The 2011 Copa America was filled full of surprises as Champions Uruguay led the way with nine goals scored and third placed Peru were second in those stakes with eight. A notable feature of the tournament – which had just 54 goals, 32 less than the 2007 edition when three teams had more than 10 goals – was the poor pitch condition, especially in La Plata, which drew the criticisms of Xavi as Argentina were knocked out in the quarter finals, and the underperformance of the favourites Argentina and Brazil, who won their final group game before exiting at the quarter final stage.
There is reason to expect much better from those two sides this time round, and Argentina are backed to atone for their disappointment in this market at the World Cup, when scoring just eight goals in their seven games for the whole tournament.
That came despite what many felt would be an easy group – it looked it on paper – but we have more data on our side for their Copa America matchups and the signs look good for them scoring plenty during this Copa.
Gerardo Martino’s side scored 5 goals in their qualifying matches against Uruguay during World Cup qualifying and have 12 goals in their last three matches against Paraguay, while they will be hoping to brush aside tournament debutants Jamaica. The balance of the side should be far better than in 2011, when an attempt to play without a true striker and Messi as a false nine did not work, and this was also hampered by a rough playing surface in La Plata. Assuming they win Group B (3/10 to do so) then they will have the third place from either Group A/C, leaving the bit hitters until the last four if all goes to plan.
With Messi allowed to play in his best role, Sergio Augero and Gonzalo Higuain having had fine seasons and Carlos Tevez back in the side, there is no limit on their firepower if set up correctly and Gerardo Martino has had about a year to work with the side so it’s to be hoped that we an see the best of what they have to offer going forward.
While on the subject of Group B, the Argentina/Uruguay straight forecast looks worth chancing at 13/10. The loss of Luis Suarez is a blow for the Champions but in Edison Cavani they have a lethal striker to replace him and crucially, should be as hard to break down as ever when other teams – debutants Jamaica and Paraguay, who didn’t win a game in reaching the 2011 final and finished third in their group.
Group C, with Brazil and Colombia, is the favourite at 11/10 with Skybet to be the highest scoring group but that looks a risky bet based on reputation. The last four games between the two have produced just five goals in general while Venzeula conceded just 20 goals in World Cup qualifying, including in a 1-0 defeat of Colombia.
With enough on Colombia and Brazil as it is, that group looks best left and Group B may be the way to go with Argentina boasting strong recent scoring records against Paraguay although there could be a couple of mismatches in Group A (11/4).
3 pts Argentina highest scoring team (6/4 Ladbrokes)
2 pts Argentina/Uruguay Group B straight forecast (13/10 Sportingbet)
2 pts Most goals in Group B (11/8 Skybet)