Best Odds: 9/4
The 2016 Copa America Centenario kicks off this weekend as hosts United States welcome new-look Colombia to the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. And with Costa Rica and Paraguay also competing in Group A, both sides will be hoping to record a win and thus make an important step towards the knockout stages.
The United States national team appear to have closed the gap behind world’s top sides under Jurgen Klinsmann, but they have also suffered some low points that made some question the German’s coaching credentials. The USMNT shone at the 2014 World Cup, qualifying from the group of death before giving star-studded Belgium a run for their money in the last 16 stage. The team have since recorded some very good results, winning successive games against Mexico, Netherlands and Germany, but they were largely disappointing at the 2015 Gold Cup, finishing in fourth place. And with USA also struggling at the start of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, many believed the 2016 Copa America Centenario will prove yet another disappointing tournament for the Yanks, but that may not necessarily be the case. National team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has made some brave choices with his squad selection, including a number of talented youngsters on the roster, and friendly wins over Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Bolivia are enough to suggest his team are on the right track. However, the match against Colombia will be a whole different ball game, and it remains to be seen whether USA can keep the rich vein of form.
Jozy Altidore and Timmy Chandler miss out the tournament through injury, while Mix Diskerud, Julian Green and Jordan Morris have been overlooked.
Borussia Dortmund starlet Christian Pulisic and Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe not only made the cut, but they showed a great deal of potential in final warm-up games.
Colombia have emerged as one of South America’s top sides in recent years and the team have flourished under the guidance of Jose Pekerman. Los Cafeteros performed really well at both 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa America, but were unfortunate to be eliminated by Brazil and Argentina respectively despite matching their more illustrious opponents for large periods of the game. The national team coach decided to rejuvenate his squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, with Fredy Guarin, Abel Aguilar, Macnelly Torres, Radamel Falcao and Teo Gutierrez all struggling to make the squad nowadays, but that does not appear to be a problem as a number of talented youngsters are coming through the ranks. And while Frank Fabra and Edwin Cardona already have important roles to play, Pekerman has called few more inexperienced footballers for the Copa America, although the likes of James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Carlos Bacca and David Ospina are still in the side. Following the difficult start to the World Cup qualifiers, Colombia have seriously raised their form to record back to back wins over Bolivia and Ecuador, while they recorded a comfortable triumph over Haiti in their only warm-up game.
Jackson Martinez, Radamel Falcao and Fredy Guarin didn’t even make the preliminary squad, while Luis Muriel, Adrian Ramos and Oscar Murillo have failed to make the cut.
Roger Martinez and Marlos Moreno are two talented forwards that will be looking to make an impact, while Cristian Bonilla and Yerry Mina have yet to win their first caps.
Key Factors to Consider
- USA scored one goal in last three meetings with Colombia
- Colombia won both meetings at the Copa America
- Los Cafeteros won four of eight games vs USA (D2 L2)
- Colombia are on a three-match winning run
- USMNT won last four games in all competitions
The United States national team have shown a great deal of improvement in recent weeks and they head into their opening game in excellent spirits. However, Colombia are definitely superior in terms of quality even if they are not exactly in top form, so we believe the two sides will cancel each other out.
Best Odds: 9/4