Brazil were held to a 0-0 draw by Ecuador in their opening Copa America group game, and that makes this week’s tie against Haiti all the more important. Coach Dunga elected to take a strong squad to the Olympics in Rio this summer, with Neymar the most notable absentee from the Copa America squad, but they still have plenty of quality in relation to the likes of Haiti.
It would be an embarrassment if Brazil were to fail to get out of the group and reach the quarter finals in this centenary tournament, and they are the top selection in a week of intriguing fixtures. Argentina enter the fray on Monday night/Tuesday morning (depending where you are in the world), and it’s a tough opener against current champions Chile. The USA who expected so much in a tournament they are hosting, went down 2-0 to Colombia in the curtain-raiser to the competition, and they will try to pick up the pieces against a solid Costa Rica side which drew 0-0 with Paraguay in the other group A game. Colombia and Paraguay face each other with former looking to make it six points from two games and all but seal qualification.
Brazil v Haiti
Brazil are plenty short enough to win the match, so backing the Selecao to win to nil at -143 with BetVictor makes more appeal.
The likes of Coutinho and Willian lined up for Brazil against Ecuador at the weekend but despite 70% possession they failed to break down a dogged side. It could have been much worse had Ecuador’s disallowed goal stood, but the officials ruled that the ball had gone out of play before Brazil keeper Alisson fumbled into his own net.
Haiti qualified for this special edition of the Copa America, which has been extended to 16 teams, but they are no match for the quality of most the sides on display. Their first game was respectable enough with a 1-0 defeat to Peru, but it was also their third defeat in a row after losses to Colombia and Panama. When these two countries last met in 2004 Brazil ran out 6-0 winners, and although the teams have obviously changed a great deal, Dunga’s men should still be far superior on the day. It would be a shock if Haiti found the net, but it would be an even bigger one if Brazil failed to do so and the win to nil looks like an outstanding bet considering Brazil need the three points.
Argentina v Chile
This tournament is one in which Argentina expects, and we’ve already laid out in previous articles why we think it’s their competition to lose. Along with Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay, Chile are one of the chief dangers, but they’ve been off-colour over the last six months after the highs of the Copa America win on home soil last year.
Alexis Sanchez and co. have lost four of their last five internationals, including a 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat at the hands of Argentina as recently as March. Uruguay also beat them 3-0 in qualification and Chile will have their work cut out to secure their participation in World Cup 2018. Friendly defeats to Mexico and Jamaica do not inspire confidence, and this is the worst possible start for them coming up against the tournament favourites.
Lionel Messi is yet to win international honours with his country and it remains one of the few achievements left for arguably the world’s best player. We expect him to be fully fired up to lead the charge, and with Bolivia and Panama to follow in the group, three points here would set the tone for a successful tournament.
USA v Costa Rica
The 2-0 defeat to Colombia left the USA bottom of group A after the first round of matches, and defeat here would make it highly unlikely that they can reach the quarter finals. A draw would at least leave them in with a chance as their final fixture comes against Paraguay, but that is no foregone conclusion by any means. First they will do all they can to grab three points here, but they may just fall short again.
Colombia eased to victory over the weekend and USA were rather toothless in attack. They will have more possession against Costa Rica, but will have to be much more incisive to break them down. The Costa Rican side have only conceded three goals in their last six internationals, and have beaten USA the last twice they have played in 2013 and 2015. They’re also on a run of nine games with just one defeat and are good value for at least a point here.
Colombia v Paraguay
The Colombian team that performed so well at World Cup 2014 have had a mixed time of things over the last couple of years. They were unfortunate to go out on penalties to Argentina in the quarter finals of last year’s Copa America, and are in a battle for World Cup qualification. However, they’ve won their last four matches and should be too good for a workmanlike Paraguay side.
Paraguay were surprise semi-finalists in last year’s competition after knocking Brazil out on penalties, but they were duly thumped 6-1 by Argentina in the last four. They’ve won just twice in ten internationals since then, and have been beaten the last three times they’ve played Colombia.
Brazil to beat Haiti to Nil
Thursday 9th June, 00:30 GMT
Argentina to beat Chile
Tuesday 7th June, 03:00 GMT
Costa Rica or Draw Double Chance
Wednesday 8th June, 01:00 GMT
Colombia to beat Paraguay
Wednesday 8th June, 03:30 GMT
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