Copa America Prediction: Samba or Last Tango in Peru?
What a pleasant surprise. Despite initial worries about poor quality,
Copa America viewers have been treated to magnificent tournament. The
Spanish-language broadcasts featuring announcers belting ‘Gol, Gol, Gol,
Gol, Goooooooooooooool’ certainly helped. But the quality of play on the
pitch was equally dramatic.
Giants Argentina and Brazil face off in the final. The Argentines have
taken a record 14 Copa America titles, but they haven’t won it since
1993. Since then, the highest they have placed is fifth. Argentina
skipped the 2001 Copa in Colombia for ‘security reasons’.
This will be Brazil’s fourth final in nine years. But with six
victories, the Brazilians have won comparatively few of these tournaments, and four of those wins were on home soil. Brazil’s worst
result was at the last Copa America in 2001. They lost to Honduras in
the quarterfinal, finishing sixth overall.
Of the few remaining props available, the top goalscorer is most
lopsided. With six goals, Brazil’s Adriano is a bargain at 1:100. His
closest rival, three-goal scorer Javier Saviola of Argentina, is
available at 30:1. Adriano scored six of Brazil’s 11 goals. It’s
tempting to back Saviola to pick up a hat trick against Brazil and tie
Adriano for leading scorer. Among the ‘outsiders’ (as if Saviola weren’t
one himself) are Luis Fabiano of Brazil (50:1) with two goals. Then
there’s Brazil’s Alex (80:1) and Uruguay’s Diego Forlan (80:1), both
with one goal apiece.
Totals bettors will be tempted by the big priced Over 2.5 goals
(available as high as +130). The Over went 5-1 in Argentina’s group. And
with two high scoring and offensive-minded teams, there could easily be
more than two goals in this game. Of course, cup finals tend to be
cautious affairs. But the firepower of these teams, and lack of
attention paid to defence makes this price simply irresistible.
Amazingly, the two South American heavyweights have never met in a Copa
America final. But make no mistake, there is no love lost between them.
The last meeting of these teams -- in a World Cup qualifier two months
ago -- resulted in a 3-0 Brazilian demolition of Argentina. Ronaldo
scored all three goals from the penalty spot. Revenge will certainly be
a factor, but keep in mind that these are different teams from the star
studded squads who met in June.
Over the few remaining dog days of summer, soccer junkies still have the
Asian Cup, Intertoto Cup, Champions League and UEFA Cup qualifiers. The
German Bundesliga kicks off on August 6th, followed by the English
Premiership and the Olympics a week later.
Last week: The money train keeps steaming ahead as we cashed two of our
three Copa picks for a profit of +190 units. We’re 6-3 at the Copa
America, or $3,980 in profit for a dime player. Don’t miss our take on
the final two games of the tournament.
This week's picks:
Copa America - Third Place Game
Game Date: Saturday, July 24, 2004 8:45 PM
Matchup: Colombia vs. Uruguay
Selection: Play on Uruguay
Colombia's record in the group stage was far from convincing. They
scored only 4 goals, and only squeezed past weak teams like Bolivia and
Venezuela with 1-0 wins. In the quarter-finals, Colombia beat Costa Rica
2-0, but the Ticos were by far the worst team at this tournament and
should have stayed home. Uruguay, conversely, faced tough group
opposition, losing to Argentina and drawing with Mexico. But the
Uruguayans still managed to score twice against both of those teams, and
they score an average of 2 gpg. Uruguay are coming off a convincing 3-1
win over Paraguay -- a telling result considering Paraguay, like
Colombia, play very defensively. That strategy should backfire against a
prolific and improving Uruguayan offence. Take Uruguay -0.5/+190
Copa America - Final
Game Date: Sunday, July 25, 2004 4:00 PM
Matchup: Argentina vs. Brazil
Selection: Play on Argentina
The Argentines have been impressive in this tournament; they are clearly
the best team at Copa America, scoring nearly 3 gpg. They produced
dominant performances against Colombia, Uruguay and Ecuador and have
improved by leaps and bounds with each match. While Brazil had enough
quality to field a second string side and still reach the final, they
face a tough task against Argentina. In the group stage, Brazil only
edged past Chile 1-0, and lost to Paraguay 2-1. Particularly worrying
was their 1-1 draw with Uruguay, which forced overtime in the semi-finals. Argentina have beaten Brazil in 8 of their 9 Copa meetings.
And Argentina have won more Copa Americas (14) than any other nation.
Expect them to build on that record against Brazil. Take Argentina