Copa America Group C by DamirJ
The tournament will be 45th edition of Copa America since it's inception in 1916. This time, it will be held as part of an agreement between CONMEBOL and CONCACAF as a special edition between the usual four-year cycle and will feature an expanded field of sixteen teams, with all ten teams from CONMEBOL and six teams from CONCACAF. In the group C, we will see Mexico and Uruguay playing together with Venezuela and Jamaica where the first two mentioned side will be having huge quality advantage over the other two sides.
Uruguay is one of the most traditional sides in South America, as the national has won the title of the best South American side for fifteen times (1916, 1917, 1923.1924, 1926, 1935, 1942, 1956, 1959, 1967, 1983, 1987, 1995, 2011), also participating in six more finals. Semi-final stage somehow comes for them without great difficulty, but the team failed to qualify for the quarter-finals after losing to further winners from Chile.
Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Campana (Independiente), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama)
Defenders: Jorge Fucile (Nacional), Jose Gimenez (Atletico Madrid), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Maximiliano Pereira (Porto), Gaston Silva (Torino), Mauricio Victorino (Nacional)
Midfielders: Egidio Arevalo Rios (Atlas), Matias Corujo (Universidad de Chile), Alvaro Gonzalez (Atlas), Alvaro Pereira (Getafe), Gaston Ramirez (Middlesbrough), Cristian Rodriguez (Independiente), Carlos Sanchez (Monterrey), Matias Vecino (Fiorentina)
Forwards: Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-German), Abel Hernandez (Hull City), Nicolas Lodeiro (Boca Juniors), Diego Rolan (Bordeaux), Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough), Luis Suarez (Barcelona).
Copa America will start with a problem for Uruguay, as the team will be missing Luis Suarez in the first match of the group, however the team is anyway expected to have an easy path in the group stage, so it shouldn't be much of a problem. One way or another, if the team manages to progress the group stage, there's no doubt that one of their biggest stars will be fully fit and ready to lead the national team.
Suarez and Cavani should lead them in attack later on, while Cavani seems sure for the first round, either accompanied with Abel Hernandez or Cristhian Stuani, even though their other option, Diego Rolan from Bordeaux didn't look that bad this season.
Uruguay will surely be playing either 4-5-1, either 4-4-2 in some games, as it's the favorite formation of their national team coach Oscar Tabarez. Egidio Arevalo Rios will be the connection between offensive and central defenders, standing sure as defensive midfielder.
Their defensive lineup remains almost the same for years, as the coach relies on the experiences of the selected players. There are very quality players such as Jose Maria Gimenez and Diego Godin who had great season with Atletico Madrid, but also Maxi Perreira from Porto, Alvaro Pereira from Getafe, including two players from domestic league - both from Nacional - Jorge Fucile and Mauricio Victorino.
Manager Oscar Tabarez:
Oscar Tabarez will be turning 70 years next year and is leading the national team in last ten years. Despite some nice success under him, the team failed in previous Copa America edition and is now seeking his own personal revenge for it. He usually prefers to start in 4-5-1 formation with Cavani or Stuani as alone striker and is usually transforming that formation into 4-4-2 during the match. His experience could play a key role in their path this time.
There are some problems in their team when speaking about creative game and making chances, which Tabarez needs to solve as quickly as possible. However, the group seems to be quite easy for them and is passable and I believe that not only they will pass it with ease, but can also do some testing during these three matches.
Odds of around 1.20 to qualify from the group are more than fair and could be used in some options as a banker. However, maybe most likely scenario would be exclusion in the quarter-finals since the group crossed with the teams alike Argentina and Chile with odds being around 2.50. Suarez will be missing the first match for sure and the top goalscorer of national team Cavani priced at odds around 3.00 might be correct choice. Cavani h2h bet vs Hulk from Brazil priced at 1.75 also might be interesting.
Although they aren't part of Latin America, this national is permanently invited for the tournament since 1993. They are having decent course so far, being able to progress the group stage seven out of nine times. They have also reached two finals stage, both times losing it. Last year they didn't manage to progress the group.
Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Malaga), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
Defenders: Paul Aguilar (Club America), Nestor Araujo (Santos Laguna), Yasser Corona (Queretaro), Hector Moreno (PSV), Miguel Layun (Porto), Rafael Marquez (Atlas), Jesus Molina (Santos Laguna), Diego Reyes (Real Sociedad), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres UANL)
Midfielders: Jesus Duenas (Tigres UANL), Andres Guardado (PSV), Hector Herrera (Porto), Carlos Pena (Guadalajara)
Forwards: Javier Aquino (Tigres UANL), Jesus Corona (Porto), Jurgen Damm (Tigres UANL), Javier Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Hirving Lozano (Pachuca), Oribe Peralta (Club America).
Mexico will have important advantage over other sides in the group, since they will almost be playing at home. They are expected to have enough people in every game on their side, as all of their three group matches will be played south in US, close to Mexican border.
Juan Carlos Osorio has been a national team manager of Mexico for several months and it's still not sure which system and formation is he going to use. He was trying with three central defenders in some matches, but also classic 4-3-3 formation in other games. I expect that they'll try to use both, depending on each game.
There is enough experience in their team, particularly in the midfield and defensive lineup, as the team has really more options there, surely making a backbone of the team. Players such as Aguilar, Moreno, Layun or Rafael Marquez inspire with confidence and surely will be up to the task this time. Attacker Javier Hernandez comes from a great season and I expect him to have a good tournament, but he surely isn't alone when we talk about offensive and creative part of the team.
