The Copa America’s propensity for springing surprises was thrillingly prevalent in 2011 when Uruguay beat Paraguay in the final. Four years on, soccer supporters from across the globe will be hoping for comparable drama as the 2015 edition of competition gets underway in Chile.

Brazil and Argentina are the big favorites for glory, but teams like Chile, Colombia and Uruguay will all fancy their chances of going all the way too.

Here’s a closer look at all 12 teams involved in the summer showpiece and the players poised to shine in this unique tournament.


• Copa America TV schedule (for viewers in US)

• Copa America and Women’s World Cup TV schedule combined.

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Group A


Head Coach: Jorge Sampaoli

Captain: Claudio Bravo

La Roja Looking to Capitalize on Home Advantage

Chile will go in search of their maiden Copa America title, as La Roja look to thrill their home supporters in the 2015 edition of this prestigious competition.

La Roja have come close to winning their continental tournament, finishing runners-up four times, the most recent being in 1987. But given the quality at Sampaoli’s disposal, the fervent backing they are likely to receive from their supporters and the familiarity these players have with the bespoke Chilean conditions, this may be the best opportunity this fanatical football nation have ever had.

There are standout names in this group, with Barcelona’s Bravo, Juventus’ Arturo Vidal and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez all heading back home this summer on the back of prosperous campaigns. But this Chile side have always been about the collective and as was on show at the 2014 World Cup, they play a ferocious brand of football.

The strides made last summer have been built upon. La Roja showed their quality in a dominant performance against Brazil at the Emirates earlier this year and although they eventually lost that friendly 1-0, Sampaoli will have taken plenty of encouragement from the multifaceted nature of the display.

If the high-octane style functions and men like Sanchez and Vidal can sprinkle their stardust on clashes, then Chile will go far in this competition. This is a team with a strong spine, a festering winning mentality and a hunger to lift their first ever Copa.

Key Player: Arturo Vidal

After summer transfer rumors and fitness problems hampered Vidal in the early parts of this season, the Chilean midfielder has been back to his phenomenal best in Bianconeri colors during the run-in.

Vidal inspired Juventus to another Serie A title, the Coppa Italia and to the Champions League final. La Roja supporters will now be hoping the firebrand midfield man can add similar impetus to the heart of their midfield; at his best, Vidal can not only drive a team forward, but add the kind of defensive steel which Chile will need if they’re to go all the way to the final.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Barcelona), Paulo Garces (Colo-Colo), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile).

Defenders: Miiko Albornoz (Hannover), Mauricio Isla (QPR), Gonzalo Jara (Mainz), Gary Medel (Inter), Eugenio Mena (Cruzeiro), Jose Rojas (Universidad de Chile).

Midfielders: Charles Aranguiz (Internacional), Jean Beausejour (Colo-Colo), Carlos Carmona (Atalanta), Marcelo Diaz (Hamburg), Matias Fernandez (Fiorentina), Felipe Gutierrez (Twente), Arturo Vidal (Juventus), David Pizarro (Fiorentina), Jorge Valdivia (Palmeiras).

Forwards: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Eduardo Vargas (QPR), Angelo Henriquez (Dinamo Zagreb), Mauricio Pinilla (Atalanta), Edson Puch (Huracan).




Head Coach: Miguel Herrera

Captain: Rafael Marquez

Gold Cup a Clear Priority for Mexico

It’s going to be a busy summer for Mexico, as this team gets set to negotiate a tilt at the Copa America and the Gold Cup which will follow soon after. It’s clear that while they’ll be taking the Chile competition very seriously, the Gold Cup is Herrera’s priority.

Any doubts about that have been dispelled by the squad named by El Tri’s manager. The bulk of this squad is made up of Liga MX players, with just a smattering of European-based men included. It means there’s no place for Guillermo Ochoa, Hector Moreno, Andres Guardado, Javier Hernandez, Giovani dos Santos or Carlos Vela.

There’s a clutch of players who will be keen to make an impression here. Jesus Corona has been pushing Ochoa for a starting spot in goal, 36-year-old Marquez could be playing in his final Copa America and Atletico Madrid’s Raul Jimenez will be hoping to show his potential after a season on the fringes of the first team at the Vicente Calderon.

