2019 Copa America Group B Betting Preview, Odds & Tips
In the second of a three-part series, football expert Tom Love (@TomLove_18) assesses this summer's Copa America tournament with a specific focus on Group B that includes Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar.
2019 Copa America Group B Betting Preview, Odds & Tips
Following on from my Group A preview, below we'll look at each of the four teams in Group B.
Argentina – 15/4 (888Sport)
It's no surprise to see Argentina as the second favourites behind Brazil to triumph in this competition. Many will look at their array of attacking options and fancy them to go deep into the tournament, however it's never as cut and dry as it seems with the Argies.
La Albiceleste do have the best player in the world in their roster of course, Lionel Messi. What gaffer and namesake Lionel Scaloni needs to get right is what position to play the little magician, it's been a conundrum which has hampered them for a while now. Scaloni tends to play a more direct style than Barcelona do which doesn't suit Messi, or many of his teammates for that matter. It will be interesting to see if he alters his modus operandi this summer.
Two midfielders I have been majorly impressed with this past season are Giovanni Lo Celso (Real Betis) and Rodrigo De Paul (Udinese). Lo Celso was tactically misused at PSG after coming over from Rosario Central in 2016, when he got game time he was playing as a deep lying midfielder which doesn't suit his skill set as much as alternative positions. Quique Setien and Real Betis took a punt on him and he's revelled in a more attacking central midfield role. He managed 16 goals and 5 assists over all competitions in 18/19 and he is likely to start for Argentina here.
De Paul is a player not many will be too familiar with but he has been one of the gems in Serie A this term. Over the course of the season he averaged a 7.37 average rating by WhoScored, that put him in the team of the year and rightly so. He's improved year on year at the Udine based club and I'm delighted that he has got the call up to the Copa squad. He averaged a decent 2.4 shots a game but his build up play stats are what really stand out, 2.3 completed dribbles per game shows that he's brave enough to travel past opposition midfielders, 2.7 key passes a game is an excellent return too. 9 goals and 8 assists put some beef on those underlying numbers and he will certainly push to make the starting 11.
It's not all rosy in the garden though. There's long been an argument that this side is way too top heavy and I think that's an agreeable point. We've seen it major tournaments before that they lack discipline off the ball and positionally can be caught out. Nicolas Otamendi is probably their stand out defender and he does have plenty of honours to his name, however he hasn't featured as much this season and is a card happy player so I'll discipline is a mark on him; the same can be said for Spurs' Juan Foyth. Elsewhere, ex Everton centre half Ramiro Funes-Mori has failed to convince and the final centre back is Fiorentina's German Pezzela.
What's more, their lack of a solid defensive midfielder means they fail to have balance and that's gives space to opposition midfielders. It wouldn't be surprising to see Lo Celso dropped back in to his unfavored holding role due to a dearth of other options.
It could be a case of just going out to outscore the opposition for Argentina, it may be their best route to success. In their games I'd be looking at goals based bets, possibly surrounding them to win whilst conceding given the level of competition in their group. The simple lack of balance in the squad make their near 5/1 quotes look like little value in my book, against the top sides that flaw could get highlighted to a greater extent. Expect them to get out the group but possibly falter in the latter stages.
Colombia – 9/1 (bet365)
One of the dark horses for most competitions is Colombia. Los Cafeteros were of course knocked out in the last 16 at the World Cup on penalties by England, that's about their level I think. However this tournament is only on the top South American clubs and that should give them a decent shot this summer.
Former Manchester United assistant and Iran coach Carlos Querioz is now at the helm after taking over from José Peckermann. He has plenty of experience working all over the world but he hasn't had much time to get settled and his focus could be on next year in Argentina. However a positive Copa here will get him onside with the Colombian faithful.
They look to have a bit of everything and have a greater balance than group rivals Argentina. They're another aggressive side and some standout names to look out for in the card markets will be the defensive midfield duo of Bournemouth's Jefferson Lerma and Zenit's Wilmar Barrios both of whom are tough tacklers. Right back Santiago Arias is now at a big club in Atletico Madrid, Yerry Mina is an obvious threat from set pieces but wasn't a major part of Marco Silva's plans at Everton however he showed what he was about in Russia last year.
