Copa America 2016 Centenario Predictions - James Rodriguez, Colombia Should Dominate USA, Costa Rica & Paraguay
The Copa America Centenario gets underway in just a few weeks and will feature the best teams from Latin America and North America.
Group A is an intriguing situation featuring the U.S. against a few teams that are primed to give it some big trouble in the group round. Will the home team emerge from this tricky situation?
The U.S. is not a favorite
The U.S. squad could look very similar to the 2014 World Cup, possibly representing a final hurrah for this group of people.
Tim Howard may recover his stop as the top goalie despite a down season and some struggles in recent years while Brad Guzan could just as easily take it back.
Defense is always a concern for the Americans but it is likely that John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, Omar Gonzalez and Ventura Alvarado are in the mix for this team. Still not a steady backline considering the competition but still some promise.
The U.S.'s attack will likely look similar to years past with Michael Bradley leading the way alongside Kyle Beckerman. On attack, Clint Dempsey will be the main man despite a subpar season in Seattle with only 12 goals in 23 games.
Colombia and Paraguay Are the Favorites
But the U.S. will have to contend with Colombia and Paraguay, two South American sides on the rise.
The former has the talents of James Rodriguez leading the attack. The Colombian superstar has had a rough year after failing mightily in the Copa America last summer. He looks to be out of Madrid this summer and could push up his price with a terrific showing in this tournament. Rodriguez and Colombia have a varied attacking style, drifting well from a possession based game to an explosive counter attacking one. The latter is their most effective but the team has the talent in the middle to execute a solid 4-2-3-1 formaiton. Carlos Bacca and Adrian Ramos will be the attackers of choice in this formation which could also settle into an equally troubling 4-4-2 for the opposition.
Paraguay is a solid side as well with nine points from six games in World Cup qualifying. The team has managed to go toe-to-toe with such giants as Brazil and Argentina, showing off solid defending and potent offense. The team had a tremendous Copa America a year ago and could be the favorite to run away with the group if everything falls into place in the opening match.
Could Keylor Navas Surprise with Costa Rica?
But Costa Rica should never be overlooked. Keylor Navas might be a top-three goalie right now and the rest of the team knows how to take down the Americans in tight matches.
Best Player in the Group
There is no doubt that Rodriguez is the man that can determine this group on his own. If he plays at his creative best, then Colombia should breeze through the group. Still only 24, this player is entering his prime and there is no telling how powerful he can be with the chip he will inevitably have on his shoulder.
Colombia wins the group with seven points, drawing Paraguay. Paraguay finishes second with five points while the Americans finish with four and Costa Rica gets nothing out of the entire tournament.