This Friday, CONMEBOL’s biggest international tournament will begin on Brazilian soil when the match between Brazil and Bolivia kicks off the 2019 Copa America. Chile will try to defend their back-to-back titles won in 2015 and 2016, but a plethora of teams will aim to stop La Roja’s out-of-nowhere winning run earlier this decade.
This time, we’ll take a deeper look at Group B. It features Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar.
La Albiceleste are one of toughest teams to analyse ahead of the 2019 Copa America. On one hand, they boast an impressive amount of quality on the attacking thanks to Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez. But what happens with the other areas of the pitch? Runners-up in the past two editions of the tournament, Argentina seem to have several question marks both on defence and midfield.
That said, Lionel Scaloni’s men shouldn’t encounter many issues to reach the quarterfinals rather easily. Colombia will be their tougher opponent and their most likely opponent for the top spot, but Argentina should be able to get past Paraguay and Qatar with little-to-no-complications. How far they can go will depend on their opponents. However, they should be able to go quite deep into the knockout stages.
Probable Starting XI: Franco Armani; Renzo Saravia, Nicolas Otamendi, German Pezzella, Nicolas Tagliafico; Guido Rodriguez, Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso; Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, Angel Di Maria
Los Cafeteros are probably the biggest darkhorses entering the 2019 Copa America. Some pundits they have found the right mixture of talent, youth and experience to complicate any side on the tournament; however, others believe their best moment is already a thing of the past and that they should begin the rebuilding process other South American sides are currently going through.
Either way, Colombia should at the very least get past the group stage considering they look quite superior to both Paraguay and Qatar. Having experienced names such as James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and David Ospina – just to name a few – should definitively play in their favour, and Carlos Queiroz is a manager who knows how to thrive under pressure. They’re certainly a team to keep an eye on as the tournament progresses – on paper they are not weaker than any squad.
Probable Starting XI: David Ospina; Santiago Arias, Yerry Mina, Davinson Sanchez, William Tesillo; Mateus Uribe, Jefferson Lerma; Juan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez; Duvan Zapata, Radamel Falcao
The word “rebuilding” will be constantly repeated in several team previews, because there are more than a few national sides trying to bounce back from poor qualifying campaigns while dancing between featuring experienced players and giving space to new players. Paraguay have been in this process since the 2010 South Africa World Cup. And honestly, it seems they’re miles away from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Under the tutelage of Eduardo Berizzo, Los Guaranies have struggled to make too many changes to previous squads due to a simple reason – Paraguay do not have nearly enough players as they had roughly 10 years ago. Veterans Oscar Cardozo, Antony Silva and Celso Ortiz flank a side that also features younger elements worth watching such as Miguel Almiron, Cecilio Dominguez and Derlis Gonzalez. Still, Paraguay fans shouldn’t be very motivated entering this tournament. Their best bet seems to be to win against Qatar and see what happens afterwards. Will that be enough to win a knockout spot as one of the two best-third-placed teams?
Expected Starting XI: Junior Fernandez; Gustavo Gomez, Fabian Balbuena, Bruno Valdez, Junior Alonso; Juan Rodrigo Rojas, Matias Rojas; Derlis Gonzalez, Miguel Almiron, Cecilio Dominguez; Federico Santander
Last but not least, we have Qatar. The 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts have been invited to the tournament, which was a nice gesture from CONMEBOL officials. But they don’t have much to play for entering this tie. Their form looks solid, though, as they’re coming off their first-ever Asian Cup title. But let’s be realistic. It’s one thing to play against sides in the AFC region, and an entirely different one is to play against CONMEBOL-nased sides.
Qatar’s biggest chance to pull the upset and reach the knockout stages would be the following path; they would have to defeat Paraguay and lose by small margins against both Colombia and Argentina – although gaining other result would obviously work in their favour. One important thing to note is Qatar’s continuity. All 14 players to see action in the Asian Cup final match against Japan will also feature in this tournament.
Expected Starting XI: Saad Al Sheeb; Ró-Ró, Bassam Al-Rawi, Boualem Khoukhi, Tarek Salman, Abdelkarim Hassan; Hassan Al-Haydos, Adbulaziz Hatem, Assim Madibo; Akram Afif, Almoez Ali