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Copa America Preview: Group C

The 2015 Copa America kicks off on Thursday in Chile. Lionel Messi and Argentina are the obvious pre-tournament favorites, but don’t count out Brazil as they look to win their third Copa America since 2004 and get revenge for the way they crashed out in the World Cup last summer.

Here’s a preview of Group C that is made up of Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela.

Brazil:

The Brazilian spirit was broken during the World Cup as they were destroyed by Germany 7-1 and then fell to the Netherlands 3-0. Breaking down defensively like that in front of your fans as the host nation of a World Cup is a tough pill to swallow. Legendary Brazilian player Dunga is back for a second stint as the national team coach, and hopefully his team can come together and prove to the world that Brazil is back.

There are several new faces in Dunga’s squad that are set to make their major tournament debut. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool),  Felipe Anderson (Lazio), and Casemiro (Porto) all have the ability to put a new face on the team and they all had successful seasons with their clubs. Anderson had a breakout season with Lazio which has sparked a lot of rumors that he might be on his way to a bigger club. Casemiro has impressed so much for Porto while on loan from Real Madrid that Real is going to pay Porto not to use their buyout option on the 23-year-old midfielder.

The biggest superstar on the team is obviously Barcelona striker Neymar. With 10 goals in the Champions League, he tied with teammate Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo for the Golden Boot of the tournament. Add 22 league goals to the mix and you can see why Neymar is vital to the national team.

The Brazilian squad is full of stars, with the majority playing for big clubs in Europe. The only potential weak link in this side is on the goalkeeping front. Jefferson is the only goalkeeper in the team that has played with the national team before and he only has 16 caps.

Squad:

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

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

Midfielders: Elias (Corinthians), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Casemiro (Porto), 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)

Colombia:

The Colombians charmed a lot of people during the World Cup last year. They made it to the quarterfinals and pushed Brazil in a tight 2-1 game. James Rodriguez got his breakthrough on the world stage and his performances landed him in Real Madrid. Rodriguez is the big star of the team and in 29 appearances for Real Madrid this season he scored 13 goals from his attacking midfield position.

Falcao is the other star name on the roster, but the striker had a disappointing loan spell with Manchester United this season. Despite his poor performance he is rumored to be on his way to Chelsea on another loan deal as Monaco can’t afford his salary. Falcao is surely hungry to score some goals again and prove that he still has what it takes, and it wasn’t long ago that he was considered to be one of the best strikers in the world.

Another player that’s out to prove himself is Juan Cuadrado who had very limited playing time for Chelsea in the Premier League this season. The midfielder had a very good showing during the World Cup. The Colombians could give Brazil a real fight for the top spot in the group.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Cristian Bonilla (Equidad), David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (Atlético 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: Edwin Cardona (Monterrey), Juan Cuadrado (Chelsea), Alexander Mejia (Monterrey), James Rodríguez (Real Madrid), Carlos Sanchez (Aston Villa), Edwin Valencia (Santos)

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

Peru:

There’s plenty of veterans with a lot of experience in the Peruvian side, so don’t count them out right away. 10 out the 23 players have over 30 appearances for the national team. Among the strikers you have three names that stands out a bit above the rest in Claudio Pizzarro (Bayern Munich) with 19 goals in 77 caps, Jefferson Farfan (Schalke 04) with 18 goals in 65 caps, and Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) with 21 goals in 57 caps. Guerrero will be the go-to-guy for the goals in this tournament.

Juan Manuel Vargas is the brightest shining star in the team, as the Fiorentina midfielder has been the target for bigger clubs for a long time now. He will be instrumental in any success that Peru will have.

The team has a good mix between players plying their trade in Europe and in South America. The back four has played a lot together, and in net there are some questions marks with Diego Penny (Sporting Cristal) being the most experienced with 14 caps.

Squad:

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

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

Midfielders: Josepmir Ballon (Sporting Cristal), Edwin Retamoso (Real Garcilaso), Carlos Lobaton (Sporting Cristal), Carlos Ascues (Melgar), Joel Sanchez (Universidad San Martín de Porres), Paolo Hurtado (Pacos de Ferreira), Juan Manuel Vargas (Fiorentina), Christian Cueva (Alianza Lima), Cristian Benavente (Real Madrid Castilla), Paulo Albarracin (Alianza Lima).

Forwards: Andre Carrillo (Sporting CP), Jefferson Farfan (Schalke), Paolo Guerrero (Corinthians), Claudio Pizarro (Bayern Munich), Yordy Reyna (RB Leipzig)

Venezuela:

Venezuela has taken big strides in the development of the national team, but on paper they are the weakest side in the group.

Veteran midfielder Juan Arango (Tijuana) has a wealth of experience with his 124 appearances for the national team, but there’s concern that there’s not enough creativity in the middle for Venezuela and that they have to rely heavily on scoring from set pieces.

Salomon Rondon (Zenit) scored 13 league goals for the Russian Premier League champions and tied for second in the scoring race. He will be looking to keep up his nice run of form.

Squad:

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

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

Midfielders: Josepmir Ballon (Sporting Cristal), Edwin Retamoso (Real Garcilaso), Carlos Lobaton (Sporting Cristal), Carlos Ascues (Melgar), Joel Sanchez (Universidad San Martín de Porres), Paolo Hurtado (Pacos de Ferreira), Juan Manuel Vargas (Fiorentina), Christian Cueva (Alianza Lima), Cristian Benavente (Real Madrid Castilla), Paulo Albarracin (Alianza Lima).

Forwards: Andre Carrillo (Sporting CP), Jefferson Farfan (Schalke), Paolo Guerrero (Corinthians), Claudio Pizarro (Bayern Munich), Yordy Reyna (RB Leipzig)

Group C schedule:

June 14: Colombia vs. Venezuela

June 14: Brazil vs. Peru

June 17: Brazil vs. Colombia

June 18: Peru vs. Venezuela

June 21: Colombia vs. Peru

June 21: Brazil vs. Venezuela

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