The Copa America 2007


                                                                           

Get your most colourful outfit and the silliest hat you own at the ready, the Copa America is coming. Of course these are not completely obligitory and you are perfectly entitled to watch the action on some ridiculously obscure television channel (or sky sports, although the grainy picture and foreign language commentary makes the experience that bit more authentic) on a rainy night in a pub in Ireland… bit too close to home that one. Well I for one will be wearing my silly hat and securing my fix of precious footballing nectar during the long summer drought.

 The oldest ‘National Teams’ tournament in the world kicks off for the 42nd time on June 26th and if you are not exactly sure what is going on then you are in the right place. This is a guide to the tournament, what to expect and who to look out for. With brief overviews of each team and predictions as to how they will do, this is your ultimate guide to the Copa America. The teams are divided into three groups of four and these have been confirmed as:

Group A

Venezuela

Bolivia

Uruguay

Peru

Group B

Brazil

Mexico

Ecuador

Chile

Group C

Argentina

USA

Paraguay

Colombia

In a funny way, that only our South American cousins could manage, they have an invited team who don’t have to qualify but simply turn up. This year it is the USA but in truly ignorant fashion, when first asked, they rejected the invitation. The head of the Cost Rican FA then got a phone call and jumped at the chance to fill the vacant space only for the US to change it’s mind and Costa Rica were dumped out of the tournament. And all of this before a ball is even kicked! Besides all the scandal and posturing international tournaments inevitably throw up, there will also be a bit of football played and this is far more worthy of our attention.

GROUP A 

Venezuela

Never won the tournament before and, to be honest, aren’t very likely. They have never gotten past the group stages and this year, as hosts, they are likely to have their best chance ever of breaking the trend. They have also never featured in a world cup. With such a poor international pedigree they are most certainly going to be the whipping boys of the tournament.

Players of note:

Juan Arango, who plays in La Liga for Real Mallorca is their only player of real reputaion.

Prediction:

Cannon Fodder, out after first round                                                                  

Uruguay

The team with two World Cups, Uruguay also have a healthy number of Copa America victories totlalling 14 in all and most of the time when they didn’t win it they finished in the top four. They haven’t won it since 1995 however and they appear to be slipping slightly in the dominance stakes of South America’s premier competition. Is their a resurgence on the cards? Since that win in 95′ they have gone out in the first round, finished 2nd, 4th and 3rd. Will this be their year?

Players of note:

Uruguay have a decent number of European based players supplemented by a few solid home talents. Names you will have heard are Diego Forlan, former Manchester United striker who now plays for Villareal. Scored a wonder goal in the ’98 World Cup if I remember correctly. Could be banging ’em in this summer. Alvaro Recoba, Inter Milan, gone off the boil in recent years, might not figure too much. Carlos Bueno from Sporting Lisbon. 27 year old striker who once scored four goals in twenty minutes against Nacional (Check it!)

Prediction:

Decent Outfit, Semi Finals 

Peru

With two wins in the competition to date, Peru have some degree of history in the Copa America. They have made the quarterfinals on the past three occasions and in ’97 they finished 4th. Again, they are a team with an outside chance of upsetting the apple cart but it appears quite unlikely. In their last three friendlies they have lost twice by a two goal margin at home to Japan and Ecuador. This run of form could prove telling.

Players of note:

Peruvian players you may recognise this summer include new Chelsea acquisition, Claudio Pizzaro. Having stagnated somewhat at Bayern don’t be surprised to see a rejuvenated Pizzaro out to make a statement. PSV Eindhoven’s Farfan will also be one to keep an eye on along with Barnsley ace Miguel Mostto. This striker was top scorer in the Peruvian league in 2006 before being snapped up by the oakwell outfit earlier this month.

Prediction:

A huge number of home based players means that they won’t be overly relient on the European players to succeed. Could just be the difference for them. Form is against them though.

