Copa America preview: Heavyweights Brazil, Colombia kick off Group C play

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Brazil and Colombia are two of the top sides in the world, as both teams enter the 2015 Copa America tournament with high hopes of leaving with the trophy.

However, they must first get through Group C which features Peru and Venezuela, who finished third and fourth respectively in the 2011 edition of the Copa.

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Paraguay proved yesterday that no team is ever down-and-out, erasing a two-goal deficit to draw pre-tournament favorites Argentina, so these matches may not be as cut and dry as they might seem.

Colombia vs. Venezuela (3 p.m. ET)

James Rodriguez headlines a stacked Colombia roster looking to build on their quarterfinal appearance at the World Cup last summer. There’s plenty of firepower on the attack, as Jose Pekerman’s roster includes Juan Cuadrado, Teo Gutierrez, Carlos Bacca and Jackson Martinez. However, most eyes will be on Radamel Falcao, the nation’s all-time lead goalscorer. Coming off of a terrible loan spell at Manchester United, Falcao’s form in this tournament could determine where he plays his club football next season.

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For Venezuela, controlling the speed of Colombia and not allowing dangerous counter-attacks will be key to staying in this match. After finishing fourth in the tournament in 2011, Noel Sanvicente’s side will look to shock South America once again. Even managing a draw against Colombia would be a good result for Venezuela, but it’s going to be a tall order.

Brazil vs. Peru (5:30 p.m. ET)

Brazil enters the tournament riding a ten-match win streak, with their last lost coming in the third-place game of the World Cup a year ago. After the 7-1 thumping from Germany that kept Brazil from lifting a trophy on home soil, Dunga has his side primed for a deep run in Chile. Neymar had a career year for Barcelona, and the 23-year-old captain will be the focal point of Brazil’s attack, as one of JPW’s top players to watch in the tournament.

Peru has their own stars, as Claudio Pizzarro and Jefferson Farfan both score their club goals in the Bundesliga. However, look for Paolo Guerrero to be Peru’s go-to man up top. After stints at Bayern Munich and Hamburger, the striker now plays in Brazil’s top flight, and will be keen to score against Dunga’s men.