Jimenez will be joined up top by Pumas’ Eduardo Herrera, who looked in excellent form in El Tri’s recent friendly encounter against Guatemala. But it’s going to interesting to see how a second string squad fare when Mexico come up against some battle hardened opponents.

El Tri may still have enough to get out of the group stages, but without the star quality provided by some of the aforementioned absentees, it’s unlikely Mexico will progress beyond the quarter-finals given the calibre of teams hoping to challenge for this title.

Key Player: Rafa Marquez

In a squad which will be unfamiliar to many, the experience and leadership of the veteran defender is going to be so important to Mexico’s chances in Chile.

Marquez may not have been at his very best this season for Hellas Verona, but typically, when donning the green jersey of his national side he produces his very best. Still a fine reader of the game, the former Barcelona man has long been a lynchpin at the heart of either a four or five-man defense, but he’ll have to roll back the years if he’s to keep out some of attacking talent in this tournament.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Meliton Hernandez (Veracruz)

Defenders: George Corral (Queretaro), Gerry Flores (Cruz Azul), Rafa Marquez (Verona), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Julio Dominguez (Cruz Azul), Carlos Salcedo (Chivas), Miguel Herrera (Pachuca), Adrian Aldrete (Santos), Efrain Velarde (Monterrey)

Midfielders: Mario Osuna (Queretaro), Juan Carlos Medina (Atlas), Javier Guemez (Tijuana), Jesus “Tecatito” Corona (FC Twente), Javier Aquino (Rayo Vallecano), Luis Montes (Leon), Marco Fabian (Chivas)

Forwards: Raul Jimenez (Atletico Madrid), Eduardo Herrera (Pumas), Enrique Esqueda (Tigres), Matias Vuoso (Chiapas)



Head Coach: Gustavo Quinteros

Captain: Walter Ayovi

La Tri Hoping to Overcome Injury Problems

The team most likely capitalize from Mexico’s decision to take a shadow squad to this tournament is Ecuador, but Quinteros’ own group has been blighted by fitness concerns surrounding key players in the build-up to the Chile showpiece.

It means Manchester United midfielder Antonio Valencia will not be involved in the competition—he is recovering from ankle surgery—while the wing-play of Angel Mena and the rumbustious attacking influence of powerhouse forward Felipe Caicedo will also be missed, with those two also omitted because of fitness problems.

Ecuador still have some exciting players, though. Enner Valencia will be the man tasked with shouldering the attacking burden in the absence of his namesake and Caicedo; he’s shown in bursts what he is capable of this season in the Premier League with West Ham United, but seems to up the ante when playing for the national team.

They have a brilliant chance of finishing in the top two in this group. Ecuador will play Chile in the tournament opener and will fancy their chances of catching the hosts off guard; Quinteros will also feel as though his team is more than capable of beating the Group A’s other two teams, Mexico and Bolivia.

The weakness in this squad are at the back and while La Tri’s attacking quality should cover up those deficiencies in the early stages, as soon as they come up against an incisive attacking opponent, they’ll find things very difficult.

Key Player: Jefferson Montero

With Valencia and Mena both missing, Jefferson Montero is the player who will be hoping to give La Tri some vibrancy in the wide areas.

The Swansea City star seemed set to be one of the captures of the season as he hit the ground running at the Liberty Stadium early on. His form dipped in the middle stages of the season, but the Ecuadorian turned in some dazzling displays in the final matches of the campaign; he’ll be hoping to fill the void left by injured key individuals.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Alexander Dominguez (LDU Quito), Esteban Dreer (Emelec), Librado Azcona (Independiente del Valle)

Defenders: Oscar Bagui (Emelec), Frickson Erazo (Gremio), Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Juan Carlos Paredes (Watford), Mario Pineida (Indipendiente del Valle), Arturo Mina (Independiente del Valle), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca)

Midfielders: Cristhian Noboa (PAOK Athens), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem), Osbaldo Lastra (Emelec), Fidel Martinez (UDG), Jonathan Gonzales (UDG), Michael Arroyo (Club America), Juan Cazares (Banfield)

Forwards: Miler Bolanos (Emelec), Enner Valencia (West Ham United), Jefferson Montero (Swansea City), Jaime Ayovi (Godoy Cruz)



Head Coach: Mauricio Soria

Captain: Ronald Raldes

Bolivia Big Underdogs in Competitive Group A

The big outsiders to progress from Group A will be Bolivia, a side who will be hoping to progress into the knockout rounds for the first time since 1997.

