Cruzeiro in 2008. Now 27, the former Wigan forward has won titles in Brazil and Ukraine and is now playing in China with Changchung Yatai.
Prediction: Bolivia are bereft of star performers and the lack of preparation will no doubt find them out. They will do well to secure a point.
Since the competition was brought back from disuse in 1987, in 11 subsequent tournaments there have been only two in which the winner did not come from the triumvirate of the three seeded teams. In this year’s competition the seeds are Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
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