Copa America – Group C Preview
The final two groups have clear cut favorites to advance. In Group C, Mexico and Uruguay are expected to advance to the next round and the opener between the two in Glendale might be the game that determines who avoids Argentina in the Quarterfinals. But watch out for Jamaica that has played well recently and although Venezuela is dealing with many internal problems still has talented players that can get anyone on trouble.
Under head coach Juan Carlos Osorio, Mexico is now 7-0 and has yet to concede a single goal. The biggest concern for the team is their lackluster performances against Paraguay and Chile despite winning both games 1-0.
Part of the instability that has risen is due to the fact that Osorio likes to rotate and use most if not all of the players at his disposal, although he can get to see more players in action it will make it more difficult for his starting eleven to work well as a unit.
Although the Copa America is next, something tells me the rotations aren’t over just yet.
The most crucial game for Mexico is their debut against Uruguay, the game could become the key win in order to win the group and avoid Argentina in the quarterfinals.
Weaknesses: Defense. Rafael Marquez is 37-years old and not as quick as he once was, Hector Moreno is the best center back the team has but the rest don’t seem to be up to par. Diego Reyes is smart and tall defender but can get easily pushed around by stronger players and is often outpaced. The two possible defenders that can come up from the bench are Nestor Araujo and Yasser Corona. Araujo had a good season at Santos Laguna but still seems early for him to take a big role for the national team and Corona makes tends to lose many balls in his own half. The testament of how this two defenders struggle was seen when both started for Mexico in the friendly against Chile.
Who to watch for: Andres Guardado. The attention of everyone will be centered around Javier Hernandez, but Guardado is the heart and soul of this team and the success of the team will be greatly dependent on how well the PSV Eindhoven man performs this summer.
The biggest question for the team is how serious is the injury of Luis Suarez is. Team doctors estimated that he could be out of the group stage of the tournament, but don’t be surprised if he makes a surprise appearance against Mexico.
The team is studded with stars, goalie Fernando Muslera has been one of the best in the continent in recent years, their backline is highlighted by the Atletico de Madrid duo Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez and up front the two goalscorers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez.
Weaknesses: If Suarez is not able to play the team has an entire different dynamic, however the weak link might be its midfield. Don’t forget they still have players like Carlos Sanchez, Nicolas Lodeiro and Egidio Arevalo Rios and Arturo Gonzalez, the problems is that some of them are getting close to the end of their international careers and the options of the bench are few.
Who to watch for: Luis Suarez. By being included in the squad its clear that he will play although no one’s sure when, but once he is on the field he is the player to keep an eye on.
Last year Jamaica was seen as the minnow that was expected to be brutally defeated by Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay in last year’s Copa America. Even though they lost all three games, they lost 1-0 and became a headache. Then they went on into the world cup and beat reach the final in which they fell to Mexico.
To add to the potential that the team has they went on the road and defeated the defending Copa America Champions Chile 2-1 in Viña del Mar
Weaknesses: Goalkeeper, lack of depth. Thompson who was the second goalie last year is now the starter and from his performances last year and world cup qualifying it seems he can be a liability for the team.
Who to watch for: Wes Morgan. Jamaica has some good players that play wide that are worth watching, but Wes Morgan had a fantastic season this year to help Leicester City in the most improbable Premier League title run.
Throughout the last couple of years the Venezuelan team has had many internal issues that have affected the team. Also the squad that will be participating at Copa America seems to be heavy on experienced players nearing the end of their international careers and some who are barely starting.
A 2-1 loss to Costa Rica and a 1-1 draw against Guatemala hasn’t earned the team a lot of confidence heading into a daunting tournament.
Weaknesses: Depth and inexperience. 14 of the 23 players have 15 or fewer appearances for the national team and although they have a few good players there are too many gaps in this team to consider them to have an outside chance of advancing to the next round.
Who to watch: Salomon Rondon. The striker called the attention of many when he was part of Zenit St. Petersburg. Although he had a decent season at West Bromwich the adjustment wasn’t easy, but despite the off year he is probably the best player available in the squad.
1) Uruguay 7 pts. 2) Mexico 7 pts. 3) Jamaica 3 pts. 4) Venezuela 0 pts.