This summer brings two of the best international soccer competitions, the Euros and the Copa America. One encompasses Europe and the member nations of UEFA. The other tends to focus on just South America and the representatives from CONMEBOL with select other guests joining. The 2024 Copa America does not follow that trend, as a record 16 teams compete, meaning six come from North America. It is a true edition of a tournament involving the top teams from the Americas.

Despite that, the talent on display with a more widespread variety of teams makes the Euros the more enjoyable of the two tournaments, at least for a neutral viewer. The Copa America has some things that Europe struggles to match. For example, the physical battle in South America, highlighted by the frequent matchups between each of these nations, works as one of the Copa America’s biggest selling points. Yet, the parity involved in the widespread ability of the players in Europe makes it more resemble a cup competition in the sense that it is hard to predict who advances.

That comes from several factors. European players often face one another or even play on the same club teams. The concentration of European players in Europe makes them play more frequently, and thus they have a better understanding of one another’s game. Take the England national team as an example. Regardless of the side that Gareth Southgate selects, only two or three players will come from outside the Premier League. Those are Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham, with a potential Jordan Henderson in the mix. By comparison, the most recent Argentina national team squad featured players from seven different countries, and that is likely to go up in the Copa America.

This discrepancy in the spread of players does not directly yield success. However, it is worth considering regarding quickly coming together to compete on an international stage.

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Flair vs drama in Copa America and Euros

If Brazil and Argentina are always two of the biggest draws for any international competition, then why does the Copa America not bring as much excitement? The Copa America will come down to three or four teams. Having 16 teams affords more parity, as the unknowns become more common at the Euros since the number of teams increased to 24.

Still, the quality of nations like Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, or Colombia outmatches countries like Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, or even strong Venezuela or Ecuador sides. Even though bringing in six nations from North America and the Caribbean is a good move, it does not change the favorites. The United States or Mexico would be candidates to pull off an upset in the group stage or knockout stage. Yet, either of those sides would be hard-pressed to pull off ‘consistent’ enough results to unseat one of the South American powers.

Compare that to the European Championship. There are favorites to win the competition, yes. But it is more widespread. One could make a case for as many as eight teams to win the Euros. England, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands all have a history of international success. Moreover, a casual fan would have no problem identifying several marquee players on each team. Star power is something that the Copa America has going for it. Lionel Messi, Vinicius Junior, and Luis Diaz are phenomenal players for Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. However, the European Championship can match those talents and then some.

More games: More enjoyment?

Eight more teams are competing in the Euros than the Copa America. That means two additional groups of four and an added round of knockout games. One of the criticisms of the 2016 expansion in the Euros was that it watered down the competition. Portugal was the eventual champion of the tournament. It drew each of its group-stage games, advancing as the third-best third-place team in the tournament. Portugal won a singular game in the regular 90 minutes en route to the final.

Yet, having a total of 51 games at the tournament has provided great moments in the last two competitions. Iceland reached the quarterfinals in 2016 as Wales punched its way to the semifinals. Switzerland eliminated France in the round of 16 at Euro 2020. That followed drama in the last matchday as Denmark squeaked through, a nation that eventually reached the semifinal.

The Copa America with four more teams than normal, could have similar results. Yet, the unpredictable nature of a massive European Championship is sure to produce drama. Plus, the top talents play in effectively every game.


Euro 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Euros!
Euro Bracket: Download a free PDF bracket for the tournament
Euro 2024 Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Euro games live in 2024
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer