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Copa America 2024 Week 1 Predictions Including Mexico vs Jamaica

Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates during Copa America contest

8 years after CONMEBOL’s national team competition Copa America played an expanded anniversary tournament in the United States, including teams from North and Central America’s CONCACAF region, that format returns with the best teams of CONCACAF joining all of the South American CONMEBOL members in 2024’s Copa America, played across the United States, using many of the same venues that will host World Cup 2026 matches. Lionel Messi’s Argentina are the current cup holders, winning the last Copa America and then following it up with their third World Cup. Rivals like Brazil, Uruguay, and Colombia have their sights set on glory, while the powerhouses of North America, Mexico and the United States look to spoil the fiesta. Here is your look at the first four group stage matches of Copa America 2024.

Argentina vs Canada (Thursday in Atlanta)

Ben Gray: Defending champions Argentina are in action on the opening night of Copa América, widely-expected to start the defence of their trophy with a victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

La Albiceleste come into this competition following five successive victories, most-recently hammering Guatemala 4-1 in Landover, Maryland in their final warm-up friendly.

In terms of competitive fixtures, Lionel Scaloni’s side have lost only two of their last 39, dating back to July 2019, hence why they’re the current holders of the Finalissima, Copa América and World Cup trophies, looking good as they aim to add more silverware this summer.

Canada meantime will make their Copa América debut, becoming the tenth non-CONMEBOL side to feature, having beaten Trinidad & Tobago 2-0 in March’s play-in game; Cyle Larin and Jacob Shaffelburg the scorers in Frisco, Texas.

Since, les Rouges have unveiled Jesse Marsch as their new head coach, making a mixed start in friendlies earlier this month, smashed 4-0 by Netherlands at De Kuip before, three days later, holding France to a very credible goalless draw in Bordeaux.

As World Cup co-hosts, this competition is key preparation with two years to go for the Canucks, who will certainly be hoping to be more competitive than they were in Qatar, losing all three games as they ended their 36-year World Cup exile.

These two nations have only ever met once before, this a friendly at El Monumental in 2010, with Argentina 5-0 winners back then.

While this clash in Atlanta, Georgia isn’t likely to be as one-sided, we can’t see beyond a victory for the World Champions. Prediction: Argentina 2 Canada 0

Steen Kirby: Since their last Copa America title, Argentina’s captain and global superstar Lionel Messi has brought his talents to the United States, where he is now a star in MLS for Inter Miami, American fans have grown more familiar with Messi since he plays in the domestic league, and perhaps soon they will grow more familiar with his teammates, as veterans like Angel Di Maria will go one more time for glory, in a side that is not drastically different from the one that lifted the World Cup in Qatar. Their first match will be against the rising CONCACAF side Canada, a team of first, second, and third generation immigrants from diverse backgrounds who will be (co-hosts) of the World Cup in two years. Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies is the captain, FC Porto’s Stephen Eustáquio is in the midfield, and young attackers like Jonathan David (Lille), and Tajon Buchanan (Inter) feature for a rapidly developing and improving side under American coach Jesse Marsch who cut his teeth in the Red Bull development system.

The Canadian federation has had its issues, and Canada’s MLS sides came together to hire Marsch for this tournament, Canada may not have much hope of a victory against mighty Argentina, but they will still look to get out of this group. A draw in their last friendly against France will give them hope, but a 4-0 defeat against the Netherlands in the friendly before that shows the shakiness of this at times, patchwork Canadian side. Argentina should continue to play focused football and figure out how to get the 3 points. Prediction: Argentina 4 Canada 0

Peru vs Chile (Friday in Arlington)

Steen: Both sides boast an average age of the XI north of 30, these are veteran sides, but they also haven’t been able to regenerate a new batch of talent to replace the old. Peru were awful in 2023, this year they are 3-0-1 in friendlies against lesser competition, they have a number of players in MLS and should have a degree of comfort playing in the United States, but 40 year old Paolo Guerrero is the striker and captain, their World Cup qualifying campaign has been going incredibly poorly, and I’m not sure where the goals will come from.

