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Copa América 2024

Rocking the Continent: Copa América 2024

Tournament overview

While the UEFA EURO 2024 tournament has been ongoing for almost a week, it is not the only prestigious national team competition taking place this June and July. For only the second time since its inception in 1916, a total of 16 teams will compete for the Copa América trophy.

All ten registered national federations of CONMEBOL will participate, joined by six teams from CONCACAF, who all qualified via the 2023/24 Nations League tournament.

While the increase in participating teams already reflects a growing appeal of football across the American continent, the event will serve as an insightful test for the interest of more casual North American football fans, just two years before the World Cup.

A crucial KPI of this appetite will be attendance and ticket sales figures, especially considering the diverse nature and locations of the host stadiums within the USA. A total of 14 stadiums will be used to play the 32 matches, averaging 2.28 matches per stadium compared to 5.10 in Euro 2024, covering both the East and West Coasts.

The previous, Centenario edition in the USA boasted an average attendance of 46,370. A potential concern for attendance this time is how highly priced tickets might pose an obstacle to fill the stadiums for all matches.

This year’s edition will kick off with Argentina playing Canada in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia and will conclude on July 14th in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Group stage favourites

It is no surprise that Argentina and Brazil are the two clear favourites based on betting odds before the tournament, however the Copa América is a competition that often surprises. The defending champions, La Albiceleste had to wait almost 30 years to win the trophy again in 2021 since their last triumph. Whether World Cup glory will kickstart a new era for Lionel Scaloni’s squad remains to be seen, as there are major question marks for the near future.

This is confirmed to be the last national team competition for Ángel Di María, while Lionel Messi could also follow suit soon. Additionally, Scaloni’s long-term future is also uncertain.

On the flipside, Argentina boasts exciting talent ready to contribute, headlined by Alejandro Garnacho, Enzo Fernández and Julian Alvárez. If Argentina makes it to the final, Lionel Messi will have the chance to win his second Copa América trophy in the city, where he currently plays club football.

In Group B, we find the reigning CONCACAF Gold Cup champions, Mexico. After a disappointing showing in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup, winning the 2023 Gold Cup was a small step towards regaining their place as a regional heavyweight.

However, this Mexican squad will need to find its new stars as both Raúl Jiménez and Hirving Lozano missed out on the travelling squad.

Instead, it could be Santiago Giménez as the focal point of the Mexican attack, very much supported by a joint team effort from a young squad that is going through a generational shift: the focus is undoubtedly on 2026 and beyond.

The other team favored to advance from this group is Ecuador. After a memorable opening match of the 2022 World Cup against Qatar, Ecuador slightly missed out on progressing from the group stage.

This time, they have another chance to improve the nation’s poor record in major tournaments. Moisés Caicedo and Piero Hincapié are the headliners of the squad, with young talents like Kendry Páez and Willian Pacho also eager to make their mark on the international stage.

In Group C, the hosts, USA, will play against Uruguay, Panama and Bolivia. The USMNT enters the tournament with high hopes following signs of progress (such as winning the 2023/24 CONCACAF Nations League), however it is still a team that needs to prove its capabilities.

With the main objective being a strong World Cup performance in two years, Christian Pulisic, Folarin Balogun, Yunus Musah, Giovanni Reyna and the rest of the USA team now have the chance to test themselves against prime opposition.

The squad has now significant experience in Europe’s top leagues, with 23 of the 26-man roster playing across the ocean. Is it going to be enough to top the group? If not, Brazil could likely await in the quarter-finals.

The first big test will be against Uruguay, who have a joint-record 15 Copa América titles and are in great form. They won six of their first eight games under new coach, Marcelo Bielsa, including back-to-back victories over Brazil and Argentina.

After a slower start of the new calendar year, Uruguay warmed up for the tournament with a 4-0 win against Mexico, including a Darwin Núñez hat-trick. As Luis Suárez approaches the end of his international career (although still being in the Uruguay squad), the Liverpool striker will have the chance to become the new face of La Celeste. He will be supported by one of the tournament’s most valuable squads, including Federico Valverde, Manuel Ugarte, Ronald Araújo, Rodrigo Bentancur and José María Giménez.

Last but not least, Group D features another major title favorite, Brazil. The Seleção are always expected to challenge for the title, though the preparation for this tournament has been marred by issues.

Several key players are injured, including Neymar, Ederson, Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison, while the omission of Casemiro and Thiago Silva is similarly notable.

Additionally, the team lost their last three World Cup qualification matches, and Dorival Júnior, the new coach, will oversee his first competitive international game when Brazil kicks off against Costa Rica on June 25th. Attention is already focused on 17-year-old Endrick, who will have the chance to link up with his Real Madrid teammates, Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo.

Colombia is expected to be Brazil’s main challenger in this group. They are the only remaining undefeated team during the 2026 World Cup qualifying tournament in CONMEBOL, with an impressive 23-match streak without a loss.

This run includes friendly wins against strong teams like Germany, Spain and the USA. Headlined by Luis Díaz, the Colombian squad combines experienced names such as James Rodríguez, Yerry Mina, Davinson Sánchez, and Jefferson Lerma with exciting talents like Jhon Durán and Yáser Asprilla.

Events and talents to look out for

There are several intriguing aspects to watch for during the Copa América competition. The winner of this tournament will face the UEFA Euro 2024 champions in La Finalissima in 2025Can the continent defend its 2022 title, where Argentina comfortably beat Italy?

Lionel Messi has the opportunity to tick another impressive record; with 34 games played, he is currently tied for the most Copa América matches ever played. Once he steps on the pitch in the opening match, he will become the sole leader in this regard.

In a change from tradition, the match balls for this tournament will be provided by Puma for the first time in 20 years, marking a departure from the longstanding partnership with Nike. Additionally, this edition of the Copa América will feature female referees for the first time, adding another historic milestone to the competition.

The Copa América is renowned for showcasing emerging talent from the American continent. Special talents like Alejandro Garnacho and Sávio are already prominently featured in Football Benchmark’s Golden Boy Index, aiming for international superstar status. Others like Darío Osorio and Jhon Durán are poised to become key players for their countries after gaining valuable experience in European football this season. Moreover, the tournament provides a significant platform for players looking to secure moves to Europe in the near future.