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2024 Copa America contenders: Argentina are out in front and look strong even with Lionel Messi injury worries

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This summer is not just about UEFA Euro 2024 and the Olympics, but there is also Copa America which is coming Stateside. South America’s top regional international competition is also going to feature North American representation with the USMNT the host nation and Mexico obvious regional powers from CONCACAF with Canada still possibly entering via the playoffs which will be decided Saturday. The U.S. and El Tri are already set in terms of their groups but neither are obvious favorites for the title from the off despite an obvious geographic advantage in terms of home support — not that many of the South American nations will be underrepresented. So who are the teams that we should consider contenders of varying categories?

Playoffs

  • Canada vs. Trinidad and Tobago
  • Costa Rica vs. Honduras

Favorites

Leading the way by quite a fair stretch so far are world champions Argentina who not only have that title going for them but are also leading the CONMEBOL section after six games played. Lionel Messi is now based in the U.S. with Inter Miami and the way that Major League Soccer has reached fever pitch with his arrival suggests that this summer will be more of that same carnival atmosphere. Lionel Scaloni is still in charge despite some questions over his long-term future and the likes of Angel di Maria continue to feature strongly despite Messi’s recent injury worries. Based on current form and momentum,not to mention a fairly favorable Group A alongside Peru and Chile, the Albiceleste should make a deep run and are therefore considered the strong favorites for this title.

Chasing Pack

Normally, Argentina and Brazil would be considered more or less joint favorites for this competition but the Brazilians have had a dreadful time of things since Tite moved on as head coach. The Selecao have lurched from one disaster to the next and they are barely in contention for 2026 World Cup qualification in the CONMEBOL zone as things stand. Dorival Junior is now in charge and tasked with turning this team around after Carlo Ancelotti opted to stay with Real Madrid having been chosen ahead of the likes of Zinedine Zidane as the main candidate of choice to be Tite’s long-term replacement. With Neymar injured and effectively ruled out already, the Samba stars need a new talisman an unenviable task right now ahead of what could be a tricky Group D with Colombia and Paraguay. That said, a possible uptick in form under Dorival Junior could see Brazil emerge as contenders and they are on the opposite side of the bracket to Argentina regardless of winning or finishing second in their groups.

Another name to consider for the title more based on home support than anything else is the USMNT who have landed in a favorable Group C with Uruguay arguably the biggest threat ahead of Panama and Bolivia. Arlington, Atlanta and Kansas City should see Gregg Berhalter’s men enjoy considerable backing which could spur them on to the knockout phase at which point they could come up against Brazil who we have already established are not exactly strong favorites for the title as they usually might be. The U.S. will need a lot to go their way in order to reach the final, but should be grateful that they do not have Mexico’s route to the Miami final which would require El Tri to oust Argentina in order to make it.

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Dark Horses

Hence why the Mexicans should be considered largely dark horses instead along with the likes of Uruguay and Colombia. Mexico can and arguably should finish top of Group B which would theoretically put them up against the Peruvians or Chileans but any possible unexpected outcomes in Group A or B could easily result in the Argentinians and El Tri crossing paths in Houston for the quarterfinals. Avoid that and a semifinal outing could really be a possibility for Jaime Lozano’s men. The Uruguayans and Colombians have it a bit harder with Marcelo Bielsa’s side up against hosts USMNT and Nestor Lorenzo’s troops meeting Brazil but they are equally two of CONMEBOL’s three top sides right now in 2026 World Cup qualification. Do not be surprised if one or both of those South American outfits end up in the latter stages as wildcards just in case this Copa America decides to pump up the chaos and shake up the field with some unexpected results.

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