In the tournament 18 years ago, they finished runners-up on home soil and in many respects, their progress in that competition was emblematic of their status as a football national: brilliant at home, not up to much elsewhere. Indeed, El Verde have not won a game away from home since 2007.

A 2-2 draw against Chile in late 2014 will serve as some sort of encouragement, but the truth is that this squad is way short of the quality required to challenge. Adding to their problems, star striker Gustavo Pinedo has decided to stay with his club side San Martin de San Juan to assist in their Primera Division cause instead of heading to chile.

As far as star players go, there aren’t many. Skipper Ronald Raldes is a solid and uncompromising defender, while former Shakhtar Donetsk striker Marcelo Martins Moreno is the team’s post potent attacking force.

But it’s going to take a staggering and extremely unlikely turnaround in fortunes for Mauricio Soria’s team to pick up a victory at this championship.

Key Player: Marcelo Martins Moreno

After unsuccessful spells in European football, where he turned out for Shakhtar, Wigan Athletic and Werder Bremen, and more fruitless spells with Gremio, Flamengo and Cruzeiro, Moreno is now at Chinese club Changchun Yatai in an attempt to kickstart his career.

While Bolivia are going to have to defend extremely well to pick up any positive results in the group, Moreno must take any chances that do emerge. At this juncture, if El Verde are going to find a hero, the forward—who has scored 19 goals for Bolivia—looks like the most probable candidate.

Full Squad: 

Goalkeepers Romel Quinonez (Bolivar), Hugo Suarez (Blooming), Jose Penarrieta (Oriente Petrolero)

Defenders: Miguel Hurtado, Leonel Morales, Cristian Coimbra (all Blooming), Marvin Bejarano, Ronald Raldes (both Oriente Petrolero), Edemir Rodriguez, Ronald Eguino (Bolivar), Edward Zenteno (Wilstermann)

Midfielders: Danny Bejarano (Oriente Petrolero), Walter Veizaga, Alejandro Chumacero (The Strongest), Damir Miranda (Bolivar), Sebastian Gamarra (AC Milan), Damian Lizio (O’Higgins), Martin Smedberg (IFK Gothenburg)

Forwards: Alcides Pena (Oriente Petrolero), Pablo Escobar (The Strongest), Jhasmani Campos (Bolivar), Marcelo Martins (Chanchung Yatai), Ricardo Pedriel (Mersin)



Group B


Head Coach: Tata Martino

Captain: Lionel Messi

Argentina Looking to End 22-year Trophy Drought

On paper, this is a formidable Argentina squad. Not only are the attacking options available to Martino probably most desirable in international football, but the talent in both midfield and defensive positions seem to have been enriched when compared to last summer’s World Cup.

For the Albiceleste, it’s always been about putting these fascinating facets of the side together. This is a squad of players that should deliver the Copa America for their country and they have a manager who seems to have stumbled upon a formula in the build-up to the tournament. But there’s an unshakeable sense that Argentina may just conspire to mess things up again.

But does Messi’s own sensational form offset those perennial mental problems? The captain has been in astonishing form in 2015 for Barcelona, winning a clutch of trophies and conjuring critical contributions at vital moments in massive matches. He’s the kind of player who could take a merciless grip of this tournament and propel the Albiceleste into the final.

So too could Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain, making Argentina a major force offensively. In midfield, Javier Mascherano will anchor, while both Javier Pastore and Roberto Pereyra are creative talents capable of adding more ingenuity further forward.

At the back, the starting back-four is likely to see Pablo Zabaleta and Marcos Rojo flanking Ezequiel Garay and the excellent Nicolas Otamendi. It gives Martino’s side what look a hugely compact base, even though there are lingering concerns surrounding the calibre of starting goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

It’s been 22 years since this obsessed footballing nation sampled silverware in a major tournament; after coming so close in the World Cup last summer, expect this Argentina group to be hungry to make amends and led by the majesty of Messi, make a major push towards some long overdue glory.

