2015 Copa America preview, picks, schedule: South American giants collide in Chile

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The 2015 Copa America tournament is here, as Chile is bracing itself to welcome some of the best players on the planet.

Argentina and Brazil are the heavy favorites to win the tournament but with the likes of Chile, Colombia and Uruguay around there are sure to be plenty of surprises along the way.

[ GROUP PREVIEWS: A | B | C ]

So, with three weeks of tournament play taking place in Chile here is everything you need to know.

The contenders

Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay are the favorites to win it all but you cannot rule out upstarts Colombia and host nation Chile. Defending champions Uruguay stunned host nation Argentina to win the last Copa America tournament back in 2011 and we will get another shock in Chile? Perennial giants Brazil and Argentine will fancy their chances and Brazil has won four of the last six tournaments as they’ve beaten Argentina twice in the last three finals. Expect a good old fashion slugfest between these bitter rivals at some point during the knockout stages.

The hosts

As for Chile, their run to the World Cup last 16 excited many last summer but there’s a feeling that Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Co. are in their prime and ready to deliver a big performance on home soil. The Chileans have never won the Copa America but with a favorable group they have been given every chance to succeed under their passionate coach Jorge Sampaoli. Chile’s games in Santiago will be sellouts and their fans will create a carnival atmosphere if they do well. Plus, it is always good for the tournament if the host nation makes a deep run.

CONCACAF reps

Two countries flying the CONCACAF this summer, as Mexico and Jamaica test themselves against the best South America has to offer. For Miguel Herrera and El Tri, they have a young squad after prioritizing the Gold Cup which takes place in the U.S. in July. As for Jamaica, they proved to be stubborn opponents during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and the Reggae Boyz may surprise a few people as head coach Winfried Schafer leads them into their first-ever appearance in the Copa America tournament. Mexico could easily make it out of Group A but Jamaica is in a stacked Group B alongside Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay. Good luck with that…

Top storylines

  • Can Uruguay compete without Luis Suarez? – His nine-game international ban for biting goes on, huge blow for the defending champs. Can Cavani lead them to glory?
  • Can the pretenders rise to the occasion? – We have mentioned hosts Chile, but can Colombia win their second title after triumphing in 2001? With James and a rejuvenated Falcao, this could be their best chance.
  • Lionel Messi aims for first trophy with Argentina – Fun fact (not for Lionel): Messi has never won a major tournament with Argentina. The World Cup runners-up will fancy their chances of winning in Chile. If they do, Messi will have to be at his best.
  • Time to see how far Brazil have really progressed – 12 months on from that 7-1 shellacking by Germany in the World Cup semifinals, Brazil has a new manager and plenty of new players. Dunga has enjoyed 10-straight wins since taking over and the Selecao have only conceded twice since September 2014. Just how good are his new defensive-minded side? We are about to find out.

Superstars on show

Earlier this week at PST we ranked the top 20 players who will feature at Copa America. Needless to say, the list oozes quality as some of the best players on the planet will look horns. As we mentioned above, Suarez is banned so it will be a shame he won’t spearhead Uruguay’s title defense. Anyway here’s a ranking of the top 20 players and to give you a little taster of just how strong the field at this tournament is, look at the top five below. Just look at it…

1. Lionel Messi
2. Neymar
3. Alexis Sanchez
4. Sergio Aguero
5. Edinson Cavani

Schedule (Games broadcast on beIN Sports in the U.S.)

