With the 2015 Copa America set to go underway on June 11th with the match between Chile and Ecuador at Estadio Nacional, all eyes of the world will on focus on Chile as the biggest tournament in the CONMEBOL region will get underway. Players like Alexis Sanchez, Neymar, Radamel Falcao and Lionel Messi will all feature with their respective national teams in what's expected to be a spectacular tournament.
Even though Chile will be in Group A and Argentina will feature in Group B, one of the toughest groups in the tournament will be Group C that will feature two contending teams in Brazil and Colombia against two ascending squads like Peru and Venezuela.
Brazil appers to be the top team in the zone and they are one of the favourites to win the title. They've been in a bit of a dry-spell since they haven't won the Copa America since 2007 and they will look to erase from the collective memory their awful performance in the 2014 World Cup where they lost 1-7 to Germany and 0-3 to Netherlands as they finished in fourth place. New manager Dunga has been impressive in his new stint with the National Team and he has won all games he has conducted while also trying to inject some new blood to the team.
Players like David Luiz and Thiago Silva are still on the squad but there are several newcomers looking to become the next wave of stars for La Canarinha. With Neymar leading up-front, the FC Barcelona star will play alongside the likes of Diego Tardelli, Roberto Firmino, Filipe Luis and Willian as the team will look to dominate the tournament from start to finish.
Expected Starting XI: Jefferson; Fabinho, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Filipe Luis; Fernandinho, Casemiro; Willian; Coutinho, Diego Tardelli, Neymar
Colombia was one of the surprises of the 2014 World Cup and they reached the quarterfinals until they lost to Brazil so they will have a golden chance to take revenge in this game. Manager Jose Pekerman has put together an impressive collection of talent on both ends of the pitch and even though Mario Yepes isn't with the team anymore, there are several players capable of filling the void left by the captain.
Colombia has one of the best attacking lines in the tournament and they can score goals with the best of them. Even though Radamel Falcao had a poor season with Manchester United, he continues to be the most dangerous attacker on the squad and James Rodriguez had an impressive season with Real Madrid so he will look to build on his success. In addition to that, players like Jackson Martinez, Carlos Bacca and Teofilo Gutierrez all had very good seasons at the club level and they will be hard to stop if all things click.
The team is quite talented and they have enough power to reach the latter stages of the competition, although they are quite hampered by injuries. Midfielders Fredy Guarin, Juan Fernando Quintero and Abel Aguilar will all miss the tournament due to injuries so it remains to be seen how Pekerman will lineup the center of the pitch.
Expected Starting XI: Ospina; Zuñiga, Zapata, Murillo, Armero; Sanchez, Valencia; James; Cuadrado, Falcao, Bacca
Venezuela is one of the teams that have ascended the most in the last 15 years and team's captain Juan Arango highlighted how much the team has grown over that span. Under the management of Noel Sanvicente, the team will look to assemble the pieces that are needed to defend the fourth place the team had in the last Copa America four years ago and they will also look towards qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in their history.
Venezuela will have a tough road ahead of themselves as Colombia and Brazil are two teams that are clearly better than them so their chances to make it into the next round appear to be to make it as one of the best 3rd-placed teams. They have some impressive players though - Salomon Rondon headlines the attack, Juan Arango continues to dominate the midfield zone and players like Roberto Rosales and Oswaldo Vizcarrondo continue to gain experience on Europe.
Expected Starting XI: Dani Hernandez; Rosales, Vizcarrondo, Perozo, Amorebieta; Rincon, Lucena; Arango; Martinez, S. Rondon, C. Gonzalez
Peru is the least heralded of the four teams in the Group C but that doesn't mean they're the less talented. With an attacking group that includes the likes of Juan Manuel Vargas, Andre Carrillo, Paolo Guerrero and Jefferson Farfan - who's returning to the team after a two-year absence - Peru has no problems to match up with the best of them when it comes to offensive power. Their problem, hovewer, relies on the defensive end as they don't have a lot of experience - or quality - on the back line.
They will have plenty of problems against the likes of Brazil and Colombia and two losses there aren't completely out of the question. Their game - Venezuela will likely be a close one and it seems Peru's better chance to reach the quarterfinals will be to qualify as one of the best third-placed teams. Either way, Ricardo Gareca's focus is on the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers so Peru might be more interested in testing players rather than in the actual results in Chilean soil.
Expected Starting XI: Gallese; Advincula, Zambrano, Ascues, Yotun; Ballon, Lobaton; Carrillo, Farfan, Vargas; Guerrero
June 14th, 4.00 PM - Colombia - Venezuela (El Teniente Stadium, Rancagua)
June 14th, 6.30 PM - Brazil - Peru (German Becker Stadium, Temuco)
June 17th, 9.00 PM - Brazil - Colombia (Monumental Stadium, Santiago)
June 18th, 8.30 PM - Peru - Venezuela (Elias Figueroa Stadium, Valparaiso)
June 21st, 4.00 PM - Colombia - Peru (German Becker Stadium, Temuco)
June 21st, 6.30 PM - Brazil - Venezuela (Monumental Stadium, Santiago)