Key Man: Lionel Messi

After a trophy laden end to the club season, Messi will be hoping to preserve the astonishing levels he showcased for Barcelona when he does don the blue and white of his national team. After seeing the World Cup slip from his grasp last summer, the Argentina star will surely be insatiable in his will to fire the Albiceleste all the way.

Martino has been able to find a way of getting the best out of Messi in recent matches for the Albiceleste, with previous bosses struggling with the quandary this complex player poses. The Barcelona man is likely to be floating inside from the right-flank to supplement the likes of Aguero and dazzling defenders in his patented style.

Adding the Copa America to the treble won by Barcelona would be the coupe de grace on an astonishing few months for a man many are hailing as the greatest ever.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Nahuel Guzman (UANL Tigres), Sergio Romero (Sampdoria), Geronimo Rulli (Real Sociedad)

Defenders: Ezequiel Garay (Zenit St Petersburg), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Facundo Roncaglia (Genoa), Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal), Lucas Orban, Nicolas Otamendi (both Valencia)

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Javier Pastore (Paris St-Germain), Angel Di Maria (Manchester United), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Roberto Pereyra (Juventus), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Enzo Perez (Valencia)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris St-Germain), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Carlos Tevez (Juventus)



Head Coach: Oscar Tabarez

Captain: Diego Godin

Uruguay Hoping to Make it Two in a Row

A triumph for Uruguay in 2011 came as a major surprise to many. Tabarez’s team were diligent, determined and had a little bit of star quality four years ago, but perhaps most importantly, this squad thrived in the big moments, no more so than beating Argentina in the quarter-finals before toppling Paraguay 3-0 in the final.

With that victory has come added expectations for this team. Reaching the second round at the World Cup was about par, especially with a unfit and then banned Luis Suarez; the Celeste will have to do without the Barcelona firebrand this summer as part of his ban for sinking his teeth into Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.

Nonetheless, this is a team that’ll battle hard to keep hold of their title. Tabarez is now nine years into his tenure as manager and his principles have rarely deviated from being cohesive, hard-working and tenacious. Uruguay, in short, are a team full of footballing warriors reeking of the gnarly trait of garra charrua

With that in mind, it’d be mawkish to completely rule out their chances. Edinson Cavani is a world-class striker and will relish leading the line; in Godin and his Atletico Madrid teammate Jose Gimenez, Tabarez can call upon two of the tournament’s very best centre-backs too.

However, winning the cup for a second successive competition seems beyond them. Suarez is an irreplaceable influence at the point of the attack and while the Uruguay midfield is unrelentingly industrious, they don’t have the intricacy to incisively probe at the meanest defenses.

They should have enough to emerge from what will be an entertaining Group B and maybe even beyond. But without Suarez, the semi-finals is as far as they will go in defense of their title.

Key Player: Diego Godin

The Atletico Madrid center-back has established himself as one of the finest defenders in world football under the tutelage of Diego Simeone and his influence is going to be so important in this tournament.

Godin is indomitable in the air, fearsome in the tackle and a magnificent reader of the game. With Suarez gone, the key to this Uruguay team is going to be building a team on solid foundations and Atletico talisman is a quality organizer. In addition to his array of defensive qualities, Godin also has a penchant for popping up with big goals from set-pieces too.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama), Rodrigo Munoz (Libertad)

Defenders: Maxi Pereira (Benfica), Jose Maria Gimenez, Diego Godin (both Atletico Madrid), Sebastian Coates (Liverpool), Gaston Silva (Torino)

Midfielders: Alvaro Pereira (Estudiantes), Mathias Corujo, Guzman Pereira (both Universidad de Chile), Jorge Fucile (Nacional), Alvaro Gonzalez (Torino), Carlos Sanchez (River Plate), Egidio Arevalo Rios (UANL Tigres), Nicolas Lodeiro (Boca Juniors), Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid)

Forwards: Giorgian de Arrascaeta (Cruzeiro), Cristhian Stuani (Espanyol), Abel Hernandez (Hull City), Edinson Cavani (Paris St Germain), Diego Rolan (Girondins Bordeaux), Jonathan Rodriguez (Benfica)



Head Coach: Ramon Diaz

Captain: Roque Santa Cruz

Tournament of Transition Likely for 2011 Runners-Up

Paraguay enjoyed a fantastic run in this competition four years ago. They eliminated Brazil in the quarter-finals of the competition, edged past Venezuela in the semi-finals, but fell short in the final, losing 3-0 to Uruguay.

