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Copa America 2019 Q+A: No Neymar for hosts Brazil but how will they cope?

For those of you missing competitive football and longing for the start of next season, fear not. The 2019 Copa America gets underway in the early hours of Saturday morning.

There will be no Neymar for hosts Brazil but there are still so many questions to answer. Will Lionel Messi finally win an international tournament? Can Brazil’s samba stars lift the trophy for the first time in 12 years and are Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani capable of firing Uruguay to glory?

Here, Sportsmail answers some of the key questions surrounding the tournament as South America prepares for another festival of football.

Brazil are hosting the 2019 Copa America tournament and are hard at work in training

WHERE IS THE TOURNAMENT BEING HELD?

Brazil bagged the rights to host the tournament in 2015 but swapped with Chile for this edition due to also organising the 2014 World Cup and then the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It will be the fifth Copa America to be held in Brazil, the first since 1989, and the hosts have not lost the tournament when played on home soil.

Four of the stadiums being used also featured during the World Cup five years ago (the Maracana, Arena Corinthians, Estadio Mineriao and Itaipava Fonte Nova Arena), along with two new additions in the form of Estadio do Morumbi and Arena Gremio.

Brazil launch the tournament against Bolivia at Estadio do Morumbi at 1.30am (BST) on Saturday morning and the action concludes on July 7 at the Maracana.

Four stadiums being used also featured during the 2014 World Cup - including the Maracana

Four stadiums being used also featured during the 2014 World Cup – including the Maracana

WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES?

Brazil or Argentina inevitably rank as the odds on favourites, however the hosts have not claimed the trophy since 2007 and Argentina’s woes stretch back to 1993.

Chile are in fact the reigning champions after defeating Argentina in 2016 on penalties, a repeat of the 2015 edition which the Chileans prevailed in again.

Uruguay are the most successful side, having been triumphant on 15 occasions but have not tasted victory since 2011. Argentina are second with 14 titles, Brazil third with eight.

Lionel Messi and his Argentina team-mates are one of the favourites to lift the trophy

Lionel Messi and his Argentina team-mates are one of the favourites to lift the trophy

WHAT ARE THEIR CHANCES LIKE?

Brazil’s blatant problem is the absence of talisman Neymar after the Paris Saint-Germain forward suffered ligament damage in a friendly against Qatar. His 26 goals for club and country last season will be missed but head coach Tite has an abundant of attacking options.

Plenty of Premier League stars offer an option, such as Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City or Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino and many believe it’s the time of Barcelona’s forgotten man Philippe Coutinho to fill the void. Their group appears to be extremely favourable and anything other than finishing as group winners would be a failure.

With one former Barcelona player out of the tournament, it’s time for a current idol to take centre stage. Lionel Messi will lead La Albiceleste out against Colombia in their opening game, intent on finally lifting silverware at senior international level. The prospect of Messi, Sergio Augero and Paulo Dybala upfront is a frightening one.

With men either side of him, Neymar had to take all of his weight off the injured right ankle

With men either side of him, Neymar had to take all of his weight off the injured right ankle

WHO ARE THE OUTSIDERS?

Chile will count themselves unlucky not to be among the front runners as the current holders. However, they enter with just five wins from 13 games under new coach Reinaldo Rueda and Alexis Sanchez’s shaky form for Manchester United will be a concern.

Uruguay can be quietly confident of their chances, especially with the deadly duo of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani leading the line and Diego Godin at the heart of the defence.

Colombia also have potential to cause problems through their own standout-names of Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez.

Uruguay can be quietly confident of their chances, especially with Luis Suarez (L) up front

Uruguay can be quietly confident of their chances, especially with Luis Suarez (L) up front

WHAT ABOUT THE REST?

Japan, one of two invited teams, have 17 uncapped players in their 23-man squad and have the element of surprise on their hands. One of either Bolivia, Venezuela or Peru should join Brazil in progressing from Group A.

Qatar’s stunning Asian Cup win in February cannot be overlooked as a team aiming to overachieve again and they will be hoping to make the most of their invitation into the tournament.

Paraguay have pedigree by reaching two semi-finals in the past three tournaments, leaving Ecuador as the outside bet.

WHO SHOULD WE WATCH OUT FOR?

Miguel Almiron: Newcastle’s record signing made a bright impact at St James’ Park and will look to do the same with Paraguay.

Giovani Lo Celso: If Tottenham are willing to spend money on someone, they must be half decent! Argentina’s midfielder spent a season on loan at Real Betis and has been linked with a switch to Spurs.

Takefusa Kubo: The youngest player at the Copa America has a lot to live up to: he trialled with Barca when he was 11, was dubbed the ‘Japanese Messi’ and has just signed for Real Madrid.

Real Madrid have signed midfielder Takefusa Kubo from FC Tokyo and he will play for Japan

Real Madrid have signed midfielder Takefusa Kubo from FC Tokyo and he will play for Japan

WHERE CAN I WATCH THE GAMES?

All Copa America ties will be broadcast live on Premier Sports 1 and 2, which Sky and Virgin Media customers can add to their subscriptions for £9.99 per month.

Premier Player will also offer an online streaming service that can be bought independently regardless of your TV Provider.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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