Copa America Centernario will offer plenty of excitement and we are in for a high-profile match straight from the start with Brazil going head to head with Ecuador in their Group B opener.
No Neymar, no problem?
Seen as the favourites to progress in the knockouts and fight for the competition’s title, Brazil are getting ready for their Copa America Centenario challenge without star player Neymar. Barcelona forward and Brazil captain Neymar has passed up the chance to have a pop at the continental championship in order to rest for the upcoming Rio Summer Olympics. The Selecao are in no shortage of star players however with Brazil head coach Dunga ready to unleash Coutinho, Hulk, WIllian, Luis Gustavo and Casemiro who are all expected to lead the way. Fans will be delighted to see Ricardo Kaka, who will be there to provide precious experience in this young squad consisting of 14 players with less than 10 caps for Brazil on their tally. Brazil have a busy summer ahead of them as they need to win at least one of the two competitions (Copa America or Summer Olympics) in order to finally put the 2014 FIFA World Cup disappointment behind them.
In addition to Neymar, Dunga will be without David Luis, Thiago Silva and Oscar for the tournament who did not make the cut. Bayern Munich star Douglas Costa picked up an injury just before the start of the competition and was forced out of the squad.
Ecuador looking for a surprise
With Brazil named as firm favourites to win the group, Ecuador are also expected to advance before Haiti and Peru who are the longshots in this company. Head coach Gustavo Quinteros’ side is looking stronger than it has in quite some time and the team will be keen to pull off a surprise at the beginning of the competition as they look to stun much favoured Brazil. Ecuador’s last season disappointing group stage exit has put a great deal of pressure on Quinteros’ men and the game against Brazil could be a huge morale boost for the team loaded with plenty of attacking talent. Bannered by Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia and Swansea’s Jefferson Montero, Ecuador also boast West Ham’s Enner Valencia and Gremio’s Miler Bolanos. Felipe Caicedo’s absence could be a big blow as the World Cup qualifying leading scorer is ruled out through injury, but Ecuador has plenty of talent in stock to make up for it.
Felipe Caicedo is the only unavailable and out of contention for the first match of Copa America Centenario group stage.
Brazil are facing a difficult challenge at the beginning of this year’s edition of Copa America. Ecuador are going out there to prove they are no pushovers and it will be up to Dunga’s men to make their case and assert their intention of going all the way to the final in this competition.
Top pick: Brazil 1.95 (19/20) @BetVictor
Alternative pick 1: Brazil / Brazil 3.30 (23/10) @Coral
Alternative pick 2: Both teams to score – yes 1.95 (19/20) @WilliamHill