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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Copa America Picks 2016 (June 11-14)

Copa America Group Stage Update
The final round of Group games in the Copa America will be played in the next few days and some of the Quarter Finalists have already been decided. Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina will make up half of the last eight and the remaining four teams will earn their places in the coming days.

There are some big games in this round of games as those places are decided. The USA play Paraguay and Chile play Panama with the winning teams making it through to the last eight and both should be very interesting games to watch.

Group B is the most open with three teams fighting for two places in the Quarter Finals, although Ecuador failing to beat Haiti in the early game will allow Brazil and Peru to move through. However, an Ecuador win will mean Peru are likely going to have to beat Brazil if they are going to get through which would make the last game in the Group very, very intriguing.

At the moment Argentina remain strong favourites to win the Copa America with two impressive wins behind them and the attacking talent to give anyone problems. The big question will always be if Argentina can hold themselves together from an emotional stand point having lost the World Cup Final in 2014 and the Copa America Final in 2015.

Saturday 11th June
Group A will come to a close on Saturday and the first match between the USA and Paraguay looks to be the one where most of the attention will be turned towards.

USA v Paraguay PickThere really isn't a lot to say about this match as the Group A of the Copa America is concluded on Saturday.

The United States will make it through to the Quarter Final if they avoid defeat, while Paraguay will likely have enough to do the same if they win this game. With a 4-0 defeat to their name, it would take something special for Costa Rica to get involved in the second place finish so this looks a straight fight between the United States and Paraguay.

The travelling that Paraguay have endured over the last ten days is tiring and I do wonder if that will take it out of them as they chase this game. The pressure is on Paraguay to get the goals they need to progress to the Quarter Final and that might see the United States get into a position to pick them off late on.

Jurgen Klinsmann will likely look for his team to defend properly and use the counter attack to their advantage. That should lead to late chances as Paraguay try and score the winning goal and I will back the United States to win and move into the Quarter Final.

Colombia v Costa Rica Pick: This looked a very difficult Group from which to pick two Quarter Finalists, but Colombia won their first two games and have comfortably moved into the last eight. There will likely be changes to their starting eleven as they employ the squad and rest some of the star players, but I still believe they will be too strong for Costa Rica.

I am not sure how high the Costa Rica motivation will be considering they are out of the tournament after their 4-0 loss at the hands of the United States. Technically a draw in the other game will keep Costa Rica alive, but the goal difference is a huge blow and unlikely to be overturned in this one game.

If they are out of the tournament, I am not sure Costa Rica will be that interested in this game and that may allow Colombia to dictate things.

I even think a second string team might have a little too much for Costa Rica who have struggled for goals in the tournament. I think that is enough to think a small interest in Colombia winning with a clean sheet is the best way to manage this game.

Sunday 12th June
Group B was the most open Group left in the Copa America as we get through to the final round of games. The Quarter Final opponents have been set with the winner of the Group facing Colombia in the next Round and the Runners Up taking on the hosts USA.

Ecuador are up first and failing to win will mean Brazil and Peru are through to the Quarter Finals before their game, but a win for Ecuador by more than a single goal will put them through to the last eight. In that case it will be Brazil moving through if they avoid defeat and Peru needing to win to upset one of the favourites.

Ecuador v Haiti Pick: There is so much on the line for Ecuador and that has seen the layers shrink the margins on them winning this game. They look very short, but Haiti are one of the weaker teams in the tournament and it is hard to find an angle for this one.

Brazil v Peru Pick: An opening 0-0 draw with Ecuador was not well received by the Brazilian fans, but their team bounced back with a 7-1 hammering of Haiti in their second game. That results means they will be through if they can earn a point in this one and that is regardless of the Ecuador performance in the earlier game.

Playing for a draw is not really the way Brazil approach games even with the pragmatic Dunga in the managerial seat. Dunga was not the flashiest player in his days, but he can't afford for Brazil to fail to impress with the pressure beginning to build on him after a poor last twelve months.

The Copa America might be taking second place in priorities behind the Olympic Games, but Brazil will still be expected to have an impact in the tournament. A potential Quarter Final with Colombia looks a tough one, but for now Brazil should have too much for a Peru team who perhaps were fortunate to earn a 2-2 draw with Ecuador in their last game.

That result means Peru will likely need a win in this game as Ecuador should have enough to surpass the one goal by which Peru beat Haiti and overtake Peru on goal difference even if they can manage a draw in this match. I expect that to open things up in this match as both teams will likely leave plenty of spaces if they are chasing the game and both have looked vulnerable defensively at times.

Last year they met in the Group Stage of the Copa America and Brazil were 2-1 winners and the last three games have featured at least three goals being shared out. With the Quarter Final place up for grabs, I can see one of the teams needing to chase and that resulting in at least three goals to be scored in the match.

Monday 13th June
It is time for Group C to be decided between Mexico and Venezuela as both teams have already moved in the Quarter Finals behind two wins from two games. That has seen Uruguay, surprisingly, and Jamaica, unsurprisingly out of the Copa America.