Thursday 11 June

Group A – Chile v Ecuador, 7:30 p.m. ET

Friday 12 June

Group A – Mexico v Bolivia, 7:30 p.m. ET

Saturday 13 June

Group B – Uruguay v Jamaica, 3 p.m. ET

Group B – Argentina v Paraguay, 5:30 p.m. ET

Sunday 14 June

Group C – Colombia v Venezuela, 3 p.m. ET

Group C – Brazil v Peru, 5:30 p.m. ET

Monday 15 June

Group A – Ecuador v Bolivia, 5 p.m. ET

Group A – Chile v Mexico, 7:30 p.m. ET

Tuesday 16 June

Group B – Paraguay v Jamaica, 5 p.m. ET

Group B – Argentina v Uruguay, 7:30 p.m. ET

Wednesday 17 June

Group C – Brazil v Colombia, 7 p.m. ET

Thursday 18 June

Group C – Peru v Venezuela, 7:30 p.m. ET

Friday 19 June

Group A – Mexico v Ecuador, 5 p.m. ET

Group A – Chile v Bolivia, 7:30 p.m. ET

Saturday 20 June

Group B – Uruguay v Paraguay, 3 p.m. ET

Group B – Argentina v Jamaica, 5:30 p.m. ET

Sunday 21 June

Group C – Colombia v Peru, 3 p.m. ET

Group C – Brazil v Venezuela, 5:30 p.m. ET

Wednesday 24 June

Quarterfinal – A1 v B3/C3, 7:30 p.m. ET

Thursday 25 June

Quarterfinal – A2 v C2, 7:30 p.m. ET

Friday 26 June

Quarterfinal – B1 v A3/C3, 7:30 p.m. ET

Saturday 27 June

Quarterfinal – C1 v B2, 5:30 p.m. ET

Monday 29 June

Semifinal – Winner QF1 v Winner QF2, 7:30 p.m. ET

Tuesday 30 June

Semifinal – Winner QF3 v Winner QF4, 7:30 p.m. ET

Friday 3 July

Third-place playoff – 7:30 p.m. ET

Saturday 4 July

Final – 4 p.m. ET

Predictions

At PST a handful of us have put our necks on the line to predict the final group standings and the path through the knockout stages.

Here’s how we think the tournament will pan out…

Joe Prince-Wright

Group A

  1. Chile
  2. Ecuador
  3. Mexico
  4. Bolivia

Group B

  1. Argentina
  2. Uruguay
  3. Jamaica
  4. Paraguay

Group C

  1. Brazil
  2. Colombia
  3. Peru
  4. Venezuela

Quarterfinals

Chile over Jamaica
Colombia over Ecuador
Argentina over Mexico
Brazil over Uruguay

Semifinals

Chile over Colombia
Argentina over Brazil

Third-Place

Brazil over Colombia

Final

Chile over Argentina

Kyle Bonn

Group A

  1. Chile
  2. Mexico
  3. Ecuador
  4. Bolivia

Group B

  1. Argentina
  2. Uruguay
  3. Jamaica
  4. Paraguay

Group C

  1. Colombia
  2. Brazil
  3. Peru
  4. Venezuela

Quarterfinals

Chile over Peru
Brazil over Mexico
Argentina over Ecuador
Uruguay over Colombia

Semifinals

Brazil over Chile
Argentina over Uruguay

Third-Place

Uruguay over Chile

Final

Argentina over Brazil

Kyle Lynch

Group A

  1. Chile
  2. Ecuador
  3. Mexico
  4. Bolivia

Group B

  1. Argentina
  2. Uruguay
  3. Paraguay
  4. Jamaica

Group C

  1. Colombia
  2. Brazil
  3. Peru
  4. Venezuela

Quarterfinals

Chile over Paraguay
Brazil over Ecuador
Argentina over Mexico
Colombia over Uruguay

Semifinals

Chile over Brazil
Argentina over Colombia

Third-Place

Brazil over Colombia

Final

Argentina over Chile

Nicholas Mendola

Group A

  1. Chile
  2. Mexico
  3. Ecuador
  4. Bolivia

Group B

  1. Argentina
  2. Uruguay
  3. Paraguay
  4. Jamaica

Group C

  1. Brazil
  2. Colombia
  3. Peru
  4. Venezuela

Quarterfinals

Chile over Paraguay
Colombia over Mexico
Argentina over Ecuador
Brazil over Uruguay

Semifinals

Colombia over Chile
Brazil over Argentina

Third-Place

Chile over Argentina

Final

Colombia over Brazil

MLS Snapshot: POR carve up 9-man ORL, keep pace with VAN, SKC

Pete Christopher//The Oregonian via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): All of a sudden, the Western Conference has sprung to life as the 2017 regular season winds down — Vancouver Whitecaps, winners of five of their last seven games (unbeaten); Portland Timbers, winners of four of their last six following Sunday’s 3-0 victory over 10-man nine-man Orlando City SC at Providence Park; Sporting Kansas City, losers of just two of their last 15 games; Seattle Sounders, who had their 13-game unbeaten run snapped on Saturday; and Real Salt Lake, winners of four of their last five. With fewer than a handful of games remaining, Vancouver’s lead on Portland and Sporting KC remains one point after all three sides won this weekend; RSL and Seattle are separated by just three points, three points back of second and third. As for Saturday’s game, Diego Valeri is now a top-two candidate for MVP after scoring two more goals (his 19th and 20th, to go with 9 assists) against 10-man Orlando.

