The Copa America is South America’s flagship tournament. This edition was originally scheduled for 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic forced CONMEBOL to delay the competition by 12 months.
The Copa America 2021 was supposed to be co-hosted by Colombia and Argentina, but the former relinquished its duties due to civil unrest in the country and the latter stepped back due to a surge of COVID-19 cases. Brazil will now host the Copa America for the second tournament in a row, with the opening game set for June 13 and the final booked in for July 10.
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|Copa America Winner 2021||Odds|
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Brazil, the holders, and the hosts are the favorites to win Copa America. They have won all four of their World Cup qualifiers to date, which suggests they are the strongest team in the region. Tite is an accomplished coach and Neymar is fit this time around, having missed out in 2019. Brazil leads the way in the sportsbooks for good reason.
Argentina are second-favorites, despite persistent doubts over the defense and head coach Lionel Scaloni. However, a team containing Lionel Messi – who is running out of time to win a senior competition with his country – can never be written off.
Colombia looks overpriced at +650. They no longer have hosting rights and have made a poor start to World Cup qualifying, including a 6-1 defeat by Ecuador in March. They will also be without star man James Rodriguez due to injury.
Uruguay are the best pick for those looking for a dark horse. Oscar Tabarez is a wily old fox, and Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have proven quality. The experienced strike duo will be supported by an emerging crop of talented youngsters, making Uruguay one to watch.
Brazil were the Copa America winners when the tournament was last held two years ago. They finished top of their group ahead of Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia, before advancing to the final courtesy of victories over Paraguay and Argentina.
Brazil beat Peru 3-1 in front of almost 70,000 fans at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. Peru had qualified for the knockout phase despite finishing third in the aforementioned group. They then beat Uruguay and Chile to reach the tournament showpiece.
Everton opened the scoring in the 15th minute of the final, but Paolo Guerrero drew Peru level from the penalty spot. Gabriel Jesus made it 2-1 to Brazil, before Richarlison put the game beyond the Peruvians with a third goal for the hosts in the 90th minute.
|Country and Number of Wins||Most Recent Triumph|
|Uruguay – 15||2011|
|Argentina – 14||1993|
|Brazil – 9||2019|
|Paraguay – 2||1979|
|Chile – 2||2016|
|Peru – 2||1975|
|Colombia – 1||2001|
|Bolivia – 1||1963|
Uruguay are the most successful team in the history of the Copa America. They were the dominant force in the early years of football on the continent, and duly triumphed in the inaugural edition of the competition in 1916. Their last success came when current manager Oscar Tabarez led his country to glory in 2011.
Argentina are second on the list with 14 triumphs, the most recent of which was in 1993. Given the players they have produced since then, it is frankly remarkable that the country of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero has not lifted silverware at senior level for almost 30 years.
Brazil are the reigning champions after winning the Copa America for the ninth time two years ago. The Selecao have been the most successful South American side in the 21st century, scooping the prize in 2004, 2007 and 2019.
Chile won back-to-back editions in 2015 and 2016 to join Paraguay and Peru on two trophies. Colombia and Bolivia have won one tournament apiece.
Throughout the tournament, Copa America games are one leg. Group stage games always finish within 90 minutes, but extra time is used to determine the winner of tied contests in the knockout phase.
Copa America games are broadcast live on TV in the United States by Fox Sports.
The Copa America final can end in a draw after 90 minutes. If the scores are level at that point, an additional period of 30 minutes – known as extra time – is played. If there is still nothing separating the teams, a penalty shoot-out decides the winner.
The Copa America has used numerous different formats throughout its history. In 2019, the 10 South American nations were joined by two guests from other confederations (Japan and Qatar), and the 12 teams were split into three groups.
This time around there will be no guests, with Australia and Qatar having pulled out. As such, the 10 South American teams have been divided into two groups of five. Four sides will advance from each group to the quarter-finals, which will be followed by semi-finals and the final.
In truth it is a rather convoluted format, with 20 matches required to eliminate just two teams in the group stage.
Brazil beat Peru in the Copa America 2019 final. Everton, Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison got on the scoresheet as the Selecao ran out 3-1 winners on home soil.
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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