Manager Juan Carlos Osorio:
Colombian technician took over the national team of Mexico last October and since then, the team has only victories in official and friendly matches, having seven out of seven. This is his first job as a national team coach, as he made a very good name in Latin America, mostly doing great work in his own country. His usual formations are with three central defenders (3-5-2 and 3-1-3-3), or more classic 4-3-3. The team had no injury worries before the tournament, so it's expected that he can switch the formations without a problem, whenever he wants to adapt something new, depending from game to game.
Mexico has a pretty decent team and I believe they will progress the group without any problem, however whether it will be as a first or second placed side - it depends much on their premiere against Uruguay. Their problems comes with the fact that they will be probably playing either against Argentina either Chile in the quarter-finals, so they will need to show us whether they can go extra mile this time. One way or another, there's no doubt that they should be highly competitive this time.
Having in mind their first game is against Uruguay and that the opponent misses best player and also has creative problems, Mexico to win the group might be the best possible choice.
Venezuela is a team that is traditionally one of the weakest links in the competition and usually doesn't find a way to qualify from the group. Biggest success they achieved was semi-finals reached back in 2011, but it's likely that the team will manage to repeat it soon. Last year they stayed in the last position of their group.
Goalkeepers: Jose Contreras (Tachira), Wuilker Farinez (Caracas), Dani Hernandez (Tenerife)
Defenders: Wilker Angel (Tachira), Rolf Feltscher (MSV Duisburg), Alexander Gonzalez (Huesca), Roberto Rosales (Malaga), Jose Manuel Velazquez (Arouca), Mikel Villanueva (Atletico Malagueno), Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (Nantes)
Midfielders: Juan Pablo Anor (Malaga), Arquimedes Figuera (La Guaira), Alejandro Guerra (Atletico Nacional), Yangel Herrera (Atletico Venezuela), Romulo Otero (Huachipato), Adalberto Penaranda (Granada), Tomas Rincon (Genoa), Luis Manuel Seijas (Santa Fe), Carlos Suarez (Carabobo)
Forwards: Yonathan Del Valle (Kasimpasa), Josef Martinez (Torino), Salomon Rondon (West Bromwich Albion), Christian Santos (NEC Nijmegen).
Venezuela seems to be in a very poor condition, after ex national team manager Sanvicente completely lost the pule of the team. Some quality exists and there's no doubt that the team worth more than what they are showing, but the team's overall image isn't positive one right now.
Players like Tomas Rincon from Malaga, Luis Manuel Seijas from Santa Fe and Salomon Rondon from West Bromwich Albion surely have quality do show something more, but they will need to work as a team in order to achieve something. Consistency has been a great problem for the whole national team and even if they put up one decent performance, it's hard to see them doing it in consecutive matches.
Manager Rafael Dudamel:
Rafael Dudamel was a well known goalkeeper before he took the role of coach and had some decent success with several young teams in the Federation before he was installed as a national team coach. He did well with their under 20 team, however we can't judge him a lot for now, since he had minimum time with the team for now. He seems to prefer 4-3-1-2 formation so far, while it's hard to expect some special things from him in the near future.
Venezuela isn't looking specially positive for now and what's more worrying their team and game plan look very questionable at the moment. Hard job is now in front of coach Dudamel and I doubt he will be able to answer the task with so little time on his favor. Odds of around 2.50 for Venezuela to finish at the bottom of the group might be an option as their future looks really mediocre.
Jamaica had only their first appearance in the tournament last year, so it was logically accompanied with the last position in the group and three defeats. Still, all three defeats were a narrow ones with a 1:0 result and the team didn't look particularly poor. On the other side, the team had decent runs in Caribbean Cup, as they managed to win the title six times, back in 1991, 1998, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014.
Goalkeepers: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Duwayne Kerr (Stjarnan), Ryan Thompson (Saint Louis FC)
Defenders: Rosario Harriott (Harbour View), Michael Hector (Reading), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls), Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace), Wes Morgan (Leicester City), Damano Solomon (Portmore United), Jermaine Taylor (Portland Timbers)
Midfielders: Rodolph Austin (Brondby), Michael Binns (Portmore United), Chevonne Marsh (Cavalier), Joel McAnuff (Leyton Orient), Garath McCleary (Reading), Andrew Vanzie (Humble Lions), Je-Vaughn Watson (New England Revolution), Lee Williamson (Blackburn Rovers)
Forwards: Barnes Giles (Houston Dynamo), Simon Dawkins (San Jose Earthquakes), Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham City), Dever Orgill (Marieham), Allan Ottey (Montego Bay United).
Their national team relies mainly on players who are playing in England and MLS, which means that once again Jaimajca has no real star in their team, but the team still stands out as a serious one and can give a decent fight to any other side in the group.
They usually tend to play a bit more defensive, leaving the ball to their opponent and trying to use the defense and the speed as their strong points, trying mostly via counterattacks to attack and make the damage.
Their defensive lineup consists of three rather decent players from England, Wes Morgan (from Leicester), Adrian Mariappa (from Crystal Palace) and Michael Hector (from Reading) so there's no doubt that the team has serious quality at the back. Team leader and midfielder Rodolph Austin is however probably only reliable midfield and surely will be the part of creative side of the game.
Forwards Giles Barnes from Houston, Clayton Donaldson from Birmingham and Garath McCleary from Reading surely do have enough speed and can be dangerous, easily finding a goal via proper counter attacks.
Manager Winfried Schafer:
Experienced German coach already had some decent runs with national teams, particularly with Cameroon in early 2000s. However, for last ten years he is without big success, leading national team of Jamaica in last three years, showing some improvement during his spell. Mainly he uses 4-4-2 formation, with an emphasis on the defensive mode however.
Jamaica should continue to play quite defensive football this tournament as well, trying to make some threatening situations using counter attacks mostly. The team almost surely won't progress the group this time, however they can easily give a good match to any opponent. First game in the group against Venezuela will probably determine the fact whether they will finish third or fourth.