The 2019 Copa America gets under way this weekend with hosts Brazil starting their campaign on Friday night. Lionel Messi and Argentina kick off on Saturday with the holders Chile playing their first game on Monday. This promises to be a compelling tournament and here are four tips from the opening round of fixtures.
Brazil v Bolivia
Morumbi, Friday June 14
The headline ahead of Brazil’s Copa America opener against Bolivia on Friday evening is that they will be without Neymar, not just for this game, but for the duration of the tournament. That opens up a hole in the Seleção attack. David Neres could feasibly start on the left side with Richarlison also expected to start up front alongside Gabriel Jesus, who will be burdened with the goalscoring responsibility. Roberto Firmino could also feature.
Brazil are unbeaten in the 10 games they have played since the 2018 World Cup while Bolivia have claimed just one win from their last 16 outings. Bolivia managed to hold Brazil to a goalless draw in their last meeting back in 2017, but anything less than a victory for the tournament favourites would be a shock here.
1u - Back Philippe Coutinho Anytime Goalscorer @ +100
Argentina v Colombia
Fonte Nova Arena, Saturday June 15
This is the marquee fixture of the group stages at this year’s Copa America. Both these teams will be looking to make a deep run at the tournament. Argentina expect to win it despite this being far from a vintage La Albiceleste side. Of course, expectations are naturally raised when you have Lionel Messi within your ranks.
Argentina have yet to settle on a consistent lineup with Angel di Maria, Roberto Pereyra and Rodrigo de Paul all vying for the one position on the left side of the attack. Giovani Lo Celso will play on the right with Sergio Aguero and Messi through the middle. Colombia have failed to score in their last five meetings against Argentina. Three of those games ended goalless and this could be another tight affair.
0.75u -Back Under 1.5 Goals @ +187
Paraguay v Qatar
Maracana, Sunday June 16
We know what you’re thinking - when did Qatar become a South American country? Well, they are one of two outside teams (along with Japan) who have been invited to take part in this summer’s competition and as Asian champions they might not be as out of their depth as many might presume they would be.
Paraguay have only won one of their last eight matches. Qatar lost to Brazil in their final warm-up game before this tournament, but that was only a 2-0 loss and their first defeat in seven matches. Miguel Almiron could be the main man for Paraguay with the Newcastle United playmaker their creator-in-chief. Qatar will make this tough for the South Americans.
0.5u - Back Draw @ +240
Uruguay v Ecuador
Mineirão, Sunday June 16
Another South American heavyweight will kick off their Copa America campaign this weekend with Uruguay taking on Ecuador in Belo Horizonte. Indeed, Uruguay have won all three of the games they have played in 2019 with a combined scoreline of 10-0. Meanwhile, Ecuador are without a win in their last four games.
There are fitness concerns over Luis Suarez. Edinson Cavani hasn’t started a game for his country this year, but even if the PSG striker and his Barcelona counterpart don’t start Maxi Gomez and Cristhian Stuani give Uruguay depth in the attacking third. Ecuador mustn’t be underestimated, but Uruguay will be favourites.
1.25u - Back Uruguay to Win To Nil @ +154