Initially Suarez-less Uruguay still the value Copa America call

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It does feel a little odd to see the Copa America so abruptly breaking its four-year cycle only a year after the last edition and clashing with its European equivalent competition as a result. However, punters should be left rejoicing at a double helping of tournament football this summer.

For one year only, the expanded 2016 centenary edition of CONMEBOL’s flagship tournament encompasses six teams from FIFA’s CONCACAF region, including the United States of America, who become the first non-South American country to host the Copa America.

What’s not to like about this bonus event, even if a tiny bit of Euro 2016’s sheen is smudged off?

The Copa America kicks off a week earlier though, on June 3, and finishes almost a fortnight before the Euros showpiece on July 10.

In short, there is plenty for all to see, especially those willing to stay up to the small hours to witness the action from across the pond.

Kick-offs vary from the respectable-ish time of 22:00 GMT (east coast) to the altogether less sociable hour of 03.00, for those evening matches staged on America’s west coast.

Our customers won’t miss a beat regardless, with every game covered by a plethora of markets and of course the outright betting throughout.

On that note, the ante-post tournament odds make for very interesting reading indeed.

Having only been beaten to World Cup glory two summers ago by virtue of that extra-time goal, and then to the 2015 Copa America title by Chile on penalties just 12 months on, Argentina are deemed understandable 15/8 favourites.

While plenty will flock to Lionel Messi and co, it’s the country whose record number of titles Argentina could match in the USA, that get our nod of approval.

Uruguay, 15-time Copa America champs, with the last of those coming in 2011, look positively whopping at 9/1, behind Brazil, Chile and the hosts USA.

It’s not only this unrivalled pedigree that marks the Uruguayans out however. A glance at the CONMEBOL standings for World Cup 2018 qualification is also quite enlightening.

Uruguay head South American qualification after six games, picking up four wins and two more points than Argentina at this stage.

Overall, much could hinge on the fitness of leading striker Luis Suarez following a hamstring injury in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey final with Sevilla.

Suarez has been named in the Uruguayan party for the Copa America, although reports have been mixed over when he will be passed fit to feature. The consensus is that he will play some part in the knockout rounds, assuming Uruguay make it that far.

Their group isn’t the easiest, featuring last year’s Gold Cup winners Jamaica and a Mexico team on an eight-game victory sequence. Venezuela make up the quartet, but they have triumphed in just one of their last 15 outings.

Suarez’s record for Uruguay may be 45 goals in 85 caps, but Oscar Tabarez can still call on the likes of Edinson Cavani, who has outscored the Barcelona man in his nation’s last three matches.

If Cavani can fire Uruguay through the group phase, the stage will be set for Suarez to make his big introduction in the knockouts.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.