Mexico v Venezuela Pick: The winners of Group C, and avoiding Argentina, will be decided on Monday as Mexico take on Venezuela. With an out of sorts Chile looking most likely to finish second, there is a real motivation to win the Group and Mexico have the edge as they can avoid defeat to finish above Venezuela.

With a strong defensive record in recent games, Mexico have to be thinking they have enough to keep Venezuela from getting on the scoreboard. I have to say that Venezuela have been a little fortunate to have two wins from two in the Group and Mexico have looked a much better side than them, but the confidence in the Venezuela squad has to be in a very good place at this moment in time.

They are still one of the poorer teams from South America though and I don't think Venezuela will be able to keep Mexico at bay in this one. Ten man Jamaica gave Venezuela plenty to think about and the feeling is that Mexico will catch them if they have to push on later in the match in a bid to avoid Argentina in the Quarter Final.

The Mexicans have a very strong record against Venezuela with nines win from the last eleven games against them, and I like them to win this one with a clean sheet.

Uruguay v Jamaica Pick: Luis Suarez was visibly upset that he wasn't able to anything to aid his country in their 0-1 loss to Venezuela which put Uruguay out of the tournament. It is unlikely he will be risked in this 'dead rubber' but I still think the South American nation can end their Copa America with a win under their belt.

They are up against a Jamaica team who have also been eliminated and who have lost all five games they have played in the Copa America in 2015 and 2016. Jamaica have not scored in any of those games either and I am not sure how much motivation is left with the tournament already at a close.

You can easily say the same when it comes to Uruguay, but I think there is more quality at their disposal and look to be worth backing to win with a clean sheet. I would keep stakes to a minimum though with neither team having much to play for, but Uruguay have the firepower to earn a narrow win against a Jamaica team that haven't been able to bridge the gap to the extra quality in the Copa America over the last twelve months.

Tuesday 14th June
The final Group will put together the final two Quarter Final matches as Chile look to avoid a surprise exit of the Copa America in the Group Stage just twelve months after winning the competition at home.

Chile v Panama Pick: A controversial penalty deep into injury time helped Chile beat Bolivia and get into a position where a draw on Tuesday should be enough to see them through to the Quarter Final. That luxury may be all important for Chile who have looked like they are struggling to pick up their play so far in this tournament and have been a little short of ideas in the final third.

They should have more room in this one as Panama will have to win if they are going to follow Argentina through to the last eight. That means there is going to be times when they perhaps push forward and leave spaces behind them, while Panama have also had to play for a long period with ten men in the loss to Argentina which will have tired out some legs.

Panama did survive for a while until Lionel Messi took the game over, but they will have physical issues if they are chasing this game. They also have the longer journey to make between games two and three compared with Chile and I think there is enough quality in the Chile team to hit Panama on the counter and get over this Asian Handicap.

With the quality in their ranks, Chile will expect to at least match the Brazil 2-0 win over Panama in the friendly games prior to the Copa America. As there is more onus on Panama to get forward, this looks like being a game where Chile can perhaps finish the contest late on.

Argentina v Bolivia Pick: Argentina have beaten Chile and Panama in their first couple of games and underlined their status as favourites to win the Copa America in the process of doing that. Now they are looking to confirm their place in the Quarter Finals as Group winners and then push on to the rest of the tournament.

They have looked far too good for the three teams in the Group and I think it will be tough for Bolivia to pick themselves up from a really disappointing defeat to Chile. They must be feeling hard done by as Bolivia had a penalty controversially given against them in injury time in that loss which put them out of the tournament and now they have little to play for.

It is going to be difficult for Bolivia having played their last game on the East Coast in New England and now travelling to the Seattle on the West Coast to close their tournament. There will likely be changes to the Argentina team with top spot close to being assured through the first two games, but this is a team with plenty of depth and Bolivia can't rely on that to help them to a surprise result.

Personally I can't see that happening and I don't think Argentina will take their eye off the prize just yet. While it will be tougher for them as the tournament goes on, this is the time Argentina can keep the fans believing with a fourth straight win over Bolivia. The previous three have come with clean sheets and it took a very late goal from Chile to prevent Argentina having back to back clean sheets in the Group Stage.

I think Bolivia will need a special moment to score their goal here and I will back Argentina to win with a clean sheet.

MY PICKS: USA to Win @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Colombia Win to Nil @ 2.63 Coral (1 Unit)
Brazil-Peru Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.85 Coral (2 Units)
Mexico Win to Nil @ 2.70 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Uruguay Win to Nil @ 2.75 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Chile - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.90 Bet365 (2 Units)
Argentina Win to Nil @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Copa America Match Day 3 Update: 4-3, + 3.21 Units
Copa America Match Day 2 Final: 4-4, - 0.36 Units
Copa America Match Day 1 Final: 3-5, + 0.60 Units

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