Outsiders – The best of the rest at the Copa America

Outsiders – The best of the rest at the Copa America

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Adam Grimshaw –

There are two stand out favourites going into this year’s 2019 Copa America, and it comes as no surprise that hosts Brazil and their archrivals Argentina are both being strongly backed to lift this year’s trophy. But one of the questions going into the tournamenet, who are the darkhorses, the outsiders that could win it?

Both countries have gone a long stretch without a victory (Brazil – 2007, Argentina – 1993) and have serious question marks surrounding their performances on the big stage.

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Having said that, there’s plenty of quality in this year’s Copa America, but who are the outsiders looking to challenge the two big favourites?

To follow Copa America from the first kick on the 14 June to the final on 7 July consult the professionals with expert betting tips complete with full match analysis.

Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and Peru – Assessing the outsiders

Uruguay

At 8/1 Uruguay are being backed as third favourites to win Copa America 2019. They represent a great value bet, and when you see their squad it’s hard to imagine why the bookies have them at such high odds.

La Celeste have an exciting mixture of young talent as well as the tried and tested among their ranks.

Their defensive line is arguably the strongest at this year’s competition. Built on a solid bedrock of former Atlético Madrid centre back duo of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, they showed what they’re capable of last summer in Russia.

Manager Oscar Tabarez can complement his experienced central two with youthful, full backs Mathias Suarez and Marcelo Sarrachi, who will provide pace on the flanks going forward.

Outsiders Matias Vecino, Luis Suarez, Lucas Torreira and Jose Gimenez of Uruguay look on during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Quarter Final match between Uruguay and France at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on July 6, 2018 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Matias Vecino, Luis Suarez, Lucas Torreira and Jose Gimenez of Uruguay look on during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Quarter Final match between Uruguay and France at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on July 6, 2018 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Ahead of that is a mouthwatering midfield comprising the likes of Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira, Matias Vecino and young Juventus starlet Rodrigo Bentancur.

Though the cherry on top of the cake is without a doubt the front two pairing of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. Although a little older than many would care to admit this is perhaps the last Copa America where they can make a difference and they’ll want to see silverware.

After missing out to eventual world champions France at last year’s World Cup, Uruguay lost four back to back friendlies to close off 2018. Since then they’ve picked up their form going into this year’s Copa America.

Drawn in Group C, they face challenges from reigning champions Chile as well as World Cup round of 16 finishers Japan, followed by Ecuador. Considering their quality, they should top the group.

Chile

Back to back reigning champions, Chile have enjoyed better days. Since successfully defending their Copa America title three years ago they faced the ignominy of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia last year.

Since then they’ve had a mixed record in friendly matches towards the back end of 2018. Though considering they have one of the better squads in the tournament they should never be written off.

It’s certainly a Chile team in transition but they still have a wealth of well versed players at their disposal. La Roja can count on of the most experienced defenses in the competition. Captain Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara, Mauricio Isla and Jean Beausejour have all been named as part of the 23-man squad and have over 400 caps between them.

The problem is until more players choose to step up and come through the ranks Chile will still be relying on older, big name players such as Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez to get the job done.

Oscar Opazo #15 of Chile celebrates with Arturo Vidal #8, Diego Valdes #10 and Mauricoi Arias #4 after scoring in the first half against the USA at BBVA Compass Stadium on March 26, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Oscar Opazo #15 of Chile celebrates with Arturo Vidal #8, Diego Valdes #10 and Mauricoi Arias #4 after scoring in the first half against the USA at BBVA Compass Stadium on March 26, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

History repeated itself in 2016 when Chile, for the second time in succession, went into a final against rivals Argentina only to win on penalties after a goalless draw in extra time.

The Chileans will have to successfully navigate a tricky group comprising Uruguay, Japan and Ecuador, but if they manage that feat, it should give them the boost they need to propel themselves forward.

It’s hard to see that outsiders Chile can produce the goods a third time round, but then if anyone knows how to get the job done in difficult circumstances, it’s Reinaldo Rueda’s boys in red.

Colombia

Along with Uruguay, Colombia have long been one of the more exciting prospects of South American football and are an interesting outsider. Their flair and penchant for going forward coupled with the talent they have up top have won over the hearts of many neutrals in two successive World Cups.

Since going out to England on penalties at last year’s World Cup, Colombia have gone from strength to strength with a recent friendly defeat to South Korea the only blemish on their record.

One time winners as hosts back in 2001, Colombian fans will feel they deserve a little more for their troubles. More recent Copa America finals have delivered a third-place finish as recently as 2016 and a quarter final finish the year before that.

La Tricolor are going into this year’s tournament with arguably their best squad in some time and with newly appointed Carlos Queiroz fresh from Tehran they have an able and experienced tactician to organise their talent.

The Colombians, as we’ve become accustomed to as of late, will be looking to do some serious damage up front. Star forwards James Rodriguez, and Radamel Falcao will be joined by Duvan Zapata who is in the form of his life after firing Atalanta to their first Champions League berth ever. Backing all that up is ever reliable provider Juan Cuadrado.

At the back, they’re fortified with a solid defensive line of Premier League tried and tested Yerry Mina and Davinson Sanchez, who are complemented by AC Milan’s Cristian Zapata.

Colombia are full of confidence, and it’s no wonder why. Should they see off the likes of Argentina, Paraguay and Qatar in Group B you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’ll want to face Colombia come the knockout stages, even if they are one of the outsiders.

Peru

At 33/1 to win this year’s Copa America, it’s perhaps a little far fetched to expect La Blanquirroja to go all the way. Yet they are still an interesting prospect among the outsiders. The Peruvians fought hard last summer at the World Cup, only just missing out going through to the knockout stages at the last gasp.

Peru show up at big tournaments demanding respect and have performed well at recent Copa Americas. They made it to the knockouts stage in 2016 and finished an impressive third in 2015.

Sweden's Ludwig Augustinsson (L) vies with Peru's Paulo Guerrero (C) during the international friendly footbal match Sweden vs Peru in Gothenburg, on June 9, 2018. (Photo by Adam IHSE / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP)

Sweden’s Ludwig Augustinsson (L) vies with Peru’s Paulo Guerrero (C) during the international friendly footbal match Sweden vs Peru in Gothenburg, on June 9, 2018. (Photo by Adam IHSE / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP)

Peru don’t have the flair of Colombia or the wealth of talent of Uruguay but they utilise the talent they have at their disposal much more effectively than say a Brazil or Argentina. What’s more, they play as a team.

Unfortunately, Peru are still relying on ageing players to make the difference. The likes of 34-year-old Jefferson Farfan and Internacional’s 36-year striker Paolo Guerrero are mainstays of their attack.

What’s perhaps most interesting to those tuning in to this year’s Copa America will be to see how Peru attempt to overcome Group A when pitted against the likes of Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela.

Peru certainly have more quality and big competition experience than other outsiders Venezuela and Bolivia. While nobody expects much against Brazil, meeting the favourites will provide stern competition to pit themselves against.


You can follow Adam Grimshaw on Twitter @adamgeorgie

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