Going forward they have the likes of Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez who have been about for a while now but both possess different threats from midfield. Where Queiroz has a big selection headache is what he does up front. Falcao has naturally been their number one for the last decade or so but he doesn't really suit the loan striker role, however they do have a player who can occupy that number 9 spot in Duvan Zapata.
Zapata has been phenomenal for an attacking Atalanta side the season just gone, finishing has Serie A top scorer. He plays at the top of a 3-4-2-1 formation and has benefitted being played as a pure number 9 rather than having his back to goal all the time. He's great in the air attacking the ball from crosses and can shoot with both feet. He's certainly one to watch and on form he should be starting.
There's a lot of good players in this side but they're quite a random and erratic side I find. 9/1 seems about right here and you'd expect them to probably go through. Their opener against Argentina will be a big one, get a result their and they'd look home and dry for a quarters spot and they'd have a decent shot from there on in.
Paraguay – 40/1 (Betway)
Paraguay are the 4th most successful Copa America side on the continent which may surprise a few, they've won the title twice and are regulars in the final eight at least.
Many will remember the strikers La Albirroja have had in the last twenty years or so. Nelson Valdez, Roque Santa Cruz and Oscar Cardozo to name a few. The latter of those is now 36 but has been included in the 23 man roster. ‘Tacuara' is still banging them in for Libertad Ascuncion in his home country as is Santa Cruz at Olimpia to be fair, I was surprised to see that they were both still playing!
New manager Eduardo Berizzo will be looking towards striker Federico Santander who's had a decent second half of the season with a rejuvenated Bologna in Serie A. But the star man of this side could well be Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron. The former Atlanta United man will be played in an attacking midfield role, finding the half spaces, creating, running at defenders and getting shots off. Almiron was out for the last few premier league games so he is well rested. Los Guaraníes fans will be looking towards the 25 year old to provide the spark this summer.
They got to the quarter finals of the 2010 World Cup but since then they've not had much to celebrate on the World stage but they did make the semi-finals of the 2015 Copa. The group they find themselves in is tighter than it first looks so it will be interesting to see how they fair. Since Berizzo came in they've lost their two friendly matches so aren't coming to Brazil in any real form so it's hard to have massive faith in them given the unknown nature of the manager. Defensively too, they're suspect and regularly concede so if they don't tighten up it could be to their detriment. History does say they'll give it a good go and probably outperform their odds, and therefore at the prices 40/1 does look a touch generous.
Qatar – 100/1 (bet365)
2022 World Cup hosts Qatar are one of the two ‘guest' teams to feature at this years Copa America. From the outside you'd naturally imagine a small nation like Qatar to have a poor football team and that probably was the case around ten years ago. In recent times though they're becoming a force to be taken seriously.
Al-Anabbi beat Japan in the Asian Cup final just a few months ago, conceding just the single goal in the entire tournament. It's a majorly impressive feat and their investment in youth player development is really starting to bare fruit now.
Head Coach Felix Bas has overseen the development of this crop of players in previous roles in the nations youth teams, he has now been appointed first team coach and that looks a sensible move by the hierarchy.
They're a young side with an average age of around 24, Bas usually adopts a 5-3-2 formation, compact and full of running in midfield with Assim Madibo and captain Hassan Al-Haydos. Up front they have pace with Akram Afif and Almoez Ali and they could be a threat on the break.
There are reasons why this team are such long odds though, not least the lack of variety in players. All the 23 man squad are currently playing in the Qatari league and although it is a division that is improving, it is still miles behind the best in the world. It's a league where you get plenty of time on the ball and it's not too physical so it will be a tough test for them being thrown in with the fiery South American's. They've also not competed with this level of quality before so it's hard to have anything to go off.
On the whole I do think this side may surprise a few onlookers and given their strong defensive record I'd be looking at low scoring games and trying to possibly get with them on the handicaps if the prices look too heavily skewed against them. Many will be expecting them to lose all three group games but I wouldn't be surprised if they managed to get a point at least.
- 1 – Colombia
- 2 – Argentina
- 3 – Paraguay
- 4 – Qatar
Colombia look to have a strong squad in all areas of the pitch and they've a nice mix of youth and experience. They have an in form striker in Duvan Zapata and they should score quite a few goals. With most defences in this competition looking suspect then they could benefit with an attacking approach however Carlos Queiroz brings an organised set up which we saw with his Iran side at the World Cup. At 9/1 I think they look worthy of a bit of each way interest in the winner market.