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Copa America 2015: What To Expect, The History and The Four Favorites

South America’s most important and illustrious football tournament kicks off today. The Copa America 2015, live from Chile.

Interestingly, most people do not know the Copa America is actually the oldest continental football tournament in the world.

The Copa America officially began on July 2nd, 1916. Making it fourteen years older than the FIFA World Cup, which was first played in 1930, and a whopping forty-four years older than the UEFA European Championships, which wouldn’t hold its inaugural tournament until 1960.

That first tournament ran for fifteen days, until July, the 17th. Argentina hosted the tournament as a function to mark the centennial celebration of its independence as a nation. The first teams invited to the tournament in Argentina were Argentina, as hosts, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil. Back then the tournament was known as El Campeonato Sudamericano de Football. Uruguay would go on to win the tournament after tying 0–0 with the Argentine hosts. Uruguay, along with being the first champions, are also the most successful nation in this tournament.

They have won the trophy a record fifteen times, including the last tournament held in 2011.

Also during that 1916 tournament, another Uruguayan made history. Héctor Rivadavia, a board member of the Uruguayan Football Association, proposed the establishment of a confederation of football associations between Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. On July the 9th, actual independence day in Argentina, CONMEBOL was founded.

The tournament became an almost yearly event, following that inaugural tournament. Although it was not without its disruptions. In the 1930s the tournament would only be played three times in 1935, 1937, and 1939. This disruption was mostly due to the animosity between the Argentine and Uruguayan football federations. The disruptions would continue throughout the 40s, 50s and 60s with the tournament being held sporadically in those thirty years. Many nations were indifferent during those times, with a variety choosing not to participate.

In 1975, after not being played for eight years the tournament would return, now featuring the current ten teams of CONMEBOL and the tournament would henceforth be known as the Copa América.    

This brings us to today and the 44th edition of the Copa America in Chile. The favorites feature some of the usual suspects: Brazil and Argentina. the host nation Chile is also heavily favored to walk away with the silverware. The darkhorse of the tournament is – although it may be unfair to call them such – Colombia. Without a doubt these four teams are the teams to watch for the next three weeks.

Team Breakdowns


Automatically being the host nation, Chile are a team to watch. But they are no pushovers on the pitch either. They are lead by their flying superstar, Alexis Sanchez, and held together by their midfield general, Champions League finalist Arturo Vidal.

Chile play a passing based style of total football, a style first brought to this core of players by ex-manager Marcelo Bielsa. Under current coach, Jorge Sampaoli they have perfected this quick passing style and as a result, watching Chile play is always fun. It also doesn’t hurt to have La Liga’s record breaking goalkeeper, and Champions League winner, Claudio Bravo between the goal posts.

Chile are an ambitious team who have never won this tournament. Anything less than a tournament victory would be a major disappointment for the home nation. They should easily advance past the group stages ahead of lesser lights Bolivia and Ecuador, although tournament invitee, Mexico could surprise them.


Sergio Aguero and Angle Di Maria are shown embracing.

Brothers for life; teammates for a month. Photo: @FOXSports

Argentina is always a favored team entering the Copa America and it’s easy to see why. Their rich history and seemingly endless abundance of talent are a constant threat in any tournament. The Argentines are coming off a World Cup final loss to Germany last summer, but if anything, all that should do is serve to motivate the team, and a certain little someone who captains them.

Watch out! Argentina and Messi, eager to finally prove himself on the international stage, mean business.

Their players to watch are somewhat obvious. Lead by their aforementioned captain and the world’s best player Lionel Messi, the Argentines are a joy to watch up front. Messi and Aguero lead the line, although a supporting cast of Mascherano and Zabaleta provide a strong, albeit at times shaky, defensive spine for the team. They should also easily advance in a group featuring an underperforming Uruguay, without Luis Suarez, and the weaker nations of Paraguay and tournament invitee, Jamaica.


Neymar is pitcuted straight on in a game. He looks serious. He looks like an absolute bad ass.

The man. Photo: @beINSPORTSUSA | Twitter

The 2015 incarnation of Brazil, many will argue, is somewhat underwhelming. Although that should not stop them from being considered a tournament favorite. Similar to Argentina, Brazil are a team rich in history and talent. They are lead up top by Champions League winner, and Lionel Messi’s teammate, Neymar. Neymar oozes skill and scoring threat and should be a player other teams closely mark.

This is a Brazil managed by returning coach Carlos Dunga, and as a result is a little more defensive minded than previous Brazil teams.

At the back Brazil’s defence is solid, held together by captain Thiago Silva and young upstart Marquinhos, both, centre-backs who battle hard. Brazil’s group, Group C is the toughest in the tournament, featuring a plucky Peru side who could turn a few heads. Venezuela shouldn’t give the Selecao too much trouble though. Colombia rounds out the group.

Colombia: The Darkhorse or Another Favorite?

Colombia shouldn’t be considered a darkhorse in this tournament at all, but for the service of this article they shall be labelled as such. Colombia’s high powered offence ticks almost seamlessly thanks to the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner, James Rodriguez. Rodriguez is unique in that he can create chances but he has an eye for goal as well.

James will be looking to connect up top with high scoring forward Carlos Bacca, who is coming off his second straight UEFA Europa League crown with Sevilla, and Colombia’s captain Radamel Falcao.

Despite Falcao coming off a disappointing season at Manchester United, he always performs well for his country and should be eager to make up for lost time after missing last Summer’s World Cup through injury. As mentioned above, Colombia are in Group C, and should advance along with Brazil, but just who finishes first between the two will be gripping to watch.


Unlike larger tournaments, where talent can be diluted by playing weaker nations, at Copa America almost every team has a chance to go far. Any of the four mentioned above, or even another, could end up lifting the trophy come July, and no matter who does, it will be some exciting, high scoring football that gets the eventual winner there.

Get ready for a tournament of pace, passion and a whole lot of chanting, courtesy of the host nation.

Chi Chi Chi Le Le Le. Viva Chile!      

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