The opening fixtures of the 2019 Copa America Group Stage are just days away from kicking off, and already pre-tournament excitement in Brazil and beyond has reached feverishly high levels.
Cities and stadia across the Brazilian expanse are gearing up to host what promises to be an enthralling set of group match fixtures over the next 2 weeks, and supporters are certain to be treated to a festival of South American football between now and the competition’s final on July 7th.
To help you make the most of the 2019 Copa America, we’ve compiled a list of the most compelling Group Stage matches to look forward to.
Check out our selection of standout fixtures below:
Click here to read our Copa America 2019 outright predictions and betting tips with a whopping 25/1 Outsider Tip!
Brazil vs Peru, Arena Corinthians, São Paulo – June 22nd
Brazil and the possibility of a nightmare reimagined
It couldn’t happen again…….could it? Host nation Brazil’s clash with Peru on June 22nd is the final Group A match for the respective teams involved and could prove a defining fixture in the eventual finishing order of the section.
The contest, scheduled to be played at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo, will undoubtedly evoke memories of one of the most harrowing and embarrassing chapters in Brazilian football history.
In last edition of the Copa America competition in 2016, Brazil met Peru in the teams’ final Group B match hoping to cement their place at the top of the section.
However, against all odds, Peru battled their way to a 1-0 victory thanks to a solitary strike from Raúl Ruidíaz with 15 minutes left to play.
The Peruvians held on for the victory that allowed them to simultaneously leapfrog Brazil in the table and eliminate their more illustrious opponents from the competition altogether.
A repeat of that infamous Foxborough faux pas seems unlikely this time around, however, if Brazil need to beat Peru to qualify from Group A on June 22nd, the psychological trauma from 2016 could bubble to the surface.
Bolivia vs Venezuela, Estádio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte – June 22nd
Bolivia out for revenge
It’s been a tough couple of years of Group A combatants Bolivia and Venezuela. The South American underperformers finished last and second last in the continent’s World Cup qualification section in 2017, though the final meeting between the teams during that campaign produced one of the Group’s most remarkable results.
Venezuela hosted Bolivia at the Estadio Monumental de Maturín on 10th November 2016, desperate to end a sequence of 11 matches without a win.
Bolivia were unbeaten in 4 previous meetings with Venezuela ahead of their clash in Monagas, and they were aiming to secure their 3rd win on the spin against their hosts.
However, out of nowhere, Venezuela turned on the style, smashing 5 goals without reply past Carlos Lampe in the Bolivia goal.
Atlanta United star Josef Martinez helped himself to a sensational hattrick to help Venezuela to their biggest ever win against the Bolivians.
With that massacre still relatively fresh in their minds, the Bolivian players will be desperate to restore some pride when the they renew acquaintances with Venezuela on June 22nd.
Argentina vs Paraguay, Estádio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte – June 19th
Argentina looking to strike back
Argentina take on Paraguay in Belo Horizonte in the second round of Copa America Group B fixtures on June 19th, and La Albiceleste’s incentives to win are layered thick.
Alongside their quest for knockout round qualification, Argentina will be aiming to re-establish some order by avenging the 1-0 defeat they suffered to Paraguay the last time the nations clashed in October 2016.
A first half Derlis González strike was enough to win Paraguay 3 points in their World Cup qualification bout with Argentina in Córdoba that evening – a triumph that earned the Paraguayans their first victory against Argentina since 2009.
The win was also Paraguay’s first win on Argentinean soil since their 1-0 friendly win there in 1987, and their first competitive triumph over them since their 3-2 Rosa Chevallier win in Argentina in 1963.
Ecuador vs Chile, Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador – June 21st
The Reinaldo Rueda derby
Ecuador’s meeting with Chile on Match Day 2 in Group C on June 21st could well prove to be a pivotal fixture in the section, and the game is glazed with an extra layer of intrigue thanks to the involvement of Reinaldo Rueda.
The experienced 62-year old coach is Chile’s current manager having taken the country’s top job in January 2018. Rueda had been at Brazilian club Flamengo before returning to the international scene, guiding the Rio de Janeiro giants to Brazilian Cup and Copa Sudamericana Finals during his time there.
However earlier in his career, Rueda also had a lengthy stint at Chile’s Group C rivals Ecuador between 2010 and 2014, guiding the nation to World Cup Finals qualification for only the 3rd time in the country’s history.
Rueda enjoys hero status in Ecuador for his achievements with the team 5 years ago, though there is every chance that his reputation could plummet if he becomes the architect of their demise with Chile.
Chile vs Uruguay, Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro– June 24th
Showpiece Group Game with a La Liga edge
Chile’s tussle with Uruguay in the final round of Group C fixtures on June 24th is expected to be a two-way battle for top spot between the strongest teams involved in the section.
The skirmish between current Copa America champions and 2-time winners Chile and the tournament’s most successful nation Uruguay (15 titles) is one of the most glamorous head-to-heads across the entire Group Stage, and the outcome of the contest is sure to be heavily influenced by the swathe of talented players currently plying their club football trade in Spain’s La Liga.
Uruguay’s defence will be anchored by Atletico Madrid pair José Giménez and Diego Godín, while Barcelona’s Luis Suárez, Girona’s Cristhian Stuani, Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde and Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gómez will hope to influence matters further up the pitch.
For Chile, Barcelona star Arturo Vidal will patrol central areas, with Alaves defender Guillermo Maripán deployed just behind him, while ex-Barcelona employee Alexis Sanchez will hope to put his poor club form behind him on the international stage.
Chile’s meeting with Uruguay pits a clutch of high-calibre players against each other in a series of mouth-watering individual duels, marking the fixture out as one of the captivating games in the Copa America’s early rounds.
Remember, we’ll be covering the entire Copa America campaign over on our match preview section.