Chile won two consecutive Copa America’s a decade ago, this was a classy side that featured players in Europe, the decline has been notable though. 35 year old Alexis Sanchez of Inter is still leading the side, with 41 year old Claudio Bravo (Real Betis) in goal. Chile did win two friendlies this year and lost 3-2 to France, that was a far better showing than their poor results last year in World Cup qualifying. Chile probably limp through this game talent wise, but expectations are low for both teams. Prediction: Chile 2 Peru 1

Ben: With holders Argentina and debutants Canada completing the Group A quartet, these two teams will feel they are fighting for one spot in the quarter-finals, thereby making this clash at  AT&T Stadium vitally important.

Last time out stateside, Chile hoisting aloft the Copa América Centenario, retaining the trophy they’d won for the very first time a year earlier, but those glory days are now a thing of the past.

Since, la Roja have failed to qualify for back-to-back World Cups, starting the latest qualification cycle with just one win from six matches, although this solitary victory did come when Peru visited Santiago last October. Nevertheless, having only won six of 22 outings since 1 February 2022, beating only Paraguay twice, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Peru during this period, Ricardo Gareca’s team don’t come into this tournament with sky-high expectations.

Five summers ago, Gareca led Peru to their first Copa América Final for 44 years, dumping out holders Chile en route, having also managed la Blanquirroja at their first World Cup for 36 years in Russia beforehand. However, since Gareca’s departure two years ago, la Bicolor are yet to win a competitive match, yielding just two points from their first six World Cup qualifiers, thereby sat rock bottom of the table.

Jorge Fossati’s team have enjoyed friendly wins over Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and El Salvador in 2024, but could be staring down the barrel of a first Copa América group stage exit since 1995.

Chile have won 14 of their last 18 encounters with their Pacific coast neighbours, while Peru have been victorious four times during this period so, while it is tough to call, we given the slight-edge to la Roja in Arlington, Texas. Prediction: Chile 2 Peru 1

Ecuador vs Venezuela (Saturday in Santa Clara)

Steen: Ecuador have proven very good at beating or drawing against teams below or at their “level” as an international side, they usually come up short against the best teams in the world, but that’s to be expected most of the time. 34 year old Enner Valencia is captain, Bayer Leverkusen’s Piero Hincapie leads the defence in a side that features many players who have remained home, playing their club football in Ecuador.

Venezuela are a side on the rise, long mocked as the only nation in South America where baseball is the focus instead of football, La Vinotinto are proving the critics wrong so far during World Cup qualifying, and giving a nation that continues to experience so much political and economic turmoil something to celebrate. A draw with Brazil and a narrow defeat to Italy are among recent results for this side, which features a number of players in South American leagues like Brazil, and 34 year old Salomon Rondon leading the attack, Rondon plays in Liga MX for Pachuca and just won them a CONCACAF Champions League recently, while midfielders Tomas Rincon and Yeferson Soteldo feature in Brazil for Santos and Gremio. Ecuador should be favored, but Venezuela are good enough to score and get points from this. Prediction: 1-1 Draw

Ben: With all the traditional heavyweights located elsewhere, Group B is Copa América’s group of life, with all four nations involved believing they have a realistic chance of advancing.

Ecuador appear to be the best-equipped to take top spot, having started World Cup qualifying with three wins out of six, la Tri’s only defeats in any competition since March 2022 coming against European Champions Italy and World Champions Argentina.

Félix Sánchez Bas’ side have enjoyed friendly victories over Bolivia and Honduras ahead of this tournament, with many tipping Ecuador for a first Copa semi-final appearance since 1993, never previously achieving this away from home soil.

Venezuela meantime have been eliminated in the group phase at 15 of the last 19 Copas, including the most-recent edition, although there is belief that times they are a-changin’.

