The Copa America is here once again!
The Copa America is the oldest international soccer tournament in the world. It features the premier international teams from South America and is hosted under the auspices of CONEMBOL. The tournament usually takes place after four years, but this year, a special edition of the tournament is being held to celebrate the Copa America’s hundredth anniversary.
The Copa América Centenario is being held in the United States and is the first edition of the tournament to be hosted outside of South America. Some of the best teams in the world are participating in the tournament and the talents of the best soccer players will be on display over the course of the tournament. To catch the games from the tournament, live from the various stadia, get Copa America tickets today.
History of the Tournament
Football was introduced to South America by British traders and settlers. The first recorded match in the continent’s history dates back to 1867 and is presumed to have been played by the British railway workers. As the sport started to gain popularity in the region, it was Argentina which eventually took steps to organize the first international games between fellow South American countries.
Argentina hosted the first international tournament in 1910 to commemorate the centennial year of the May Revolution. The teams invited to participate included Uruguay and Chile. However this event is not considered by CONEMBOL to be official so does not appear in their records.
In 1916, Argentina held another tournament to celebrate the country’s centennial birth year and this time Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Chile participated. The Campeonato Sudamericano de Football, as the tournament was called, ran from July 2nd – July 17th and became the first edition of the modern day Copa America. Uruguay had the honor of winning the tournament’s first edition.
The success of the tournament convinced the participating members to establish a confederation which would comprise each member’s soccer association. Thus CONMEBOL was formed.
The first few editions of the tournament featured only these four countries. However, in 1921, Paraguay participated in the tournament for the first time and was followed by Bolivia in 1926 and Peru in 1927. In later years, other South American countries joined in including Ecuador, Venezuela.
The Copa America features twelve teams which are divided into three groups. The top three teams from each group progress on to the playoff stage of the tournament. The quarterfinals, semifinals and final determine the tournament’s winner.
However, due to the small number of CONMEBOL affiliates, the federation is forced to invite teams from other confederations to complete the twelve team roster. The invitees usually hail from the CONCACAF region of North America.
The 2016 edition of the tournament is a special edition of the tournament, which is why it features sixteen teams. The teams have been divided in four groups of four and the top two teams from each group will qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament.
Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay have secured the most top four finishes in the tournament’s history.
Uruguay have won the Copa America fifteen times and finished runners up six times. They have also finished third a record nine times. Uruguay crashed out of the 2015 tournament at the quarterfinals stage and last won the tournament in 2011.
Argentina have the second most wins in the tournament and have won the Copa America fourteen times. La Albiceleste have finished as runners up a record thirteen times and have finished third four times. Argentina last won the tournament in 1993 and were runners up in the 2015 edition.
Brazil have won the prestigious tournament eight times and finished runners up eleven times and third seven times. The Selecao won four consecutive titles from 1997-2007 and last won the Copa in 2007 as well. Brazil were knocked out at the quarterfinals stage during the 2015 edition.
Paraguay and Peru have won the tournament twice, while Bolivia, Columbia and Chile have won the Copa once in their history.
The 2016 Copa America features ten CONMEBOL teams and six CONCACAF teams. The teams from South America include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. CONCACAF teams include the hosts, United States, Costa Rica, Mexico, Jamaica, Haiti and Panama.
Games will be played at ten venues all across the United States. The venues include the CenturyLink Field (Seattle), the Soldier Field (Chicago), the Gillette Stadium (Foxborough), the Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara), the Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia), the Rose Bowl (Pasadena), the University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale), the NRG Stadium (Houston) and the Camping World Stadium (Orlando). It was one of the stipulations of the tournament that each venue should have a seating capacity of more than fifty thousand and these were the stadiums that were chosen.
Teams to Watch Out For:
There are several talented sides in the Copa America in this year’s edition. The defending champions Chile will have their work cut out for them if they want to retain the trophy they won last year. The main contenders for the tournament are Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Columbia and Chile, while the dark horses include Mexico and the United States.
Argentina has one of the most talented squads in the tournament. The side features world class players like Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Javier Mascherano and of course, current Ballon D’Or winner, Lionel Messi. Other star names in the side include Gonzalo Higuain, Erik Lamela, Marcos Rojo and Javier Pastore. La Albiceleste were beaten finalists in the 2015 edition and will hope to go all the way this time and win the Copa. They certainly have to squad to do that.
Brazilian sides have historically been full of flair and panache and their current side is no different. Their squad boasts the talents of Hulk, Lucas Moura, Phillipe Coutinho, Felipe Luis, Casemiro, Marquinhos and Dani Alves. Brazil were eliminated in the quarter finals of the 2015 Copa America and will want to ensure they give a much better showing this time around.
Chile are reaping the fruits of producing a golden generation of players. The country won its first Copa America last year and will be hoping to retain the crown in the United States in 2016. Star players on the Chilean squad include Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Gary Medel and Claudio Bravo.
Another talented side, Columbia won the hearts of the many during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, due to their beautiful style of play. Columbia were eliminated in the quarter finals stage of the 2015 Copa America after losing to Argentina on penalties. The team will certainly want to improve on that performance this year. World class players in the Columbian squad include James Rodriguez, David Ospina, Carlos Bacca and Juan Cuadrado.
Ever since Uruguay finished in the top four of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, people have considered them dark horses at every major event since then. The country is enjoying the fruits of producing a golden generation of players who have represented some of the biggest clubs in the world and it seems only a matter of time before they win a major tournament again. Star players in the Uruguay side include Luis Suarez, Diego Godin, Edinson Cavani, Maxi Pereira and Jose Giminez.
The Copa America Centenario will feature some of the best soccer players in the world. The two biggest names are FC Barcelona’s famed attacking duo of Messi and Suarez. Lionel Messi is a five time Ballon D’Or winner and considered by many to be the greatest player to have ever graced a soccer pitch. Luis Suarez, on the other hand, is considered as the best out and out striker currently playing professionally and is considered a serious contender for next year’s Ballon D’Or.
Other world class players, who can light up the tournament, include Arsenal FC’s prodigious talent, Alexis Sanchez, and Real Madrid’s star midfielder, James Rodriguez. Both players are blessed with the ability to score outrageous goals and fans can expect them to produce moments of magic over the course of the tournament.
Copa America Centenario So Far
The tournament kicked off on 3 June and in a week of fixtures has already given us many surprises. The first biggest surprise of the tournament was Mexico’s 3-1 win over Uruguay. This was an unexpected result and has given a lot credentials to Mexico’s status as dark horses for the tournament.
Brazil could only manage to draw with Ecuador in its opening fixture and they will need to win against Peru and Haiti to ensure their place in the knock out stages of the tournament.
Argentina and Chile faced off in their opening group games in a repeat of the 2015 Copa America final. This time around, Argentina won 2-1 to get their revenge on Chile. This leaves Chile in a precarious spot in their group and they will need to win their remaining games to progress comfortably from the group and have a chance to retain the Cup.
The Copa America Centenario will continue to produce unexpected twists and mouthwatering matchups as it progresses along. Once the group stages are complete, only the best teams will remain in the tournament and their games will certainly be worth a watch. To catch all the action live from the stadiums, get your Copa America tickets.