For a soccer team that has fallen on tough times, that final appearance in 2011 was a rare high. The vast majority of Paraguay’s most high-profile players are aging, the young players coming through aren’t of a similar quality and an experienced squad named by Diaz is emblematic of the nation’s current demographic of top players.

Although star striker Oscar Cardozo will miss the Chile showpiece, the main strengths in this squad remain in the forward department. Team captain Santa Cruz will lead the line, but with players like Nelson Valdez and Lucas Barrios also in situ, there are plenty of thoroughbred goalscorers to chose from.

In 2011 this team proved they could be cohesive and difficult to beat, but it’s going to be tough for Diaz to get a similarly solid tune out of this group having only taken the Albirroja job in December 2014. With that in mind, a repeat of their sequence from four years ago is surely beyond them.

A third place finish and potential qualification as one of the top third placed teams seems their best route into the knockout stages. But for Diaz, this tournament is a chance to run the rule over some squad members in major competition and build some foundations for the World Cup qualification campaign in 2018.

Key Player: Roque Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is Paraguay’s all-time record goalscorer and the offensive burden is likely to be primarily on his shoulders in Chile.

Granted, the forward will be reliant on the service he’ll be in receipt of from midfielder players, but the 33-year-old striker is someone capable of pouncing on any opportunities that come his way. For Santa Cruz, this is likely to be his final Copa America and he’ll be desperate to make an impression in what could be his international farewell when it comes to major tournaments.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers:Alfredo Aguilar (Guarani), Anthony Silva (Independiente Medellin), Justo Villar (Colo Colo)

Defenders: Pablo Aguilar (America), Fabian Balbuena (Libertad), Marcos Caceres (Newell’s Old Boys), Paulo Da Silva (Toluca), Ivan Piris (Udinese), Miguel Samudio (America), Bruno Valdez (Cerro Porteno)

Midfielders: Eduardo Aranda (Olimpia), Victor Caceres (Flamengo), Osvaldo Martinez (America), Osmar Molinas (Libertad), Nestor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo), Richard Ortiz (Toluca), Oscar Romero (Racing)

Forwards: Lucas Barrios (Montpellier), Edgar Benitez (Toluca), Raul Bobadilla (Augsburg), Derlis Gonzalez (Basel), Nelson Haedo Valdez (Eintracht Frankfurt), Roque Santa Cruz (Cruz Azul)




Head Coach: Winfried Schafer

Captain: Rodolph Austin

Jamaica are one of the two invited teams in this year’s competition and they’ll competing for the first time in the nation’s history.

Little is expected of them in terms of progression, but for Schafer and his player, this is a unique opportunity to test their merits against some of the world’s top players. The Reggae Boyz have played with an energy and flair under his tutelage; expect them to be entertaining, if not altogether effective.

As fellow Group B sides Paraguay and Uruguay will attest to, the Copa does have a propensity for churning out surprise results. Therefore, Jamaica will go into this competition with positive intentions and will be hopeful of picking up a positive result against Paraguay at least.

Getting beyond the group stages seems beyond them, though. Although they have some capable players in all facets of the side—Adrian Mariappa and Wes Morgan provide a solid base, Austin drives the team forward in midfield and Simon Dawkins gives an effervescent edge up front—the quality in the first XI isn’t there to match the top sides.

Nonetheless, don’t expect Jamaica to have any issues playing with freedom in an attempt to upset the odds against the top sides; any matches involving the Reggae Boyz should be a fascinating spectacle.

Key Player: Simon Dawkins

Following on from a disappointing end to the season for his club side Derby County, Dawkins will be desperate to make amends for his international team this summer.

