No World Cup this summer? No worries. Some of the most entertaining players on the planet will be making the month of June a fine footballing spectacle in the Copa America – and with the tournament being held in Chile, that means kick-off times in Ireland and the UK will be 8.00pm, 10.00pm, and 12.30am. Just make sure there are batteries in the remote.
As for a punt, we’ve dug open Paddy Power’s betting book to see where the cash is going ahead of this year’s tournament. On face value it looks a two-horse race, with almost three-quarters of the cash riding on the two heavyweights, Argentina and Brazil. Colombia pinch marginally more cash than hosts Chile, while everything else, including Uruguay are as friendless as Piers Morgan.
Lionel Messi and Argentina are the most popular punt at 9/4 with 40 per cent of the cash riding on the World Cup runners-up. Argentina have won Copa America 14 times, but haven’t lifted the trophy since 1993, and although Gerardo Martino’s men have been in two finals in the last three years, both ended in defeat to Brazil. Mario Gotze broke Argentinian hearts last July, but 12 months on a lot of Paddy Power punters will be hoping they can go one step further in the Copa America.
A third of the cash is on the Brazilians, who are looking to win their fifth Copa America in the last seven tournaments. Last time Brazil played competitive football they were getting spanked 7-1 by the Germans before a lacklustre 3-0 defeat to the Netherlands in the third-place play-off ended the host’s World Cup. But since then Dunga has returned, and the Brazilians have won eight on the spin – including wins against France, Chile and Argentina. Brazil are 10/3, and despite playing David Luiz at centreback, 33 per cent of punters still fancy them to win.
Despite being in Brazil’s group, Colombia (6/1) have taken 13 per cent of Paddy Power punters’ cash with all eyes on James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao. While one exploded onto the big stage with a phenomenal World Cup performance and then moved to Real Madrid for €80m, the other arrived at Manchester United and managed just four goals in 26 Premier League appearances. The hosts Chile (4/1) have snaffled up 11 per cent of punters’ support despite never winning Copa America, while every punters don’t fancy any other side – including a Luis Suarez-less Uruguay (12/1).
It promises to be a cracker of a tournament whichever side you’re backing – with a potential semi-final between Brazil and Argentina on June 30 catching our eye straight away. Sit back, soak it up, and a World Cup-less summer won’t seem so bad after all.