Copa America Centenario Preview of Groups A & B

Published Tuesday, May 31, 2016 4:28 PM by Shane Barrow

The anticipation is building. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. What a month of soccer this is going to be! The Copa America Centenario featuring the top 16 teams from North and South America will be playing out right here in our own back yard. Meanwhile, across the pond the European Championships will also be taking place in France. It is going to be soccer overload as we are only days away from the opening match featuring the USA taking on Colombia. Let’s look into our crystal ball at the Copa America Centenario. Just how will this month long tournament play out? Most expect the South American sides to come to the States and run riot. Personally, I think you might be surprised. Today we will do our Soccermogul predictions for Groups A & B.

Group A USA, Colombia, Paraguay, Costa Rica

A tricky group for sure. The Americans are entering the tournament in fine and confident form following three solid warmup victories. There is new life in the squad with the likes of Darlington Nagbe, Bobby Wood and young Christian Pulisic pushing the regulars. Look for Jurgen Klinsmann’s boys to make some waves. Colombia arrives in America with talent to spare and a 3-1 warmup win over Group D’s Haiti. They will be without Falcao and Jackson Martinez for the tournament, but should have plenty of fire power to advance. Costa Rica is tried and tested. They are comfortable in big tournaments and comfortable playing on American soil. The big question is the absence of stud keeper Keylor Navas. His dynamic saves rescued Los Ticos on many an occasion. Finally we have Paraguay. A solid defensive South American squad. They’ll be tough to break down for sure. Lose focus against them and you can find yourselves in a bad result real fast. This group can really be a mess. All four squads are capable of grabbing a result in any match. Here’s how I see Group A playing out:

Friday June 3 USA v Colombia
What an opener we have! Juicy Juicy Juicy! I am going to go out on a limb. The Americans are confident and actually playing pretty well. I just feel like an upset. The US weathers the early storm from Colombia and plays themselves into the match. Meanwhile, Colombia flops once again in California. Dempsey scores the winner! USA 2 Colombia 1

Saturday June 4 Costa Rica v Paraguay
A very important game here. The loser is in a bad, bad place. I think we get a quiet draw in this one. 0-0

Tuesday June 7 USA v Costa Rica
A tricky game here. Costa Rica will not fear the Americans. Having the game in Chicago should help and I feel the US will snatch it late. Do not let Costa Rica grab an early goal though or this has the potential for a bad result. 1-0 USA on a set piece.

Tuesday June 7 Colombia v Paraguay
A South American battle. Colombia will come out with something to prove after the opening upset at the hands of the USA. Colombia 3-1.

Saturday June 11 USA v Paraguay
All to play for in the final group game. I think the US sits back and looks to go on the counter. This one has a draw written all over it for me as Paraguay cant find the goal they seek. Tie.

Saturday June 11 Colombia v Costa Rica
Colombia will need to get this one to advance and I think their offensive firepower will be on full display. Costa Rica will not be able to keep up and they wont have Navas to make the big saves. Colombia 2-0

Final Standings - USA 7, Colombia 6, Paraguay 2, Costa Rica 1

Group B Brazil, Ecuador, Haiti, Peru

Should be no problems here for the talented Brazilians even without the likes of Neymar. Haiti and Peru won’t scare anyone as Brazil got a very favorable draw. Ecuador should have no problems either as they have shown their qualities in leading the South American qualifying so far. The only question is who emerges from the two South American sides to take the group and if either Peru or Haiti can grab a shock result. Here's how Group B will go:

Saturday June 4 Brazil v Ecuador
The big match right off the bat. We know Brazil will not be overwhelmed by the moment. I am not sure Ecuador has enough offense to pull the shocker though. They’ll keep it close though. Hulk with the winner. Brazil 1-0

Saturday June 4 Haiti v Peru
This is a tough one to call. This will most likely be the only joy for either side in their Copa America. Neither will be comfortable on the turf in Seattle and I think this one will have goals in it. Draw 2-2 as both teams go for it

Wednesday June 8 Brazil v Haiti
The show in the stands will be better than the show on the pitch. Both fan bases are vibrant, but Haiti will simply not be able to keep up with the talented Brazilians when the whistle blows. Brazil cruises 2-0

Wednesday June 8 Peru v Ecuador
Ecuador will need this result and they’ll go get it. Peru just is not as good as Ecuador and it will show. They’ll have no answer for the talented wing play of Jefferson Montero and Antonio Valencia. Ecuador 2-1

Sunday June 12 Haiti v Ecuador
Haiti will still have a pulse in this one. A win would put them through, but Ecuador is simply too talented. Ecuador 2-1

Sunday June 12 Brazil v Peru
Try as they might Peru just won’t have the legs. I think they’ll make a run of it against a Brazil side that will already be looking to the knockout rounds. Brazil 3-2 in a wild one.

Final Standings - Brazil 9, Ecuador 6, Haiti 1, Peru 1