The winger is a player who seems ready to make the step up to the top level of English football and this summer’s tournament is a brilliant opportunity to showcase some of his talents. Quick, tricky and a strong finisher, Dawkins will be Jamaica’s best chance of nicking a goal and springing a surprise in Group B.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Ryan Thompson (Pittsburgh Riverhounds), Duwayne Kerr (Sarpsborg 08), Dwayne Miller (Syrianska)

Defenders: Wes Morgan (Leicester City), Jermaine Taylor (Houston Dynamo), Michael Hector (Reading), Daniel Gordon (Karlsruhe), Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace), Hughan Gray (Waterhouse FC), Kemar Lawrence (NY Red Bulls)

Midfielders: Je-Vaughn Watson (FC Dallas), Rodolph Austin (Leeds United), Joel Grant (Yeovil Town), Lance Laing (FC Edmonton), Garath McCleary (Reading), Joel McAnuff (Leyton Orient)

Forwards: Allan Ottey, Dino Williams (both Montego Bay United), Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo), Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps), Simon Dawkins (Derby County), Deshorn Brown (Valerenga Oslo), Romeo Parkes (Metapan)



Group C


Head Coach: Dunga

Captain: Neymar

Brazil Hoping to Banish Memories of Major Tournament Humiliation

After that loss to Germany in Belo Horizonte in the semi-final of their own World Cup, Brazil were always going to have to undergo a stage of significant transition. Nonetheless, a few quizzical eyebrows were raised when former manager Dunga was handed the job for a second time after an underwhelming first tenure.

In truth, his pragmatic approach is exactly what this team have needed. They may have deviated a little from the principles synonymous with the country’s samba style, but Brazil are now more resolute, more cohesive in defense and have made steady progress under the tutelage of the former World Cup-winning captain.

It was a diligence on show in earnest when the Selecao edged past Chile in a far from friendly exhibition match at the Emirates earlier this year and when they beat France on the road. But as this summer’s showpiece edges ever closer, the challenge for Brazil is to up the ante, bring some swagger back to their football and make up for the myriad major tournament failures in recent years.

Indeed, while everyone thinks back to the 7-1 humbling in Belo Horizonte, Brazil were also abject in the previous Copa, going out on penalties against Paraguay in the quarter-finals. If they were to fall short once again, big questions would be asked, not only over the manager, but of the mental strength of the entire squad.

There’s no reason to suggest Brazil will falter this time, however. They’re a team that are making small but significant steps under Dunga, have a squad bristling with vibrant young talent and in Neymar, a player that has forged his reputation as a thoroughbred world-class talent in the 2014/15 season.

They’ll be there or there about come the climax in Chile and this is a group of players capable of taking the competition by storm. Doing so would go a long way to healing the gaping wounds still are raw from their shocking World Cup elimination.

Key Player: Neymar

It’s a virtually impossible job to step out of Messi’s shadow at Barcelona, but this year Neymar has done his utmost to match the extraordinary levels of the Argentina star. Consequentially, the Brazil captain has taken his game to new heights in what’s been such a prosperous campaign for the Blaugrana.

In Selecao colors, Neymar really enjoys being the main man. His goalscoring record for the national team is stunning and after being handed the armband following the World Cup, the former Santos man is relishing the responsibility of leading this fanatical football country into a critical new era.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Jefferson (Botafogo), Marcelo Grohe (Grêmio), Neto (Fiorentina)

Defenders: Fabinho (Monaco), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Filipe Luis (Chelsea), Danilo (Porto), David Luiz (PSG), Marquinhos (PSG), Thiago Silva (PSG), Miranda (Atletico de Madrid)

Midfielders: Elias (Corinthians), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Willian (Chelsea), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Everton Ribeiro (Al-Ahli), Douglas Costa (Shakhtar Donetsk), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Forwards: Neymar (Barcelona), Robinho (Santos), Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim), Diego Tardelli (Shandong Luneng)




Head Coach: Jose Pekerman

Captain: Radamel Falcao

Colombia Hoping to Consolidate Strong World Cup Showing

Playing with a vibrancy and swagger throughout the 2014 World Cup, Colombia were one of the major success stories of the Brazil showpiece.

