Copa America is the world's oldest international soccer tournament, as its 1916 start pre-dates the World Cup by 14 years. This year's centennial edition of the South American championship is unique in a couple of ways, most notably that it's being played in the United States. Second, in addition to the usual 10 countries from South America (CONEMBOL), six nations from North and Central America (CONCACAF) will also compete.
The Copa America field is broken into four groups of four teams each, with the top two finishers in each group advancing to the knockout stage. The action kicks off Friday evening when the U.S. takes on Colombia at Levi's Field in Santa Clara.
Below are the odds of each team to win the Copa America, followed by some predictions.
Argentina (Group D) +200
Brazil (Group B) +470
Chile (Group D) +800
Uruguay (Group C) +930
USA (Group A) +970
Colombia (Group A) +975
Mexico (Group C) +1200
Ecuador (Group B) +3300
Costa Rica (Group A) +6400
Peru (Group B) +6600
Paraguay (Group A) +6600
Venezuela (Group C) +10000
Bolivia (Group D) +20000
Jamaica (Group C) +20000
Haiti (Group B) +80000
Most Likely Winner: Argentina
Argentina is the heavy favorite, and deservedly so. Wrap your mind around this attacking triumvirate possessed by the world's No. 1-ranked team: Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player in the world; Sergio Aguero, who has scored the most goals in the EPL over the past two seasons for Manchester City; and Gonzalo Higuain, who just set the Serie A scoring record when tallying 36 goals for Napoli.
That is some serious firepower that no other team can even approach. Messi (+500), Aguero (+600) and Higuain (+700) are the three favorites to lead the tournament in scoring.
Biggest Disappointments: Brazil, United States
Brazil has struggled in World Cup qualifying this cycle as they've won just two of six matches and currently sit in sixth place on the CONEMBOL table. In addition, the Copa America roster will be nowhere near full strength because of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio. The Brazilian federation has made that the priority of the summer. As a result, left off the Copa America roster are such notable stars as Neymar, David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Oscar. Yes, Brazil typically has a deep well of talent from which to draw, but that's just too many key pieces missing.
The United States exceeded expectations when escaping "The Group of Death" at the 2014 World Cup, but that momentum has failed to carry on. After a string of poor results, things finally hit rock bottom last summer when the U.S. inexcusably fell to Jamaica in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. This is a team that's in transition personnel-wise, and to this point Jurgen Klinsmann hasn't gotten close to putting the right combination on the pitch.
Incredibly, earlier this month the U.S. was as low as 7-1 and a shorter price than Uruguay (No. 9 in the world). That number has since floated up, but even +970 seems like a major underlay.
Best Value: Mexico, Uruguay
Mexico enters this tournament in excellent form. Since Carlos Osorio took over as manager the second half of last year, El Tri has won all eight of its competitive matches while holding opponents scoreless in six of those. Mexico boasts world-class talent with the likes of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Rafael Marquez and Andres Guardado. Chicharito just had his best season in Europe as he scored 26 goals in all competitions for Bayer Leverkusen. El Tri also figures to get plenty of fan support playing on U.S. soil.
Uruguay will be without world-class striker Luis Suarez until the knockout stage because of injury, but there is still lots to like with this traditional power. It has a veteran backline that's one of the best in the tournament. Forward Edison Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain is another top-flight striker, which lessens the loss of Suarez. And Uruguay, which has won more Copa America titles than any other nation, is in a relatively weak group. So as long as Suarez makes the knockout stage as projected, everything should be in order for Uruguay.
Uruguay was a juicy +1400 a month ago, but even now at a shade under 10/1 it would seem a worthy proposition.
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