Monday (KO 7 pm) sees Chile begin their Copa América title defense against Japan in the Morumbi Stadium of São Paulo. They hope to get off to a winning start and prove the team doubters wrong. Anything less than a win against a very beatable opposition will almost certainly demoralize this team struggling with form and impetus. In this article Chile Today takes a look at the opponents that Chile needs to beat to progress from Group C to the knock-out stages.
By far the most daunting opponent in Group C is Uruguay. They have all the qualities and ability to put together a strong tournament run. They are the team that boasts the most Copa América trophies (replicas) in their trophy cabinet, having won the tournament 15 times and they have also won the World Cup twice.
They were also the team that held the title until Chile’s dominance in 2015 and 2016. It is no surprise then that this team is, without fear, mentioned as possible title winner as Uruguay’s players simply have tournament winning pedigree – they know how to do it!
In March this year Uruguay also won the 3rd edition of the China Cup. Although their opponents, China, Uzbekistan, and Thailand, do not possess the same quality as they will face in the Copa América, the tournament was a good warm-up and allowed Óscar Tabárez to field some of his lower ranked players.
He will almost certainly not be doing the same when Uruguay start their campaign on Sunday against Ecuador. Uruguay’s undoubted strength is their firepower upfront. Most teams would be delighted to have any one of their strikers, but it will be Luis Suárez, Edison Cavani, or the hugely talented young Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gómez.
Chile Today’s prediction: Group winners and serious title contenders.
The Uruguay squad:
Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera, Martín Campaña, Martín Silva
Defenders: José Giménez, Diego Godín, Giovanni González, Marcelo Saracchi, Diego Laxalt, Sebastián Coates, Martín Cáceres
Midfielders: Matías Vecino, Rodrigo Bentancur, Nicolás Lodeiro, Nahitan Nández, Giorgian De Arrascaeta, Lucas Torreira, Federico Valverde, Gastón Pereiro
Forwards: Luis Suárez, Cristhian Stuani, Maxi Gómez, Jonathan Rodríguez, Edinson Cavani
Ecuador have struggled for form recently; they have not won a match in 2019. It’s likely to be a difficult campaign and they will need to try to pick up points against Japan and Chile to stand a chance. It will be a very tough task to get anything in their opening match against Uruguay. Coach Hernán Darío Gómez has picked only three strikers and it seems the intended path to glory will be through resolute defense.
Chile Today’s prediction: Out in the group stage.
The Ecuador Squad:
Goalkeepers: Alexander Domínguez, Pedro Ortíz, Máximo Banguera
Defenders: Arturo Mina, Robert Arboleda, Pedro Pablo Velasco, Cristian Ramírez, Xavier Arreaga, José Quintero, Beder Caicedo, Gabriel Achilier
Midfielders: Romario Ibarra, Renato Ibarra, Carlos Gruezo, Ayrton Preciado, Jefferson Intriago, Antonio Valencia, Jefferson Orejuela, Andrés Chicaiza, Jhegson Méndez
Forwards: Carlos Garcés, Ángel Mena, Enner Valencia
Japan are special guests at this year’s tournament and will be hoping to improve on their 1999 showing when they collected only 1 point, with a draw and two losses.
To prepare for this year’s tournament Japan organized friendlies against several American teams, beating Bolivia and El Salvador and drawing with Trinidad and Tobago.
Coach Hajime Moriyasu has picked an ambitious but inexperienced squad; they are by far the youngest team in the tournament. It will be Leicester City’s Shinji Okazaki who will provide the experience.
Many will keep an eye out for Real Madrid’s 18-year-old Takefusa Kubo and Hamburger SV’s 21-year-old Tatsuya Ito.
It’s certainly an exciting team, but it remains to be seen whether they can make any real impact on this year’s tournament. We will find out on Monday when they face Chile.
Chile Today’s prediction: Exciting young team but will fall short of progressing to the knock-out stage.
The Japan Squad
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima, Ryosuke Kojima, Keisuke Osako
Defenders: Daiki Sugioka, Ko Itakura, Naomichi Ueda, Teruki Hara, Daiki Suga, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Tomoki Iwata, Yugo Tatsuta
Midfielders: Yuta Nakayama, Kota Watanabe, Gaku Shibasaki, Tatsuya Ito, Shoya Nakajima, Koji Miyoshi, Taishi Matsumoto, Hiroki Abe, Takefusa Kubo
Forwards: Daizen Maeda, Ayase Ueda, Shinji Okazaki
Group C fixtures
Uruguay vs Ecuador | June 16, 2019
Japan vs Chile | June 17, 2019
Uruguay vs Japan | June 20, 2019
Ecuador vs Chile | June 21, 2019
Chile vs Uruguay | June 24, 2019
Ecuador vs Japan | June 24, 2019
John is a volcanologist, sports fan, radio broadcaster, and accomplished musician. Born and raised in Britain, he has travelled extensively for his research on volcanoes. Whilst living in London, UK, John performed in the punk bands ‘And Now We’re Even’ and ‘Filthy Militia’ recording six studio albums and two EP’S over this time. He currently lives in Santiago, Chile where he works as a university professor in rock mechanics.