They were unlucky to lose in the quarters to the hosts in that competition and will be desperate to cement their reputation as a top tier side with a strong showing here. The squad assembled by Pekerman is set to guarantee excitement once again and they have the qualities to put together a decent run in the competition.

The attacking talent in this squad is obviously where this team’s strengths lie. With the creative talents of James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado providing chances for the likes of Radamel Falcao and Jackson Martinez, this is a team that’ll always score goals.

Given the strength in depth Pekerman can call upon up front, with players like Carlos Bacca, Victor Ibarbo and Teo Gutierrez likely to begin on the bench, there is always an option for Colombia to alter matters if things aren’t quite going their way. However, there’s not a surfeit of options in other facets of the squad.

The defense is made up of talented young players and this tournament will be a big test for  the likes of Jeison Murillo and Pedro Franco at the back. An injury to midfield enforcer Fredy Guarin also leaves Los Cafeteros a little short of options in central areas.

They have the quality to cause big problems for Brazil in Group B and it’d be no surprise to see this enthralling side top the standings. But they don’t quite possess the shrewdness or enough resolve at the back to go all the way.

Key Player: James Rodriguez

Colombia’s magnificent playmaker was the standout player at the World Cup last summer and undaunted by a move to Real Madrid, Rodriguez’s stock has continued to soar following a magnificent debut season at the Santiago Bernabeu.

James is a critical fulcrum in this Colombia side. Whether drifting in from a wide position or operating as an orthodox No. 10, the playmaker is vital to players like Falcao and Martinez flourishing in front of goal. Expect another set of mesmeric performances from the Cafeteros star in Chile as he continues to cement his reputation as one of the game’s very best.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Cristian Bonilla (Equidad), David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (Atletico Nacional)

Defenders: Darwin Andrade (Standard Liege), Santiago Arias (PSV), Pablo Armero (Flamengo), Pedro Franco (Besiktas), Jeison Murillo (Granada), Carlos Valdes (Nacional), Cristian Zapata (Milan), Camilo Zuniga (Napoli)

Midfielders: Abel Aguilar (Toulouse), Edwin Cardona (Monterrey), Juan Cuadrado (Chelsea), Alexander Mejia (Monterrey), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Carlos Sanchez (Aston Villa), Edwin Valencia (Santos)

Forwards: Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Radamel Falcao (Manchester United), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate), Victor Ibarbo (Roma), Jackson Martinez (Porto), Luis Muriel (Sampdoria)



Head Coach: Ricardo Gareca

Captain: Claudio Pizarro

Peru Facing Uphill Struggle to Progress

Having only been named as manager in February 2015, Gareca has had minimal time to get Peru ready for this Copa. If that wasn’t a hindrance in itself, facing Brazil in their opener and Colombia in the final game of Group C, getting into the knockout stage is an almighty ask.

This a team notorious for their frailties away from their home stadium in Lima too. In games on the road, they’ve not picked up three points in a match for 11 years, but they do have happy memories of this tournament; in a 2011 competition punctured by so many shocks, they were able to scrap their way to third place.

Looking at the squad, there’s plenty of quality with their ranks too. Carlos Zambrano is a capable centre-back, Juan Manuel Vargas is adaptable midfielder and in advanced areas, the dynamic Jefferson Farfan is not only a major threat, but a vital supply line to veteran striker Claudio Pizzaro, who still possesses razor-sharp goalscoring instincts.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty as to what shape this team is going to take in addition the the style in which they are set to play in. Against quality opponents like the two aforementioned South American juggernauts, sitting deep, closing off spaces and counter-attacking through Farfan seems their best chance of sneaking into the quarter-finals.

In an unforgiving group, that’d be a remarkable achievement, but there’s next to no chance of the Incans replicating their heroics of four years ago.

Key Player: Jefferson Farfan

Peru have a vibrant side and the influence of Farfan on the wings has been critical to their success. But the Schalke star has so often been injured for his nation’s critical contests and he’ll be desperate to make an overdue mark in this competition.

