This Friday, CONMEBOL’s biggest international tournament will begin on Brazilian soil when the match between Brazil and Bolivia kicks off the 2019 Copa America. Chile will try to defend their back-to-back titles won in 2015 and 2016, but a plethora of teams will aim to stop La Roja’s out-of-nowhere winning run earlier this decade.
This time, we’ll take a deeper look at Group A. It features the host nation, Peru, Venezuela and Bolivia.
La Canarinha will undoubtedly be weakened without Neymar, who suffered an injury during Brazil’s 2-0 win over Qatar in a recent friendly match. However, Tite’s men have enough depth, quality and experience to be considered as one of the candidates in the tournament. Playing at home should favour them, and the fact that some of the other top countries in the CONMEBOL region are also going through rebuilding processes might work in their favour as well.
However, who says Brazil won’t be affected by the pressure? It already happened during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the country hasn’t won anything since they claimed the 2013 Confederations Cup. Can they shake off those woes and lift the title in front of their own crowd? At the very least, they are massive favourites to reach the quarterfinals with relative ease.
Expected Starting XI: Alisson; Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Joao Miranda, Filipe Luis; Casemiro, Arthur; David Neres, Philippe Coutinho; Richarlison; Gabriel Jesus (Roberto Firmino)
Peru must be one of the toughest teams to analyse entering the 2019 Copa America. On one hand, they repeat most of the squad that featured in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But on the other one, they have struggled badly when it comes to form in recent months. Aside from a convincing 3-0 win over Chile last year, Los Incas have struggled to play at a high level on a consistent basis.
Despite their struggles, Ricardo Gareca’s men shouldn’t have problems to advance into the next round. The match against Venezuela will be decisive to determine their fate, but anything else than a quarterfinal berth – on a worst-case scenario – would be a massive disappointment.
Expected Starting XI: Pedro Gallese; Luis Advincula, Anderson Santamaria, Miguel Araujo, Miguel Trauco; Renato Tapia, Yoshimar Yotun; Andre Carrillo, Christian Cueva, Edison Flores; Paolo Guerrero
La Vinotinto are a team on the rise. They’re coming off a quarterfinal berth in the 2016 Copa America and while they finished dead last in the 2018 FIFA World Cup CONMEBOL Qualifiers, there’s no question Rafael Dudamel is doing an interesting job with the National Team. He has constantly repeated that the side’s main goal is to prepare the team to fight for a 2022 FIFA World Cup spot. But opposing sides shouldn’t consider them an easy opponent.
Venezuela registered a 3-0 win in their most recent friendly against the United States and if they play on a similar level during the Copa America, then they have a realistic shot at getting past the Group Stage once again. Clearly inferior to Brazil but superior to Bolivia, the match against Peru will probably determine the side’s fate in the tournament. But they are a team to watch, no doubt about it.
Expected Starting XI: Wuilker Fariñez; Ronald Hernandez, Jhon Chancellor, Mikel Villanueva, Roberto Rosales; Jhon Murillo, Tomas Rincon, Yangel Herrera, Darwin Machis; Salomon Rondon, Josef Martinez
Last but not least, we have Bolivia. Arguably the weakest side in the CONMEBOL region by a considerable margin, La Verde will struggle to gain a single point during the 2019 Copa America. Even though the group isn’t a terrible one, Bolivia seem to be a few steps below the rest of the region when it comes to talent, experience and cohesion in the National Team.
Manager Eduardo Villegas knows the country’s main goal is to prepare the side for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. And while a good showing here could represent a huge morale boost, Bolivia fans must be realistic. Anything else than avoiding the final spot in the group stage should already be considered a massive success.
Expected Starting XI: Carlos Lampe; Diego Bejarano, Luis Haquin, Adrian Jusino, Marvin Bejarano; Alejandro Chumacero, Diego Wayar, Leonel Justiniano, Erwin Saavedra; Samuel Galindo; Marcelo Moreno Martins
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