Players to look out for in Copa America Centenario

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100 years after the competition first began, Copa America will be held outside of South America for the first ever time when it kicks off in the United States tonight.

The tournament always presents a feast of samba skills and crazy fans as some of the best footballing nations in the world battle it out to be kings of South America.

As usual there are a number of superstars heading to the tournament including Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, James Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez.

However there are also a number of players who may have gone under the radar in the build up to this month’s competition.

We have therefore decided to go through each group and identify a number of players to look our for if you plan on staying up through the early hours to watch this festival of South American football!

Group A 

Carlos Bacca (Columbia) – Bacca has netted a superb 77 goals over the past four seasons for Club Brugge, Sevilla and AC Milan and his goal scoring form will certainly be needed if Columbia are to challenge for their second Copa America title,

James Rodriguez (Columbia) Rodriguez certainly needs very little introduction. The 24-year-old captain was the top goalscorer at the 2014 World Cup before earning a dream move to Real Madrid.

Christian Bolanos (Costa Rica) – Bolanos has made a fine start to life with Vancouver Whitecaps, scoring and creating plenty of goals.

The 32-year-old was part of the Costa Rica squad which shocked everybody with their stunning run to the World Cup Quater-Finals in 2014 and will provide valuable experience this time around.

Ronald Matarrita (Costa Rica)The 21-year-old is another Costa Rican who has made a real impression since moving to MLS this season.

Matarrita has been a rock in New York City’s defense in his 11 starts this campaign and his presence for Costa Rica will be even more appreciated with goalkeeper Keylor Navas ruled out of the competition through injury.

Dario Lezcano (Paraguay) – Since making his international debut in October, Lezcano has netted four times and is currently the joint-leading goalscorer in South American World Cup Qualifying.

The Ingolstadt striker featured 18 times in the Bundesliga this season and will be looking to continue his fine form for the national team.

Antonio Sanabria (Paraguay) – The 20-year-old is another Paraguayan  marksman who will be looking to get on the score sheet in America.

Sanabria found the net 11 times this season as he helped Sporting Gijon retain their La Liga status in dramatic fashion.

Bobby Wood (USA) – After a number of years playing in Germany Wood finally came into his own last season as he netted 16 goals in a hugely productive campaign for Union Berlin.

Wood’s form secured him a move to Bundesliga side Hamburg and the 23-year-old will be hoping to set himself up for another strong season by performing well this summer in front of a home crowd.

Group B

Willian (Brazil) – It is fair to say that Brazil may be lacking a bit of their Samba flair during the tournament.

Neymar, Douglas Costa, David Luiz, Marcelo and former captain Thiago Silva will all be absent as Brazil attempt to secure a ninth Copa America trophy. This means that players such as Willian will have to step up to the plate and ensure that Dunga’s side make the Brazilian fans proud.

Enner Valencia (Ecuador) – Although West Ham fans certainly did not see the best of Valencia this season, there is no doubting that when it comes to scoring goals on the international stage he is one of the best in the business.

Valencia has netted  14 times in 24 international appearances and is already Ecuador’s 10th all time leading goalscorer.

Duckens Nazon (Haiti) – Haiti have done fantastically well to qualify for this month’s tournament and anything more will be seen as a bonus for the proud nation.

Nazon is certainly a player to look out for. The speedy 22-year-old was in good goal scoring form for Haiti at last summer’s Gold Cup and plays professionally for Laval in the French second tier.;

Raul Ruidiaz (Peru) – The fact that the 25-year-old is affectionately known as the “Peruvian Messi” back in his homeland demonstrates how highly Ruidiaz is rated by the Peru fans.

The attacker has been in superb goal scoring form in the Peruvian top flight, netting 22 times in 22 appearances this season.

Paulo Guerrero (Peru) – With the absence of former captain Claudio Pizarro, Peru will be looking towards the 32-year-old for guidance on the pitch.

Guerrero is likely to be a goal threat as well as he has topped the Copa America goal scoring charts in the past two tournaments.

Group C 

Luis Suarez (Uruguay) – After missing last season’s tournament the 29-year-old is back and is in the form of his life.

After another fantastic season for Barcelona, where he found the net 40 times in just 35 games, Suarez will be confident of  a strong showing to make up for his biting incident during the World Cup.

Edison Cavani (Uruguay) – Whilst Suarez is the most talented player in the Uruguay side, they may have to relay on fellow front man Cavani at the start of the tournament.

This is because Suarez limped off in the Copa Del Ray final and is expected to miss the first few games of the tournament. All eyes will therefore be on Cavani who has had another decent season with PSG, netting 19 goals in 32 appearances.

Giles Barnes (Jamaica) – A few people may remember when Barnes was touted as one of the next big things when he burst through through the Derby County academy in 2005.

Although a career in England never materialized, Barnes is beginning to make a name for himself at Houston Dynamo (formally managed by new Blackburn boss Owen Coyle). The 27-year-old has been in impressive goal scoring form in the early stages of the MLS season, finding the net four times in ten appearances.

Wes Morgan (Jamaica) – Despite Harry Redknapp’s best attempts to secure Morgan a place in the England team at Euro 2016, the Jamaica captain will be leading out the Reggae Boyz this summer.

Fresh from the success of Leicester’s remarkable Premier League victory, Morgan will be looking to perform another miracle and lead Jamaica to success.

Javier Hernandez (Mexico) -After a difficult few years Hernandez seems to finally be enjoying his football again.

The 28-year-old scored 17 times in a hugely productive first season with Bayer Leverkusen and will be under added pressure to find the net in America after LA Galaxy striker Giovani Dos Santos turned down a call up.

Adalberto Penaranda (Venezuela) – There is a good chance that we will see Penaranda in the Premiership next season after the 19-year-old Watford loanee had a very productive loan spell with La Liga club Grenada this campaign.

The striker found the net five times in 21 appearances and was named man of the match in Grenada’s 2-1 victory over Levante in December.

Group D 

Lionel Messi (Argentina) – This is probably the most obvious choice! Messi is certainly one of the greatest players to play the game and any opportunity to watch him do what he does best should not be missed!

Sergio Aguero (Argentina) – Aguero has had another impressive season as he continues to be one of the deadliest strikers in the Premier League.

24 league goals this season represents Aguero’s second highest tally in England and he will be looking to continue his fine form throughout the summer.

Rodrigo Ramallo (Bolivia) – Bolovia are the lowest ranked nation in the month’s tournament and have been hit by the retirements of a number of key players.

Sunday’s 4-0 friendly defeat to USA hinted that Bolivia could be in for a tough ride but look out for Ramallo, who has netted twice in nine international appearances.

Alexis Sanchez (Chile) – Sanchez is certainly Chile’s star man and although his form for Arsenal tailed off a little towards the end of the season, the 27-year-old will come into the tournament with high expectations.

Arturo Vidal (Chile) – Although it took him a little while to find his feet at Bayern Munich, the 29-year-old ended the season well and should play a crucial role in the middle of the park as Chile look to defend their title.

Anibal Godoy (Panama) – The 26-year-old midfielder has finally appeared settled after moving to MLS club San Jose Earthquakes last year after a spell in Hungary.

Godoy has already been capped over 50 times for Panama and has impressed in his eight MLS appearances this season.

Ismael Diaz (Panama) – Another potential Panama superstar is 19-year-old striker Diaz.

The Porto B striker found the net 13 times in the Portuguese second division this season but he hit the headlines at last year’s U20 CONCACAF Championships where he scored four times to help Panama to a surprise second placed finish.



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