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Copa America 2019 Preview: No Neymar, no problem for Brazil

The Copa America 2019 kicks off on Friday in Brazil. The hosts will take on Bolivia in the first match of the tournament as Brazil head into the Copa America as leading sportsbooks’ favourite to lift the cup on home soil.

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Tite’s side will have 11 other nations gunning for them during June and July. Can Brazil win their sixth Copa America trophy or will another nation pip them to the silverware?

Group A – Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela

Group A sees Brazil as the favourite to go through to the knockout round. The top two third-place teams will also make it into the knockout stage and on paper, Group A could see three sides make the next round.

Brazil will be without Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar. Despite having a wealth of personal issues going against him right now, it is an ankle injury that will keep him out of the tournament.

Neymar suffered an ankle injury against Qatar in a friendly last week and will miss the cup competition. It could turn out to be positive for Brazil as Tite’s team can avoid the drama brought on by the former Barcelona player. It could also lead Brazil to play as a team and not rely on Neymar to score and create goals.

Venezuela is one of the fastest rising nations in world football. They are now up to 29th in the world according to FIFA and have some exciting players in the team. Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez is one to watch. He has scored 13 goals in 19 games in all competitions for the Major League Soccer club.

Teams to progress: Brazil, Peru, Venezuela

Group B: Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, Qatar

Argentina are under the microscope in Brazil. The Argentines have finished runners up in four of the last five Copa America tournaments. It is a trophy that has continually eluded Lionel Messi and perhaps a reason some will claim he isn’t the best in the world.

Colombia will be a tough foe in Group B, but their head to head record against Argentina is poor. The two nations will clash in their first match with a number of world-class players locking horns.

Paraguay and Qatar make up the other two teams in the group. Qatar will fancy their chances of finishing third after going undefeated in Asian Football Confederation earlier this year. It cannot be denied that their squad made up of domestic players is lacking in quality.

The Paraguayans will compete with Qatar for third place and a possible chance of going through to the next round. Like Qatar, Paraguay do not have the talent other sides at the Copa America possess.

Teams to progress: Argentina, Colombia

Group C – Uruguay, Ecuador, Japan, Chile

Uruguay are being tipped by many to win the Copa America. They are third favourites according to leading sportsbooks behind Brazil and Argentina.

Manager Oscar Tabarez has rebuilt the side over the last three years and it showed at last summer’s World Cup. Uruguay finished fifth in Russia. Of course, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez will lead the line while captain Diego Godin will marshall the defence.

Ecuador won’t be pushovers although they don’t have the talent of Uruguay. They will fight for third place and possible progression with Japan. The Blue Samurai had a very good World Cup but now the big question is can they continue their strong play?

Chile are a bit of an enigma. They have won back to back Copa America tournaments but players are out of form and ageing. Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, and Eduardo Vargas, three heroes from 2016, are past their primes. Still, Chile are good enough to get through the group stage.

Teams to progress: Uruguay, Chile, Japan