So you’ve got the bunting out and you’re just a handful of Albanians away from completing the Panini sticker book. Euro 2016 is just over a week away and you’ve got nothing to do but twiddle your thumbs and wait for the big day in Paris on June 10th.
Except that Euro 2016 isn’t the only big tournament taking place this summer. The 100th anniversary of the Copa America kicks off with USA vs. Colombia – and it could just be the football event of the summer.
It’s being hosted in the USA
This is a special anniversary edition of the tournament and, rather than just invite a couple of CONCACAF teams to make up the numbers, the whole event has been moved north of the equator.
The USA will host the tournament and five other North American nations will compete, including an impressive Mexico side who will hold out genuine hopes of lifting the trophy with some of the big names in disarray.
Holding the event in the USA is sure to attract new fans to the Copa America and the intrigue of teams from two different confederations competing in one tournament should make it a unique spectacle.
Anyone could go on and win it
There have been shock winners of the European Championships in the past, with both Denmark and Greece’s triumphs coming from absolutely nowhere. Spain’s processions in 2008 and 2012 were utterly predictable, however, and there hasn’t really been a shock performer since the Greeks in 2004.
The Copa America couldn’t be more different, with all of the big nations heading into the tournament with real problems. Favourites Argentina were rumoured to be pulling out of the tournament because of disagreements at boardroom level, whilst Lionel Messi is still dealing with his tax affairs back in Barcelona.
Brazil look to be a total write off, with their focus on the Olympics on home soil later on this year. It will be a weakened Brazilian side that takes part and they may not even improve on last year’s quarter-final appearance. Even holders Chile are struggling, with coach Jorge Samapoli having walked away and a shock defeat against minnows Jamaica in one of their warm-up friendlies.
Paraguay and Peru both made surprise semi-final appearances in Chile last year and the Copa America seems to guarantee one unfancied nation breaking through the pack to upset the big boys.
There is going to be a lot of cards handed out
“These are scenes that nobody wants to see.”
That line of annoying commentary is sure to make several appearances across the Copa America, with South American sides never shy to stray just the wrong side of the laws.
Deep down we all love to see players lose control and some real drama in games, something that is never far away when Conmebol nations face-off against each other.
The red card handed to Neymar and subsequent chaos in the Brazil vs. Colombia group game last year was one of the most memorable moments of the tournament, with the borderline violent quarter-final between Chile and Uruguay not far behind.
One of the main protagonists wasn’t even involved last year, with Luis Suarez still serving has ban from World Cup 2014, throw him into the mix and there are going to be plenty of fireworks.
There will be no extra time played
South American football has a tendency to put its own slants on the laws of the game and, following the successful introduction of vanishing spray, the Copa America will once again have a different method for settling ties.
Extra time will only be played following a tie in the final, with other knockout games going straight to penalty shoot-outs.
This is another thing that hands the advantage to smaller nations, who may be able to hold on for a draw over 90 minutes before securing progress from the spot. Who knows, after the success of the spray, maybe this could catch on across the globe as well?