It’s that time of the year in sports where the dreaded doldrums of summer baseball begin to creep in ever so closely. The NBA and NHL will soon crown their respective champions, and the landscape of sports will start to run dry. However, there is a figure in the distance. Is it a mirage? Thankfully no. It’s soccer, and before all of you American football fans start to groan, the good old United States national team is involved, so you might want to take an interest.
Starting June 5 and ending June 29, the Copa America will feature the Western hemisphere’s best national teams. This year looks like it could be an interesting one. I am going to give a brief preview and prediction for each of the groups’ winners and runners-up. I’ll start with Group A.
Group A is by far the most competitive group in the entire cup with USA, Columbia, Costa Rica and Paraguay making it up. For the second straight cup, the USA has been casted into “The Group of Death”, as it is so called. But fear not stars and stripes fans, the USA will advance by the skin of their teeth to the round of 16 along with Colombia ahead of them. Group A is going to be interesting to watch, but then there is Group B.
Philippe Coutinho and Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, aka “Hulk” are two of the big names that make up the Brazilian national team. They will have to face Ecuador, Peru and Haiti. It’s safe to say they will advance with a perfect 3-0-0 record. As for the second place team, it is really a toss-up between Peru and Ecuador.
Ecuador boasts a more lethal attacking force with Antonio Valencia headlining the midfield and Enner Valencia at winger, but Peru has the ability to hold it down defensively. With that, I am going with Peru because 0-0 draw is better than 3-3 draw when goal difference comes into play.
Group C is a two-horse race between Uruguay and Mexico with each team sporting its own star at striker. Uruguay is led by one of the best strikers in the world, Luis Suárez. Mexico is led by a surprising comeback player, Javier “Chicharito” Hernández. However, Uruguay presents a better defense with Diego Godín and Alvaro Pereira holding down the center-back positions. Uruguay will finish first with Mexico not far behind them.
Group D is much like Group B where it is really a one team race. An Argentina squad, led by Lionel Messi, will have to face the likes of Chile, Bolivia and Panama. Chile, with the dazzling Alexis Sánchez, is the only team that will give Argentina trouble with a possible tie between the two. Most likely, Argentina will win the group unscathed with Chile behind them at a distant second.
This year’s Copa America has a lot of questions leading up to it. Will Argentina and Brazil avenge their defeats at the hands of Germany in the finals match-up? Can the U.S. prove to the powers of South America that they are for real? Who will be the dark horse that disrupts the entire thing? Those questions will be answered come June. It’s better than watching a mid-June matchup between the Red Sox and Twins in my opinion.