Blisteringly quick, supremely skillful and possessing a thunderous right foot, Farfan is a major offensive weapon for Peru. The link up play between him and Pizarro will be the team’s most likely source of goals; as the most high-profile player in the squad, Peruvian supporters will look to Farfan to turn in some talismanic performances.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Pedro Gallese (Juan Aurich), Diego Penny (Sporting Cristal), Salomon Libman (Universidad Cesar Vallejo)

Defenders: Luis Advincula (Vitoria Setubal), Carlos Zambrano (Eintracht Frankfurt), Pedro Requena (Universidad Cesar Vallejo), Hansell Riojas (Universidad Cesar Vallejo), Christian Ramos (Juan Aurich), Yoshimar Yotun (Malmo FF), Jair Cespedes (Juan Aurich)

Midfielders: Josephmir Ballon (Sporting Cristal), Edwin Retamoso (Real Garcilaso), Carlos Lobaton (Sporting Cristal), Carlos Ascues (Melgar), Joel Sanchez (Universidad San Martin), Paolo Hurtado (Pacos de Ferreira), Juan Manuel Vargas (Fiorentina), Christian Cueva (Alianza Lima)

Forwards: Andre Carrillo (Sporting CP), Jefferson Farfan (Schalke 04), Yordy Reyna (Red Bull Leipzig), Paulo Guerrero (Corinthians), Claudio Pizarro (Bayern Munich)



Head Coach: Noel Sanvicente

Captain: Juan Arango

La Vinotinto Desperate to Continue Recent Progress

The strides made by the nation of Venezuela in soccer have been remarkable over the last two decades.

For so long they were perceived as minnows of South American football, but some improvements in the set-up manifested themselves as an exceptional fourth place finish four years ago. That performance was compounded when they beat Argentina in World Cup qualifying not long after.

Can they continue their recent renaissance? As is the case for Peru, it’s going to be difficult up against Brazil and Colombia. The team that performed so well four years ago hasn’t quite pushed on as many expected and Sanvicente has struggled to strike a desirable balance in terms of style and system during his recent tutelage.

While there are players with exciting potential in the squad, there are also some gaping holes. Aside from flashes via veteran skipper Juan Arango, the lack of creativity is a big concern and this team has been very reliant on grabbing goals from set pieces in recent matches. Another area which needs to supplemented is the lack of dynamism in a pedestrian defense.

Middlesbrough’s aging Fernando Amorebieta is still a lynchpin at the back, but his lack of pace has been badly exposed by the better sides Venezuela have encountered. Ensuring he’s not targeted poses a conundrum for Sanvicente, especially given his struggles to find a prosperous blend in the build-up to the Copa.

They’ll have a major challenge getting anything from the matches against Brazil and Colombia, but may fancy their chances against an unprepared Peru. But if they are to make it into the last-eight, Venezuela are the side the top sides will be desperate to face.

Key Player: Salomon Rondon

The Zenit St Petersburg striker is La Vinotinto’s most high profile performer and he’ll spearhead their charge in Chile after a prosperous campaign with the Russian champions.

Rondon is a forward who will need to provide a reliable outlet for his country. In the games against more illustrious opposition they’re likely to come under major pressure, so when the ball is launched forward to him, the forward must use his burly somatotype to keep possession and set his side on the attack. A requirement to be ruthless in front of goal goes without saying.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Alain Baroja, Wuilker Farinez (both Caracas FC), Daniel Hernandez (Tenerife)

Defenders: Gabriel Cichero (Mineros de Guayana), Grenddy Perozo (AC Ajaccio), Andres Tunez (Buriram United), Wilker Angel (Deportivo Tachira), Roberto Rosales (Malaga), Fernando Amorebieta (Middlesbrough), Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (Nantes)

Midfielders: Rafael Acosta (Mineros de Guayana), Alejandro Guerra (Atletico Nacional), Ronald Vargas (Balikesirspor), Franklin Lucena (Deportivo La Guaira), Cesar Gonzalez (Deportivo Tachira), Tomas Rincon (Genoa), Luis Manuel Seijas (Independiente Santa Fe), Juan Arango (Tijuana)

Forwards: Jhon Murillo (Benfica), Gelmin Rivas (Deportivo Tachira), Nicolas Fedor (Rayo Vallecano), Josef Martinez (Torino), Salomon Rondon (Zenit St Petersburg)

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball



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