The Copa America is upon us and we’re all pretty excited to see some of the worlds best in action in the coming weeks. But hwo should you keep a eye out for? Here’s our picks for the most exciting and significant players to look out for in the tournament.
1.) Neymar, Brazil
The latest Brazilian wunderkid is coming off the success of his success with Santos in Copa Libertadores and while his dives and histrionics are ultimately a turn off for me, there is no denying his skill. I’d look for lots of incisive run along the wings followed by tricksy shots and some selfishness to color his play in that Brazil jersey throughout the tournament.
2.) Lionel Messi, Argentina
Probably the best player to grace the field since Pele, Messi is a dominant force for Barcelona and an integral part of Argentina’s squad. Messi is one of the few players who has come up in recent years who has the skill to play anywhere, and isn’t interested in being a professional cry-baby. His play unselfish and unrelenting play this past season ensured Barcelona mopped the floor with Real Madrid, Tottenham, and Manchester United. If they hope to take home the Copa they’ll need to use him to maximum effect up front.
3.) Carlos Tevez, Argentina
Manchester City’s favorite subterranean homesick alien should be lining out for Argentina during the tournament and makes a good partner for Messi upfront. Realistically, he’s the only player they have who can properly feed off Messi’s passes, but also generate his own runs and movement to score without aid. Look for a few cheeky goals from this guy, he loves to play for his country, and we all know he’ll relish a chance to go home for awhile.
4.) Giovanni Dos Santos, Mexico
Despite his brother being sent home under less than honorable circumstances this week, Gio Dos Santos is a quick and creative player who loves to go on the run and should have an impact El Tri. His career hasn’t come to anything at the club level, as he seems unable to break into the team anywhere he goes. But there’s no denying he’s a great player when he’s wearing the Mexico jersey, and his annihilation of goalies in the recent Gold Cup is already the stuff of legend.
5.) Chicharito, Mexico
Manchester United’s latest hero and the prolific goal scorer for El Tri, there’s no denying he will have an impact in the tournament, especially with so many Mexican players sent home in disgrace. His creativity and ability to truly play with both of his feet makes him a mobile threat anywhere on the pitch. I have him marked for top scorer on the Mexican team, and he rarely disappoints. The only issue for him may be fatigue, as I’m not sure how much more of this his body can take after the EPL and Gold Cup.
6.) Fernando Muslera, Uruguay
The Uruguayan keeper is a man mountain, and many a side has paid the price for underestimating his throw and ability to drop the ball into play 70 to 80 yards down the pitch from his line. He’s also not afraid to mix it up with forwards and, as some league forwards will attest, his bark matches his bite in this regard. Look for him to flatten a few players, and if it really kicks off, he’ll be in the thick of it.
7.) Alex Sanchez, Chile
One the best, most underutilized in the arsenal of Camp Nou, Sanchez will be looking to remind the world why he deserves to be at Barcelona. He spends most of his time there on the bench, but by all accounts he’s a zealous trainer and should be more than fit for the competition. His repressed striker instincts and appetites should cause him to run riot all over the opposing half as he scores from around 20 yards out.
8.) Arturo Vidal, Chile
The other half of the Chilean dou of doom has been making a name for himself terrorizing the midfield of the Bundesliga at Bayer Leverkusen and has attracted attention from both the EPL and Serie A. He’s going to keep things interesting for Chile as they can count on him to hold up play in the middle and play more men forward to support Sanchez giving them a flexibility and attacking formation to rival the Mexicans.
9.) Rademel Falcao, Columbia
Porto’s speedy attacker shoots on goal with amazing accuracy, and has the pace to get clear of defenders. A quick, nippy little player, he’s also good in close and seems to have taken the Brazilian style of samba soccer to heart as he weaves through defense men. The rumor is he’s going to Chelsea, so he’ll be eager to show off for his new employers and bring it home for Columbia. Hopefully he’s not hamstrung by the mediocrity of the rest of the Columbian side.
10.) Guardado, Mexico
Guardado is one the most undervalued players on the Mexican side, and should be playing an integral part in their game as he did in the recent Gold Cup. Guardado moves with the play, and seems to have an almost intuitive understanding of where things are happening, and where they are going. Always in the right place at the right time, I’d look for him to have some serious impact on any game he plays in. He’s also able to score goals, and when you seem him running towards to you flanked by Chicharito and Dos Santos, most defenders leave him free to deal with the greater threats. Overall a great player, and one to watch.
They’re plenty more exciting players going to be on the field during the tournament, but these are our picks for the best to watch.
Written by: Matthew Wall and soccerprose.com staff, editor, soccerprose.com
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