Copa America Group B (North Zone) Preview

Introduction

After a grueling season of club football in each of the major football-playing nations of the world, we will now finally take a month-long break from it and shift our focus in watching the upcoming continental competitions. Football fanatics around the world are now certainly bracing up to watch South America’s biggest sporting spectacle. Yes, you guessed it right, we are talking about the prestigious Copa America tournament scheduled to start tomorrow. The South American Nation of Brazil is going to host the 47th edition of this elite competition. Earlier, Argentina and Colombia were slated to jointly stage the championship but they were later stripped of the hosting rights. Political instability in Colombia forced South American governing body CONMEBOL to remove it as the co-hosts. And a sudden spike in COVID cases made the organizers move the contest out of Argentina. 

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At last, Brazil was chosen as the possible destination of the tournament which was postponed way back in 2020. This time also Brazil is experiencing an unexpected surge in the COVID cases as well as uncountable deaths. The situation had thereby put a question mark whether the tournament could be staged or not. But a few days earlier, the apex court of Brazil unanimously gave a decision in support of the tournament despite strong criticisms from players, coaches, public people, and doctors warning them of the alarming situation of the COVID there. Still, they gave the green light to host the contest in Brazil. So fans all around the world are now waiting eagerly to see their favorite superstars in Copa. This time ten teams will fight it out to earn the epithet of the kings of South America.

Holders Brazil will once again look to win the championship on home soil. Anyway, the matches will be held behind closed doors this time and so no support from the fans is expected. We hope that the tournament may end well without anyone being infected with this deadly virus.

Teams

The top 10 teams have been divided into two groups as follows:-

GROUP A :- Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia.

GROUP B:- Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador.

Between these two groups, we are now taking a look at the heavyweight group B which boasts of nine-time champions Brazil, previous edition’s runner’s up to Peru, one of South America’s powerhouse Colombia, giant killers Venezuela and the tiny nation of Ecuador. We at BTM provide you with the complete analysis of the group as well as of each team. 

TEAMS INVOLVED IN GROUP B

Brazil

The Sambas are the defending champions of the Copa and enter the competition as one of the favorites. Nonetheless, they are definitely the team to be feared for across the competition. They have an excellent blend of youth and experience in the squad which helps them to gain the edge over others. Their coach Tite is also vastly experienced and he knows how to win major tournaments like Copa America. He has previously led Brazil in winning the Copa in the previous edition where they defeated the likes of Argentina.

Moreover, his squad has great depth which enables him to choose his starting XI from a wide range of players. He has quality players in all departments and boasts excellent backup options to replace the first team players if needed. They have also been placed in a relatively easier group comparing with their ranks. All the teams in Group B are quite tricky though and can upset oppositions on their day.

Nevertheless, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela can be tough nuts to crack for them. They have performed the perfect dress rehearsal for the Copa’s brushing aside Paraguay and Ecuador quite comfortably. Most importantly, they have kept clean sheets on both occasions and their defense has looked quite compact. Midfield also was nothing short of creativity because of the presence of Casemiro, Paqueta, Fabinho, and Fred. It remains whether they can live up to their expectations and perform well on their home soil in the Copa’s.

Copa America - North zone

Players to Watch out for

Neymar Jr .

When you have a superstar like Neymar in your team, it is quite usual that you can dream of being the champions. The Paris Saint Germain talisman had been in excellent form at the club level showing impressive performances in UCL knockouts. He provides excellent creativity to the forward line as well as scoring goals himself. In the recently concluded season, he has scored a whopping 17 goals and 7 assists from only 26 stars. He would hope to continue his red hot form at the international level also and get success in Brazil colors.

Eder Militao

The Madrid man has been in exceptional form this season for the Los Blancos and was one of the standout performers for them in the latter half of the season. He has turned out to be the indispensable man for both Madrid and Brazil in defense. Militao and Marquinhos have truly formed a deadly partnership at the heart of the Brazil defense. He is good in aerial duels, can do great tackles as well as in building attacks when it matters the most. He will be instrumental for the brazil defense throughout the tournament and would play a vital role in it.

Carlos Casemiro

Casemiro is another Los Blancos player who is a vital cog in the brazil squad. For Real, he is just a pillar in the midfield for them. The same applies in the case of Brazil where he performs the work of a midfield general. Without him, the brazil midfield is completely unimaginable. He can control the midfield totally as well as providing stability in both offense and defense. If you have a Casemiro in your squad, you don’t need any other player for midfield and defense. The Brazilian captain will again be eager to dish out some solid performances for the national side up to his level best.

