The Copa America 2016 kicks off on Friday, 3rd June, with host United States taking on Colombia in the opening match.
It is a special Copa America edition as the competition marks its 100th anniversary. Hence, the name: Copa America Centenario.
Chile won the competition last summer but can they win it again? Let us take a look at the major contenders.
Can Messi deliver for his country?
The Barcelona maestro has won four Champions League and eight La Liga titles (including this season) with the Blaugrana but he hasn’t won any major competition with his country as yet. He came close to winning the World Cup and Copa America in 2014 and 2015, but in both occasions Argentina lost in the finals to Germany and Chile respectively.
The 2016 Copa America presents another golden opportunity for Messi to end his trophy drought. With a bunch of talented and in-form strikers around (Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero) Argentina are well equipped to take Copa home for the first time since 1993.
All hopes rest on Luis Suarez
Suarez has enjoyed a phenomenal campaign for Barca in 2015/16. Not only did he claim the Pichichi award after scoring 40 goals in La Liga, he was also instrumental in setting up goals for others as well. He has won this competition before and there’s no reason why the former Liverpool striker cannot repeat the heroics again.
More Copa America 2016 Links
- Copa America Groups & Schedules
- Copa America: 10 things you need to know
- Copa America Blog: It’s all coming up Messi
No Neymar, time for Coutinho to deliver
Neymar, Brazil’s best player by some distance, won’t be participating in Copa 2016, but the Selecao have a bunch of gifted young talents to look forward to. The likes of Marquinhos, Philippe Coutinho, Willian, and Felipe Anderson are already stars for their respective clubs, but it remains to be seen whether they gel as a unit and bring Copa to Brazil for the first time since 2007.
Can La Roja successfully defend their title?
Only a year back Chile won the tournament beating Argentina but can they defend their title successfully? There is no shortage of quality players to their ranks with the likes of Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez being their two best players, but they don’t have Jorge Sampaoli this year, the mastermind behind their Copa success last term.
Rodriguez to dazzle at big stage again?
It hasn’t been a great season for James Rodriguez. He was largely overlooked by Rafael Benitez while Zinedine Zidane didn’t show enough confidence in him either. However, the Real Madrid superstar is a key player for Colombia. He won the Golden boot during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and will be looking to make a big impression again at international stages.