The Copa America is almost here, and while Paddy Power punters are wasting no time piling their summer savings into Argentina and Brazil, a little look at the potential route to the final suggests that there is a better value team to be backing.
Hosts Chile have never won Copa America, and haven’t made the final since 1987. But at odds of
4/1 7/2, a combination of home advantage, a potentially straight-forward route to the final, and the magic of Alexis Sanchez has us well and truly on side.
Firstly, home advantage would appear a significant advantage in the Copa America. Going back to 1916, when the tournament was originally the South America Championship, 20 of the 40 host nations have gone on to win the competition. Since the change of format, the host nation has won three of the 11 Copa America’s but the significance is still noteworthy. Particularly when you consider that in the six times that Chile have hosted the tournament, they have come third four times, as well as coming second in 1955.
The key part of this punt, and the one that suggests there’s value to be had, is Chile’s potential route. A group containing Bolivia, Ecuador and Mexico should be relatively easy to navigate – particularly with Mexico missing key stars such as Hector Herrera, Carlos Vela, and Javier Hernandez.
From then on in, the host nation appear to be on course to avoid a lot of the heavyweights, with Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay in the bottom half of the draw. A clash with Colombia in the semi-finals looks to be Chile’s sternest test, but with their high intensity football, and passionate support Chile have every chance of making a final appearance on July 4.
Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez finished his first season in England as the Gunner’s highest league scorer, bagging 16 goals in the top flight, plus a handful of others including a stunner in the FA Cup Final. Throw in eight Premier League assists and Sanchez contributed directly to more than a third of Arsenal’s goals this season. That kind of contribution for his country would almost certainly see them go far in this tournament.
Throw in other key men like Arturo Vidal – an integral part of Juventus’ domestic double – and Barcelona number one Claudio Bravo, and Chile’s price of
4/1 7/2 looks more appealing than the kebab shop in the early hours of Saturday morning. Bravo kept 23 clean sheets in the league this season – no keeper in Europe’s top five leagues racked up more shut-outs than the Chilean shot-stopper.
Alternatively, if you’re not quite convinced that Chile could topple either Brazil or tournament favourites Argentina in the final, the hosts are a slightly skinnier 13/10 to make the big stage.