[ MORE: TFC’s Shield celebration delayed | RSL end Seattle’s run at 13 ]

Three moments that mattered

15′ — Valeri extends his streak, makes it 1-0 — The last time Valeri failed to score in a game, the date was July 23.

29′ — Mattocks taps it home after Asprilla’s cross — Huge credit to Diego Chara for the through ball to spring Dairon Asprilla into acres of space. The ball to Mattocks was simple, and he got it right.

59′ — Valeri gets no. 20, makes it 3-0 — Joe Bendik managed to deny Mattocks’ initial effort, but Valeri followed up when everyone in white had already quit on the play.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Diego Valeri

Goalscorers: Valeri (15′ – PK, 59′), Mattocks (29′)

The 2 Robbies: City Sparkle, Chelsea Shine, Liverpool Hold On

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe take a look at some of the weekend’s biggest storylines, including Liverpool’s thrilling victory over Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur’s frantic win away to West Ham United and Manchester City’s demolition of Crystal Palace.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Ederson harbors no ill will after Mane’s personal apology

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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As far as Ederson is concerned, Sadio Mane‘s studs-to-face assault is a thing of the past — save for, the elongated scar he’ll likely wear on the left side of his face for the rest of his life, of course.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Goals galore on a wild Saturday ]

The Manchester City goalkeeper, who was forced from his side’s 5-0 victory over Liverpool on Sept. 9 after his face was raked by the studs of the Reds’ star attacker, revealed this weekend that he received — and accepted — Mane’s personal apology in the days immediately thereafter — quotes from Goal.com:

“Yes, I had contact with him, he sent me a message. I told him to stay calm, those things happen inside the pitch, it could happen anytime. I told him to not worry and wished him a good season.”

“I ended up having a hard hit in the face, but in the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I felt a strong kick, but I was always conscious. I knew it had been a long cut. I wanted to keep playing but, for medical issues, I couldn’t keep playing.

“But I was always conscious, even if I had my face a little bit swollen. But after a week it was normal again. In the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I faced that game full of confidence again, without any fear and happy for the result we achieved.”

Bundesliga: Leverkusen throttle HSV; Hannover remain unbeaten

Marius Becker/dpa via AP
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BERLIN (AP) Three days after being cleared to play by FIFA, Argentine striker Lucas Alario scored one goal and set up another on his debut for Bayer Leverkusen to beat Hamburger SV 3-0 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Alario struck midway through the first half, converting a cross from Leon Bailey, who also set up Kevin Volland’s opening goal just three minutes before.

A moment of class from Julian Brandt sent Alario through with less than 10 minutes remaining, and the Argentine had the awareness to spot the better-positioned Volland to seal the win.

Alario went off moments later to warm applause from fans.

“The goal is the cream on top. He played very well, scored the goal and combined with others. He worked well coming back and his first goal wasn’t so easy to score,” Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich said.

Alario’s first appearance for Leverkusen was held up when previous club River Plate objected to his transfer through the Argentine soccer association (AFA), which denied his playing rights.

The Buenos Aires-based club contended that Alario’s transfer was invalid as Leverkusen paid his release clause of $28.6 million on Aug. 31, after the Argentine season began, which it said was against FIFA rules.

Leverkusen then took the case to FIFA, which ruled in its favor on Thursday.

Leverkusen’s second win in six games eased the pressure on new coach Herrlich after a difficult start.

Counterpart Markus Gisdol remains in need of a change in fortune, however, after four straight defeats. Hamburg next faces Werder Bremen, Mainz and Bayern Munich.


Cologne fought its way to its first point in a 0-0 draw at promoted Hannover after starting the Bundesliga with five straight defeats.

Now the last-place side hopes it can build on the point.

“The luck will come back and the chances we had today will go in,” Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn said. “We’ll start winning the games again. But the precondition was this performance that we delivered today.”

Peter Stoeger’s side, which has scored only one goal all season, hasn’t netted in its last four league games. That highlighted the extent to which Cologne relied on French striker Anthony Modeste, sold in the offseason in a big-money move to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian.

Modeste scored 25 Bundesliga goals for Cologne last season. His replacement, former Mainz striker Jhon Cordoba, is yet to score in six games.

“We all have to be satisfied with the draw,” said Hannover general manager Horst Heldt, whose fourth-place side remains one of three unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season.

Hannover coach Andre Breitenreiter remained unbeaten in 15 games across two divisions.