This year’s Copa America will have very interesting match-ups but none will be as interesting as the rematch of last year’s Copa America final between Argentina and Chile.
The two are the big favorites to advance, joining them is one of the weakest sides of the tournament in Bolivia along with a very tricky Panamanian team.
By far Argentina has the best squad in the tournament therefore making them the clear favorites to win it all.
However it has been 23 years since Argentina last won the tournament in 1993 and since then has lost in three of the last four Copa America finals.
The big question is whether Messi and company can perform as a unit at the same level as they do for their clubs? that remains to be seen.
Weaknesses: Defense. Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Otamendia and Javier Mascherano are the only players on the back line that have experience, the other 5 defenders don’t have more than 11 appearances for the national team.
Who to look for: Lionel Messi. The success of Argentina in Copa America solely depends to the level of play in which their star Messi is in, if he finds the level at which he played at during the world cup (especially the earlier rounds) Argentina will be very tough to beat
The defending champions still have the biggest pieces that led them to their success last year: Claudio Bravo, Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara, Arturo Vidal, Eduardo Vargas and Alexis Sanchez.
The concern for Chile is that the team has been inconsistent after the departure of their coach Sampaoli. In their warm-up games Chile lost to Jamaica and Mexico although they outplayed Mexico and seemed closer to their full potential.
Weaknesses: Finding the net. Despite playing better than Mexico and Jamaica in their preparation games the team had trouble putting away their chances, their lone goal in those games came through a rebound on a Chilean player as a Jamaican defender tried to clear the ball.
Who to watch: Arturo Vidal. Coming off a strong season with Bayern Munich, Vidal is the soul of the team and the player that moves the string from the midfield. Vidal has a great ability to find his partner in crime Alexis Sanchez instinctively and the two together can create havoc for anyone standing on their way.
They have characterized themselves by becoming a very physical team that can hurt anyone on set pieces.
Panama has slowly become one of the best teams in CONCACAF reaching the semifinals in each of the last three Gold Cups.
Weaknesses: Defense. Their best defender Roman Torres is out of the tournament leaving the 35-year old Felipe Baloy as their main center back of the team.
Who to watch for: Jaime Penedo. For the last decade the goalkeeper has been an instrumental part of the success the Panamanian team has had. He is capable of keeping his team in games and up front they have experienced strikers such as Luis Tejada, Gabriel Torres and Blas Perez give the team the opportunity of shocking a bigger team.
A long with Haiti, Bolivia arguably has one of the weakest sides in the tournament only three of their players have played more than 30 games for their national team. The goal for Bolivia has to be to try to beat Panama and give their squad the experience of facing Argentina and Chile.
Weaknesses: Offense The team lack depth at every position but what is particularly troubling is the lack of goal scoring potential in their squad, the four strikers combine for 11 goals in 67 appearances.
1) Argentina 7pts. 2) Chile 7 pts. 3) Panama 3 pts. 4) Bolivia o pts.