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Copa America 2015 preview: Group B

Argentina

FIFA World Rank: 3

Tata Martino replaced Alejandro Sabella as coach, after Argentina lost to Germany in the World Cup final last year. In Martino’s 1st match in-charge, Argentina defeated Germany in a friendly. Martino has also recalled Carlos Tevez and Nicolas Otamendi, because of their excellent club form. As always, the Argentina side will be designed around Messi, who had a phenomenal season for Barcelona.

Expectation: Argentina remain the perennial favourites in every tournament they participate, fans expect no less, and so does their coach.

Strength: Besides Messi, they are proven match-winners in Tevez & Aguero, as well as a strong back four of Zabaleta, Otamendi, Demichelis and Marcos Rojo.

Weakness: The Argentines have always failed to play as a collective in the big matches. They need to start playing as a team when they face teams like Colombia and Brazil later in the knockout stages.

Players to watch: All of them, really.

Copa America record: Winners – 14, Runners-up – 12

Copa America 2011 finish: Quarterfinals

Coach: Gerardo Martino

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero, Nahuel Guzman and Mariano Andujar

Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta, Facundo Roncaglia, Ezequiel Garay, Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo and Milton Casco

Midfielders: Lucas Biglia, Roberto Pereyra, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Gago, Ever Banega, Javier Pastore, Erik Lamela and Angel Di Maria

Forwards: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi 

Paraguay

FIFA World Rank: 85

The runners-up of Copa America 2011 will play under coach Ramon Diaz who has retained 100-cap veterans Justo Villar, Roque Santa Cruz & Paulo da Silva. Diaz was appointed in 2014 after Paraguay finished bottom of the table in their World Cup qualifying campaign. He is trying to revamp his squad by introducing younger players such as Richard Ortiz, Derlis Gonzalez and Raul Bobadilla. Gonzalez is the talk of the tournament after shining for FC Basel in the 2014-15 Champions League.

Expectation: Paraguay are yet to hit top form, their record in the recent friendlies have been mixed. They might just progress as one of the best 3rd-placed sides.

Strength: If Raul Bobadilla and Lucas Barrios play well here as they did for their clubs this season, they will form a formidable duo upfront.

Weakness: They are still a team in the making, and with their unimpressive record in the friendlies this year, work seems to be cut out for Ramon Diaz.

Players to watch: Raul Bobadilla, Derlis Gonzalez

Copa America record: Winner – 2, Runners-up – 6

Copa America 2011 finish: Runners-up

Coach: Ramon Diaz

Goalkeepers: Alfredo Aguilar, Anthony Silva, Justo Villar

Defenders: Pablo Aguilar, Fabian Balbuena, Marcos Caceres, Paulo Da Silva, Ivan Piris, Miguel Samudio, Bruno Valdez

Midfielders: Eduardo Aranda, Victor Caceres, Osvaldo Martinez, Osmar Molinas, Nestor Ortigoza, Richard Ortiz, Oscar Romero

Forwards: Lucas Barrios, Edgar Benitez, Raul Bobadilla, Derlis Gonzalez, Nelson Haedo Valdez, Roque Santa Cruz

Uruguay

FIFA World Rank: 8

Oscar Tabarez has been at the helm of Uruguay since 2006, and he knows his team inside-out. He has kept his squad mostly unchanged since the last World Cup, despite the absence of Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Marin Caceres. The void in attack left by Suarez’ suspension will be filled in by Edinson Cavani. He will be supported in attack by youngsters Giorgian de Arrasceta and Diego Rolan, with the midfield duo of Cristian Rodriguez and Nicolas Lodeiro behind them.

Expectation: Although Uruguay is not what they used to be like for the past 5 years, they are still a very competitive team. They will definitely finish at least 2nd in their group.

Strength: The consistency in the line-ups of their midfield and defence means that they will play with more cohesion compared to other teams, this might be their key to succeed in this tournament.

Weakness: The absence of Caceres in defence will mean they might let in that extra goal, and the absence of Suarez upfront will mean they might not be able to score that extra goal.

Players to watch: Edinson Cavani, Giorgian de Arrasceata

Copa America record: Winners – 15, Runners-up – 6

Copa America 2011 finish: Winners

Coach: Oscar Tabarez

Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera, Martin Silva, Rodrigo Munoz

Defenders: Maxi Pereira, Jose Maria Gimenez, Diego Godin, Sebastian Coates, Gaston Silva, Jorge Fucile

Midfielders: Alvaro Pereira, Mathias Corujo, Guzman Pereira, Alvaro Gonzalez, Carlos Sanchez, Egidio Arevalo Rios, Nicolas Lodeiro, Cristian Rodriguez

Forwards: Giorgian de Arrascaeta, Cristhian Stuani, Abel Hernandez, Edinson Cavani, Diego Rolan, Jonathan Rodriguez

Jamaica

FIFA World Rank: 65

The 2nd invitee to the Copa America, Jamaica are making their debut in this tournament. Winfried Schafer has selected a squad which boasts of athletic and hard-working, if not technically gifted players. Most of these players ply their trade in the England, USA and Canada. The Reggae Boyz come to this tournament after they won the Caribbean Cup last year, as well as a victory over Venezuela in a friendly match this year.

Expectation: Uruguay and Paraguay must be wary of Jamaica, as they are the ones who stand to lose if Jamaica scores a point off of any team in their group.

Strength: They defend deep, they are athletic, hard-working and a very young side, which means they will always hit hard on the counter-attack when older legs get too tired to track back in time.

Weakness:  As they don’t have any major experience of playing against top teams on a competitive level, being in a group with the previous Copa finalists and the World Cup finalists do not bode well.

Players to watch: Rodolph Austin, Darren Mattocks

Coach: Winfried Schafer

Goalkeepers: Ryan Thompson, Duwayne Kerr, Dwayne Miller

Defenders:  Wes Morgan, Jermaine Taylor, Michael Hector, Daniel Gordon, Adrian Mariappa, Hughan Gray, Kemar Lawrence

Midfielders: Je-Vaughn Watson, Rodolph Austin, Joel Grant, Lance Laing, Garath McCleary, Joel McAnuff

Forwards: Allan Ottey, Giles Barnes, Darren Mattocks, Simon Dawkins, Deshorn Brown, Romeo Parkes, Dino Williams

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