Coming off the heels of World Cup Qualifiers, South America’s best will now focus on CONMEBOL’s bragging rights. The Copa America tournament will now be played in Brazil after both Colombia (civil unrest) and Argentina (COVID) declined to host the soccer tournament as originally planned. With Euro 2020 going on at the same time, there won’t be a shortage of soccer on the TV this June. You can watch the 2021 Copa America on Sling with FOX (in select markets), FS1, and FS2 by signing up for Sling Blue + Sports Extras using the link at the bottom of this page. Here are the tournament's biggest storylines.
Can Messi deliver a trophy to Argentina?
Lionel Messi has secured just about every honor it's possible to win as a soccer player. Many would argue that he’s the greatest player ever, but to those who say he is not, the main criticism is that La Pulga has yet to win any silverware for his home country of Argentina. The magisterial man has gone to four finals for the Albiceleste, losing in three Copa Americas and a World Cup. Is this the year that Messi finally leads his country to the promised land? I wouldn’t bet on it. Argentina are coming off two disappointing draws in World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Colombia. Argentina's problem is neither new nor complicated: Messi simply cannot do it all on his own. Players like Lautaro Martínez, Giovani Lo Celso, and Angel Di Maria must step up. If they do, the team could author quite the story: finally bringing Argentina a trophy in the first major tournament after Diego Maradona’s death.
To no one’s surprise, Brazil are leading the charge as favorites for Copa America. The defending champions (and now host country) will have a solid squad, which includes Neymar, Vincicius Jr, Thiago Silva and Casemiro. Players have voiced their opposition to Brazil hosting the tournament while the country is getting decimated by COVID-19, and some thought they wouldn’t participate in the tournament (the federation has squashed those rumors). Despite all of the drama in the Selecao camp, they still have the most complete squad in the tournament. Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Chile are the most likely to compete with Brazil. Uruguay will lean on the aging Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin, while Chile will look to find the magic that has won them two of the last three Copas. Colombia are coming off a thrilling 2-2 tie with Argentina after being down 2-0. James Rodriguez's availability is in question for Los Cafeteros but they have the experience to challenge anyone.
Looking at the longshots for Copa America, one can’t help but wonder what has happened to Peru. After qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, La Blanquirroja became one of the darlings of the 2018 tournament, despite not making it out of the group stage. Now in last place in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying, they look like a shell of themselves. A team to look out for is Ecuador, a pacy team that has shown promise in World Cup Qualifiers. Despite losing their last two matches, they remain in 3rd place and have wins over Uruguay and Colombia. They can hang with anyone and if the ball bounces their way, they might be able to make a run.
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Group stage schedule (all kick off times ET)
Sunday, June 13
5pm: Brazil v. Venezuela (FOX*)
8pm: Colombia v. Ecuador (FS2)
Monday, June 14
5pm: Argentina v. Chile (FS1)
8pm: Paraguay v. Bolivia (FS1)
Thursday, June 17
5pm: Colombia v. Venezuela (FS1)
8pm: Brazil v. Peru (FS1)
Friday, June 18
5pm: Chile v. Bolivia (FS1)
8pm: Argentina v. Uruguay (FS2)
Sunday, June 20
5pm: Venezuela v. Ecuador (FOX*)
8pm: Colombia v. Peru (FS1)
Monday, June 21
5pm: Uruguay v. Chile (FS1)
8pm: Argentina v. Paraguay (FS1)
Wednesday, June 23
5pm: Ecuador v. Peru (FS1)
8pm: Brazil v. Colombia (FS1)
Thursday, June 24
5pm: Bolivia v. Uruguay (FS1)
8pm: Chile v. Paraguay (FS1)
Sunday, June 27
5pm: Brazil v. Ecuador (FOX*)
5pm: Venezuela v. Peru (FS2)
Monday, June 28
8pm: Uruguay v. Paraguay (FS1)
8pm: Bolivia v. Argentina (FS2)
*Available in select markets. Click here for more information on how to watch locals on Sling
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