Scrappy Fighters, Out after first round                                                                        

Bolivia

Historically a very weak team, they have one win in the competition. Since finishing runners-up in ’97 they have invariably failed to get out of the group and this is also the case in World Cup campaigns. On the three occasions they qualified they never escaped their group. only three of the current squad ply their trade outside of South America and this may be an indicator of their talents. Having seen a friendly against the Republic of Ireland however, I would not dismiss this squad. They played well against a decent Irish side and at times dominated the game. Having gone behind to an early goal, Bolivia showed character and determination to pull themselves back into the game and earn a draw.

 Players of Note:

Hmmm… No European greats spring to mind. They have, however, recalled Jaime Moreno. The DC United hitman who, incidentally, is the MLS’ joint top scorer of all time with 108 goals. He was recalled after six years in the wilderness for the game against Ireland and the former Middlesbrough player is sure to want to impress.

Prediction:

Surprise Package, Quarterfinals

GROUP B                                                                         

Brazil

This is an interesting one. The holders of the Copa America are going into battle without some of their best players. Messrs; Kaka, Ronaldinho, Dida and Ronaldo to name but a few have all been excused from the tournament because of the intensity of the European season. While this takes from the quality of the tournament and reduces its profile on the international stage it also makes it more interesting. We now get to European golden boot winner, Alfonso Alves doing his thing for the national side along with Robinho of Madrid. It is also not a foregone conclusion that Brazil will hold onto the Copa America.

Players of note:

Where do you start? With only three home based players you will probably have heard of most of Brazil’s squad. Manchester United’s new signing, Anderson will get some playing time and will be keen to show what he can do on the big stage. Chelsea recruit Alex will also be in the frame for a regular berth after impressive displays this season for PSV. Inter Milan trickster, Maicon will be excited about getting a run for his country and a player I regard as simply phenomenol, Sevilla’s Daniel Alves, should be stretching his legs down that right touchline. Oh I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

Prediction:

First Class, Winners

Chile

A bit like Villa, up and down with one decent season thrown in. Chile have never won the Copa America. They have finished in a variety of different positions though, ranging from losing all their group games to finsishing runners-up. Over five competitions during the 70’s and 80’s these were the only two positions they finished in, alternating each time. They once made the semi finals of the World Cup but usually struggle to get out of the group only doing so on one other occasion but lost in the following game.

Players of note:

Not too many to pick from here to be honest. Liverpool winger and Real Betis target, Mark Gonzalez would be one of the more high profile players and having had a relatively quiet season for Liverpool he has to do something, doesn’t he? Keeper, Claudio Bravo is another European based player who may prove vital to Chilean hopes this summer. The Real Sociedad player is making a reputation for himself in Spain and he will get the chance to cement that this summer. The Twelfth Man is another thing. Chilean supporters are a bit famous for their die hard support of their team and also ensure a big turnout and a lot of colour. This may be a slender advantage.

Prediction:

Scrappy Fighters, Quarterfinals

Mexico

Ah yes, Mexico. With how cheap the beer is there it’s surprising that they can keep eleven men sober enough to play a game of football. But they do. And they’re fairly good at it too. Mexico had to be invited to the Copa America as they are actually governed by a different footballing federation but since their first appearance in ’93 these newcomers have been a revelation. Having made the quarterfinals on every occasion they went further four times finishing 3rd twice and 2nd twice.

Players to note:

Former Bolton man, Jared Borgetti, is Mexico’s all time top scorer with 43 goals in 84 games. Considering he is still knocking around expect him to bang in a few although he is know playing in Mexico for Cruz Azul. Not that that would seriously affect him, I’m just saying. Other than Borgetti, Mexico’s other famous footballing son is Barcelona defender, Rafael Marquez.

Prediction:

Decent Outfit, Semifinals

Ecuador

Long thought of as the team that only wins and qualifies for things because their home ground is closer to the moon than sea-level, Ecuador have lately been surprising the critics. Having qualified for two world cups by asking visiting teams to play wearing breathing apparatus, they then went to the World Cup and did well. In the 2006 tournament they lost to England in the second round by a single goal. In the Copa America however, they have not fared too well with their best result being 4th back in’93 and they haven’t escaped from their group on the past three occasions.

