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2019 Copa América Preview – (First Round, Match-Day 1)

The 46th edition of the Copa América kick offs with all participating teams motivated for their opening group match. The first game is important for every team as it usually sets the tone for the rest of the tournament. Qualification to the knockout phase is the first objective of all participating teams especially the favorites who are expected to go further in the competition.

Here is our preview of all Match Day 1 fixtures across the three groups.

Group A;

BRAZIL v BOLIVIA – SAT. 15 JUNE 2019, 01.30HRS
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Host Brazil kick off their Copa América campaign against Bolivia in front of an expectant crowd at Estádio do Morumbi in São Paulo. Tite’s team will be without star player Neymar who is ruled out of the competition due to injury but the Seleção isn’t a one-man team. In Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison and Roberto Firmino, the Canarinho have enough quality secure all three points. Bolivia come into this match on a poor run of form with no victory in their last seven international games. Eduardo Vilegas is likely to set his team in a defensive structure to avoid a heavy defeat on the opening night.

VERDICT – These two teams shared the spoils the last time they met in La Paz in 2017. However Brazil won the previous two meetings scoring nine goals without conceding. Bolivia have been handed the worst possible start to their Copa América campaign. Brazil should win this comfortably. Scores: 3-0 Brazil; prediction: over 2.5goals

VENEZUELA v PERU – SAT. 15 JUNE 2019, 20.00HRS
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Both teams produced fine performance at the 2016 Copa América Centenario and will aim to continue in similar vein in this tournament. Venezuela will be eager to give their fans at home something to cheer when they take on Peru in Porto Alegre. Peru were at the last FIFA World Cup but their recent form isn’t anything close to a World Cup team; they have lost 4 of their last 6 matches, conceding 10 goals but the defeat to El Salvador was embarrassing for Ricardo Gareca and his team. He needs defensive improvement if they are to stand a chance of making the last eight again.

VERDICT – In 16 matches; the head-to-head record has been pretty even. Venezuela with six wins compared to Peru’s seven with three draws in between. Venezuela might have the better team but Peru are capable of grabbing something from this game. A close encounter is anticipated in Arena do Grêmio.

Group B;

ARGENTINA v COLOMBIA – SAT. 15 JUNE 2019, 23.00HRS
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This is definitely the standout game of Match Day 1 in the 2019 Copa América. There cannot be a better game for Carlos Queiroz as he takes his international tournament bow as Colombia boss. The Itaipava Arena in Salvador will come alive when one of the favorites – Argentina takes on another contender Colombia. Argentina’s final preparatory game was a convincing 5-1 victory over Nicaragua with Leo Messi grabbing a brace. Colombia will aim to build on back-to-back wins over Peru and Panama when the tournament kicks off proper but would be aware that Argentina is a different kettle of fish compared to their last two opponents.

VERDICT – Argentina are superior in the head-to-head meetings; 9W compared to one solitary victory for Colombia in the last 15 meetings. However, the past results might not have much bearing on current form. Queiroz will deploy a tactical approach to frustrate Argentina and Messi. It is pretty obvious that when La Albiceleste skipper doesn’t perform, the team struggles. Under 2.5 goals.

PARAGUAY v QATAR – SUN. 16 JUNE 2019, 20.00HRS
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The Asian champions will be participating in their first Copa América and will look to prove their worth at this prestigious tournament. The Asian side will use this competition to continue their preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup on home soil but they will be seen as underdogs in Group B. However, the game against Eduardo Berizzo’s Paraguay is a winnable game for Al-Annabi because the Argentine manager has barely had sufficient time to settle into his new job and his squad is filled with average players. Paraguay put an end to a poor run of results in their last preparatory game against with a 2-0 victory over Guatemala but they might not impress Los Guaraníes fans back at home

VERDICT – Paraguay produced a fine display against Guatemala and will look to build on that display at Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro against Qatar but the Asian champions look a more balanced and settled team who will give any team a run for their money. When the two teams met in a friendly in 2009, Qatar recorded a 2-0 win over Paraguay. The South American side will be gunning for revenge but it’s not likely they would pull it off. Expect both teams to get on the score sheet.

Group C;

URUGUAY v ECUADOR – SUN. 16 JUNE 2019, 23.00HRS
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2011 Copa América champions – Uruguay take on Ecuador in their opening group game. Óscar Tabárez’s team is on a three-game winning run ahead of their opener and they are likely to stick to their attacking style of play against Los Amarillos. Same cannot be said of Hernán Darío Gómez’s team who are yet to record a victory in this calendar year. The deadly duo Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez should lead the attack for Uruguay at Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte as they search for all three points in this game.

VERDICT – Interestingly, Ecuador have won two of their last three meetings against Uruguay and would hope to draw inspiration from these results however, La Celeste triumphed in the last game and they are favorites here to win this game. Uruguay to win either halves of the game.

JAPAN v CHILE – TUE. 18 JUNE 2019, 00.00HRS
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Back-to-back Copa América champions will aim to open their title defense on a winning note against invited guests – Japan. This is the Samurai Blue second Copa América finals, they failed to impress at the 1999 tournament where they managed a single draw and two defeats in the competition. The Asian team head into their first group game following a routine 2-0 win over El Salvador and are eyeing their fourth consecutive clean sheet. On the other side, the Chilean team coming to this competition still has the core of the successive group of 2015 and 2016 though some of these players are older with some also struggling to produce their best form.

VERDICT – Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal made the Chile squad for this tournament and would be expect to produce the goods for La Roja. The pressure is on Reinaldo Rueda; can he lead them to a third successive title? Japan are unbeaten in two meetings against Chile including 4-0 win at the 2009 Kirin Cup. There should be goals in both halves.

It is a wrap on our previews for Match-Day 1 across the three Groups at the 2019 Copa América. Keep playing, keep winning…. Predict and win big by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers in the 2019 Copa América tournament.

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