La Vinotinto are the only CONMEBOL member to have never qualified for a World Cup, but are currently fourth six matches into the current cycle, beating both Paraguay and Chile in Maturín, while also holding Brazil to an historic 1-1 draw in Cuiabá.

In the last 14 years, Venezuela have won only two of their 12 encounters with la Tricolor, Ecuador victorious on five occasions during this period, with another Ecuadorian victory the most-likely outcome at Levi’s Stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prediction: Ecuador 2 Venezuela 0

Mexico vs Jamaica (Saturday in Houston)

Steen: 2023 Gold Cup winners Mexico are a side in turmoil, after lifting that Gold Cup under new coach Jamie Lozano, who came from the Mexican Olympic team, Mexico lost to Honduras and a Colombia “b team”, had a number of draws in friendlies, and they have lost 3 friendlies this year, though they did look slightly better against Brazil at times. Mexican fans are angry about the composition of the national side, a lack of Mexican players in Europe, and the fact that the Mexican team largely plays matches in the United States where there is a large immigrant population, rather than at stadiums in the home country.

Julio Gonzalez (Pumas), is a new face in goal, West Ham’s Edison Alvarez and Dynamo Moscow’s Luis Chavez are two of the few players from Europe who feature in the Mexican side as midfielders, while Feyenoord’s Santiago Gimenez is considered the primary striker for El Tri. This is a disjointed side without a clear star, and Lozano will be hoping that someone emerges in that role to find goals, perhaps Club America’s naturalized Colombian born Julian Quinones.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz are also a federation in turmoil, Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey is not on the national side for this tournament due to a dispute with the federation, still this side has plenty of talent, drawing from the diaspora in the United Kingdom, a 4-1-1 record this year is impressive with the only defeat against the USA. Most of this side plays in England, including in the lower tiers of English football, along with a handful of MLS players. Forward Demarai Gray plays in Saudi Arabia. Jamaica should prove formidable for Mexico, but in this CONCACAF clash, El Tri should scratch their way to a win in front of a crowd that will be overwhelmingly pro Mexico. Prediction: Mexico 1 Jamaica 0

Ben: NRG Stadium in Houston will be packed to the rafters with Mexican supporters on Saturday night, but will they see their team claim a victory?

Well, El Tri do not come into this competition in good form, beaten 4-0 by Uruguay and then 3-2 by Brazil in pre-tournament friendlies, meaning they’ve won only four of 12 fixtures since victory in last July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup Final.

With Mexico co-hosting the World Cup in two years time, Jaime Lozano is under pressure to deliver a team that’ll be competitive on home soil, with this the final test-run before 2026 although, put frankly, he just doesn’t have a very good generation of players to work with.

This will be El Tri’s 11th appearance at the Copa América, only eliminated in the group phase on two occasions to date, and failure to reach the quarter-finals this summer would almost certainly see Lozano lose his job.

In contract, Jamaica are simply hoping to claim a first-ever Copa América point, losing all six matches they’ve ever played in the tournament, these coming in 2015 and 2016, conceding nine goals and scoring zero.So, just scoring a goal would be an improvement, but Heimir Hallgrímsson’s side are a team on the rise, qualifying for this year’s edition by beating Canada in last November’s play-offs, with Bobby Decordova-Reid’s late penalty in Toronto seeing them advance on away goals. The Reggae Boyz’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the World Cup, their only appearance to date coming in ’98, with Jamaica certainly amongst the front-runners to take one of the three CONCACAF spots up for grabs.

Last summer, Mexico swatted Jamaica aside 3-0 in Las Vegas in the Gold Cup semi-finals, meaning el Tri have won 12 of their last 19 encounters with the Reggae Boyz, defeated only thrice since 1996. So, while it’s unlikely to be straight-forward, a narrow Mexican victory is the most-likely outcome in Texas. Prediction: Mexico 2 Jamaica 1

Main Photo Credit: IMAGO: Argentina, Lionel Messi


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