Players to note:

Reading and former Villa defender, Ullises De La Cruz is described as a lynchpin for the national side and performed well in last summer’s World Cup. He is, however, not getting any younger and, despite scoring on his debut for Reading, does not figure very often for Steve Coppell’s side. Again, this is another side with a strong representation of home based players.

Prediction:

Cannon Fodder, Out after first round 

GROUP C                                                                                

Argentina

The Argies are an interesting side in that new coach, Alfio Basile, has created two national sides. He has a side of home based players of whom Juan Sebastian Veron is the reported leader and also his side of European based players. He coaches his ‘B’ team every Monday and Tuesday and many of these players were expected to figure in his Copa America squad. In the end, only 3 of the 21 from the ‘B’ team were chosen, including Veron who will more than likely be captain. This is coache Alfio Basile’s second spell in charge of the national team and in his first stint from ’91 to ’94 they won this competition both times. Even though they have won the Copa 14 times, they have not won it since Alfio Basile left. It’s all set up really isn’t it?

Players to note:

Everyone. Literally. The other two Home players alongside Veron are goalkeepers so with the exception of them nearly everyone else is a household name. Veron could be one to watch though as he is having a bit of an Indian summer at Estudiantes de la Plata, inspiring them to win the championship. Diego Milito, Mascherano and Tevez, Ayala etc. etc. This is a top class team with strength in depth. Their performance at last summer’s World Cup leaves some doubt in my mind though.

Prediction:

First Class, Final

Paraguay

A bit of  saucy number. We would recognise Paraguay from the past three World Cups. They didn’t do much when they arrived but they still qualified. Their record in the Copa America is a bit better though. They have won the tournament twice and have made the quarterfinals in five of the last six tournaments. Can they go a bit farther this time around?

Players of note:

Munich’s Roque Santa Cruz is Paraguay’s moct high profile footballer, seeing as lunatic ‘keeper, Chilavert retired. Again the bones of this squad all play their football in South America with a decidedly Argentinian feel. The coach is an Argie and many of the players play in teh Argie league.

Prediction:

Middle of the road, Quarterfinals.

Colombia

With their domestic league in tatters and many clubs bankrupt, Colombia will be hoping to raise footballing spirits with a good run out in the Copa America as Italy did with the World Cup last summer. This is easier said than done though. With many of their clubs indistinguishable from drug cartels many of them are banned from doing business by the Government. This means that much of Columbian talent stays in the country and this is not necessarily a good thing. They do, however, have one Copa America to their name from 2001 and last time around they made the semifinals.

Players of note:

Most players are home based with a few in Europe but none of particular reputation. Bordeaux striker, Edixon Perea is a bright light of Colombian football but has not been making huge waves in Ligue one. Southampton midfielder John Viafara will also be making the trip from Europe to Venezuela this summer.

Prediction:

Cannon Fodder, Out after first round

USA

The invitees. In their twoprevious appearances they didn’t make it out of the group and finished 4th respectively. The US are a bit of an unknown quantity in this tournament but can not be ruled out due to the squad they posses. A distinctly Anglo/American feel to the squad is probably a good thing in that many of the players are of a high standard but one must wonder if the conditions in South America in the month of June might favour the other nations in the competition.

Players of note:

The English based players of the squad, while decent enough, have not set the world alight with their performances in the Premiership this season with the exception of Everton ‘Keeper, Tim Howard. His form will be crucial to their fortunes in the tournament. Another player to keep an eye on is Standard Liege’s striker Oguchi Onyewu. he has been making a name for himself and could take this chance to impress even further.

Prediction: 

Scrappy Fighters, Quarterfinals

The top two from each group go through to the Quarterfinal along with the two best third places teams. Exciting eh?

Be sure to check back at the fc100 to find out all the news from the Copa America when it begins on the 26th of June.


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  1. June 26, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    Argentinas gonna win this time…

  2. edipengi
    June 26, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    You could be right there. It will be tight definitely. Brazil v Argentina final anyway. I just think Brazil will edge it though. Thanks for the comment!

  3. rami
    July 12, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    mjh

  1. June 28, 2007 at 5:40 pm
  2. July 6, 2007 at 8:31 pm

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