Sunday, June 05, 2016

Copa America Centenario

The extraordinary Copa America (recall one was celebrated in Chile last year) celebrating the 100 anniversary of the oldest national team tournament in the world started this weekend in USA.
This tournament is the first held outside South America, and I guess it is truly American, in the sense it includes the 10 teams from South America, and adds the six best teams from the North American and Caribbean region.
That said, it is a strange tournament in the sense it comes between years, in the middle of World Cup qualifications, and previous to an Olympic tournament that Brazil has decided to prioritize (that is why Neymar will be playing the Olympics and not the Copa America). It seems the tournament is more aimed at spreading the interest of football to the North American and Caribbean, and capitalize on an expanding market.
The priority seems to be money rather than football...

The 4 groups are as follows:

Groups A:
  • Costa Rica
  • Paraguay
  • Colombia
  • USA
Group B:
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • Haiti
  • Peru
Group C:
  • Mexico
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Jamaica
Group D:
  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Paraguay
  • Bolivia
As is becoming more and more often the case with these national tournaments (including the Euro 2016), the expansion of teams does not augur for better football, but rather more mediocre first round matches. The first four matches of the tournament seems to confirm this: while Colombia started out with an important 0-2 victory against the US hosts, there have been two boring 0-0 matches with Paraguay-Costa Rica and Ecuador-Brazil, and a meager 1-0 victory of Peru over Haiti.
The most interesting match in the first round will undoubtedly be Argentina-Chile on Tuesday. This will be a repeat of the 2015 Copa America final, and both teams are going to the tournament with their strongest teams, and are thus two of the favourites to go all the way.

While it is hard to get fully excited about this tournament, it will probably have some very interesting matches to watch.

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