Mexico (+155) vs Uruguay (+195), Draw (+215)
Two teams hoping for a deep run in the Copa America Centenario will clash this Sunday when Mexico and Uruguay face off in Group C action at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona (8:00 PM Eastern).
Though they lack the world-power reputation of continental rivals Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay have actually amassed the most titles in the hundred-year history of the Copa America tournament (15). Their last crown came in 2011 when the tournament was held in Argentina.
This time around, they are listed at respectable 8/1 odds to win, but they’ll likely have some issues early in the tournament. Luis Suarez, arguably the best striker in the world at the moment, won’t be in the lineup for at least the first two games (hamstring). The Barcelona star was injured in the team’s Copa del Rey win three weeks ago.
Uruguay aren’t the deepest side, but even without Suarez, they have a solid team that knows what it takes to be successful. Back in the 2010 World Cup, coach Oscar Tabarez took them to the final four and then won the Copa America the following year. But that was back when Edinson Cavani was in his prime. Cavani is still a solid player, but his role as the team’s go-to scorer has largely been usurped by the younger Suarez.
Cavani and company will have a stiff test on their hands right out of the gate, facing a Mexican team that narrowly trails them in the odds (9/1). The Mexicans have yet to lift the Copa’s championship trophy in nine tournament appearances, but they should benefit from de facto home-field advantage in most of their games this time around.
With the tournament being played entirely in the US, Mexican fans will flood the various stadiums. Add in the fact that their team has made strides under new coach Ricardo Osorio, and they are my dark horse pick to win the tournament.
For this first game, I see two teams that are relatively even. Were Suarez not injured, I would roll with Uruguay. But, as things are, I’ll take the draw in what should be one of the most intense games in the 2016 tournament.
Pick: Draw (+215).
(Photo Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].)