Colombia

The Los Cafetores are South America’s another powerhouse of football. They have shown some impressive performances over the years in International football and can be unstoppable on their day certainly. Frankly speaking, this Colombia side has the might to play the semifinals and even finals of the Copa. They also have a great coach in the form of Reinaldo Rueda who knows how to bring out the best from his team. They have recently been in good form under him in the World Cup qualifiers and would look to carry on this momentum. Colombia knows that if they can play up to their potential, they will be guaranteed a place in the knockouts.

Colombia has a good bunch of players in the fray who played competitive tournaments for different clubs all around. But this golden generation of Colombian players is yet to win any silverware with the national team. They know they have to carry loads of expectations from their countrymen going into such a big tournament. Colombia has such depth this year in the squad that the absence of James Rodriguez doesn’t seem so much devastating for them whose attack boasts of the likes of Duvan Zapata, Luis Muriel, and Juan Cuadrado. If the new coach can find the right balance in the team and get the best out of his players, Colombia will definitely stand a chance to win the tournament.

Copa America - North zone

Players To Watch Out For

Luis Muriel

The Atalanta man was in scintillating form for the Italian giants in this edition of the Serie A. He enters the tournament as the most threatening striker among all the teams. He has serious goal-scoring ability coupled with excellent creativity in the final third. Muriel had a total of 26 goals and 12 assists for the Blue and Blacks this season. He is a fox in the box and will be a nightmare for the defenders. If Colombia is to fair-good in the Copa, Muriel has to fire on all fronts for them.

Juan Cuadrado

The Juventus right-back was probably the best right-back in Europe this year going by the stats. He had a mind-blowing 2 goals and 17 assists, the highest among all those in his position. Going into the tournament, he carries high hopes from his countrymen to come good for the La Cafetores. He has deadly attacking skills aka great crossing abilities which is one of the valuable assets for his team. If Colombia is to perform well in this championship, Cuadrado has to be on the top of his form.

Venezuela

The La Vinotintos is one of the most competitive teams in the Copa arena and has proved it quite a number of times in the past in big tournaments. They also have a great squad who might not boast of any star face familiar to fans around the world. But they do have a hard-working and resilient team who has all the capabilities to upset any big side. Jose Peseiro, the current manager of the team does know well how to utilize the limited resources in his team. He prefers to play in an attacking formation and that might help the team against quality opponents.

They had a recent COVID outbreak among the team members and that might have affected the team’s performance. Losing any potential starter would really test the depth of the team. Starman Salomon Rondon is ruled out of the Copa’s owing to an injury. It remains to be seen whether the team can recover from the obstacles and come out with a good performance. They can easily pass through to the quarterfinals and if good, can progress further also.   

        

Copa America - North zone

Peru

The La Blanquirroja are the dark horses playing in this tournament and will look to shrug off their epithet of underdogs with their quality display of football against tough opponents. They took everyone by surprise when they played the finals of the previous edition of the tournament. The Peruvians eventually lost to the Sambas, but their entertaining and charming football amazed all. In contrast to the previous year, they have the two most important men missing out on this year’s championship. Starman Paulo Guerrero will be dearly missed along with another dependable man Jefferson Farfan. The young guns need to truly come out on all aspects to give Peru another dream run like last year. It needs a great team effort from each and everyone to take Peru all the way through to the knockouts.

Their coach Ricardo Gareca is managing the team for a long time and knows how to get the most out of this team having limited resources in hand. He would like to have another chance of winning or at least progressing till the very end of the Copa. Peru has performed impressively in the previous four big tournaments finishing at least in the top four in the three. Undoubtedly, they would play with nothing to lose and so stand an outside chance of playing the quarters or semis.

Ecuador

Ecuador is the lowest-ranked team in this group B and has very little hope of qualifying into the quarters. They know that themselves but don’t want to get demotivated by this. They just want to play some quality football and entertain the fans as well as keeping an eye on the qualifying berth. Ecuador is definitely a team in transition with a lot of young players in the squad playing good football.

Head coach Gustavo Alfaro knows that many would expect him to make the knockouts after missing out in 2019. The new energy injected into the team because of the bunch of young players playing in the squad gives them the chance to challenge their opponents. They will have a few veteran players in the squad including star forward Enner Valencia. It will be indeed a matter of great excitement if La Tricolour manages to qualify through to the knockouts from group B.

Conclusion

In all respects, the 47th edition of Copa America is up for fierce encounters between the teams participating. We would see demolitions, upsets, giant killings as well as some excellent display of football from the teams. Football fans are waiting to see these kinds of enthralling matches occur in the off-season of club football. Euros on one side, while Copa on the other side of the world. What can a fan expect more from international football!! Copa America is getting kicked off today with the match between Brazil and Venezuela in the Brazilian Capital.   

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