Even though still a soccer betting favorite to win the Copa America, Brazil may be undercutting its own prospects by focused on adding an Olympic gold medal to its resume – thus becoming only the second country to win the World Cup, Confederations Cup, Olympic, U-20, U-17 and continental title sextuple. Case in point: leaving Neymar behind so he can play in the Olympic Games in Rio.
Barcelona didn’t want the hard-partying forward to spend his whole summer with his national team, so the Centenario took a backseat. Brazil still remains the Group B favorite of people who bet on soccer and features a talented midfield that is among the best in the competition, but the lack of notable goal-scoring prowess could spell trouble in the knockout stages.
Ecuador is the heavy soccer betting favorite to join Brazil in the quarterfinals. One of only two CONMEBOL countries that has never won the Copa America, Ecuador is a dangerous presence making its region’s World Cup qualifying competitors concerned. They won in Buenos Aires in October, defeated Uruguay the next month and now is tied in first place with Argentina. Antonio Valencia, Michael Arroyo, and Jefferson Montero are some of Ecuador’s most dangerous and dynamic midfielders in the tourney. However, the absence of striker Felipe Caicedo due to injury is certain to be felt. Fans who bet on soccer do not expect much from Peru and Haiti. Peru has a young team without the likes of Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfán, while Haiti – which includes six U.S.-based players including five from the NASL – is hoping to earn some respect and leave mark as the tournament’s soccer betting underdog underdog.
Brazil will be hurt by the absence of Neymar and the injured Douglas Costa, and will rely on Willian, a skillful midfielder and Chelsea’s player of the season in 2015-16. Willian has six international goals and will be Brazil’s main attacking weapon. Hulk was one of the scapegoats for Brazil’s car crash-like World Cup downfall, but the hulking Zenit Saint Petersburg striker has had a comeback under coach Dunga and will have to recover his finishing touch, or at least keep defenders busy in the absence of Neymar.
Paolo Guerrero of Peru has the responsibility to score as he does with Flamengo (and formerly did for Bayern Munich). He scored a hat trick in each of the previous two Copa Américas. Johnny Placide of Haiti is a France-born goalkeeper who spent the last season in Ligue 1 with Stade de Reims and stood out at last year’s Gold Cup. His experience and leadership skills will be of huge importance for a team that can’t afford to be star-struck. Antonio Valencia of Ecuador may have lost a step but his return to the Manchester United lineup proved he’s back on track. He helped the Red Devils win the FA Cup and is expected to retain his form with Ecuador.