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Everyone is talking about the big two, but the continental giants should be very wary of the quartet of countries eager to make an impression in this summer's tournament

FEATURE
By Ralph Hannah

At this year’s Copa America there are several teams ready to shock those who think a third straight Brazil vs Argentina final is a foregone conclusion. While the traditional South American powerhouses have the two strongest squads on paper there are a host of nations plotting their own path to glory at the world’s oldest international tournament.

The squads contain household names on the team sheets at top European clubs, from Europa League champions Porto to FA Cup winners Manchester City , they include players with championship medals in Italy, the Netherlands and Germany. They combine attacking flair, defensive solidity and international experience to be more than a match for the Copa America hosts and holders.

The following four teams are Goal.com's picks as the quartet to challenge the established order at this year’s championship. One by one we assess why the name on the trophy could be one of Chile, Colombia, Paraguay or Uruguay. Argentina and Brazil beware, because these countries could well spring a shock over the next month.

CHILE (GROUP C)

COPA 2011 PROFILE
Coach: Claudio Borghi

Players to Watch:

Alexis Sanchez
Arturo Vidal
Matias Fernandez

Best Finish: 2nd

2007 Copa:
19

FIFA Ranking:
13



Chile in five words:  Borghi's boys can spring surprise
Copa shock or Copa flop? Winning Group C is imperative to avoid an Argentina last eight clash

Barcelona-bound Alexis Sanchez is just one member of the array of offensive talent on show in Claudio Borghi’s exciting side. Monterrey hit man Humberto Suazo has a fantastic goal scoring record and they have creative power in Luis Jimenez and Matias Fernandez of Cesena and Sporting Lisbon respectively.

The midfield steel is epitomised by Bayern Munich target Arturo Vidal, currently at Leverkusen, who forms an intimidating partnership with ‘The Chilean Gattuso’ Gary Medel, a midfielder who recently secured a big-money move to Sevilla. Chile are one of three CONMEBOL sides never to win the competition and they would love to change that in their neighbour’s backyard.

Moreover, the players owe it to their fans after a late night drinking session by some members of the squad saw them crash to a heavy 6-1 defeat against Brazil at the last Copa America in Venezuela.

COLOMBIA (GROUP A)

COPA 2011 PROFILE

Coach:
Hernan Gomez

Players to Watch:
Radamel Falcao
Cristian Zapata
Mario Yepes


Best Finish: Winners (1)

2007 Copa:
1st Round

FIFA Ranking:
49


In five words: Great defence, need some goals
Copa shock or Copa flop? Argentina clash is crucial, as is getting the ball to their brilliant forwards

Radamel Falcao made light work of some of the best European defences last season and could threaten a far from convincing Argentine back four when they meet in the group stages. In midfield, his Porto teammate Fredy Guarin will be a constant threat from long range and their back line is solid with Serie A trio Juan Zuniga, Cristian Zapata and Mario Yepes providing both quality and top level experience.

Colombia have the best win ratio in Copa America matches in Argentina of all the competing teams, 75 per cent, and they even beat Argentina in their last Copa America meeting there, the 1987 third place playoff at River Plate’s Monumental stadium. Not to mention a famous 5-0 victory back in 1993 which still haunts Albiceleste fans.

If Falcao and Hugo Rodallega aren’t on song then don’t despair, they have Jaguares striker Jackson Martinez who has scored four goals in his first eight international appearances and the talented Teofilio Gutierrez who finished top scorer in the Argentine Clausura this year with Racing.

PARAGUAY (GROUP B)

COPA 2011 PROFILE
Coach: Gerardo Martino

Players to Watch:

Lucas Barrios
Justo Villar
Enrique Vera

Best Finish: Winners (2)

2007 Copa:
Quarters

FIFA Ranking:
23



In five words:  No glitter, but rock-solid
Copa shock or Copa flop?  If they can upset Brazil in Group B, the tournament could turn their way

The small but spirited nation matched Brazil and Argentina’s quarter-final finishes in South Africa last year and are supremely confident going into this year’s competition.

They start the tournament on the back of four consecutive clean sheets thanks to a well-drilled defence in front of captain and goalkeeper Justo Villar. The team is also full of attacking intent, the coach Gerardo Martino is expected to field a 4-3-3 formation intent on high pressing and unsettling rival teams from the off.

Bundesliga champion Lucas Barrios and Man City star Roque Santa Cruz will be the key figures, but watch out for either Marcelo Estigarribia of Le Mans (on loan at Newell’s Old Boys) or Osvaldo Martinez of Monterrey who have both performed impressively as the link-man between midfield and attack. The Guarani face Brazil in their second Group B encounter and will have no fear in taking the game to them.

URUGUAY (GROUP C)

COPA 2011 PROFILE
Coach: Oscar Tabarez

Players to Watch:

Luis Suarez
Diego Forlan
Edinson Cavani

Best Finish: Winners (14)

2007 Copa:
19

FIFA Ranking:
18



In five words: Attacking trio need to fire
Copa shock or Copa flop? Potential semi vs. Brazil, from there anything is possible

The World Cup semi-finalists have retained much of the stars from South Africa and have serious Copa America pedigree. Along with Argentina they hold the record for the number of tournament wins, 14, as they cross the Rio de la Plata with high hopes. Diego Forlan will want to shake off recent rumours surrounding his private life to emulate the match winning performances that earned him the Golden Ball at the 2010 World Cup.

His strike partner Edinson Cavani comes into the tournament on the back of his most prolific season at Napoli, he chalked up 26 goals in 32 starts to finish second in the Serie A scoring charts. If that isn’t enough they have Liverpool’s Luis Suarez also on a hot streak of form who will look forward to rejoining forces with his former colleague at Ajax, Nicolas Lodeiro.

There is also stability in the squad. Along with Paraguay they are the only team with five squad members who have more than 50 caps, and they boast the longest serving manager at the tournament in Oscar Tabarez.

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Radamel Falcao made light work of some of the best European defences and could threaten a far from
convincing Argentine back four when they meet in the group stages. In midfield his Porto teammate
Fredy Guarin will be a constant threat from long range and their back line is solid with Serie A trio Juan
Zuniga, Cristian Zapata and Mario Yepes providing both quality and top level experience. Colombia
have the best win ratio in Copa America matches in Argentina of all the competing teams, 75%, and
they even beat Argentina in their last Copa America meeting there, the 1987 third place playoff at River
Plate’s Monumental stadium. If Falcao and Hugo Rodallega aren’t on song then don’t despair, they have
Jaguares striker Jackson Martinez who has scored four goals in his first eight international appearances
and the talented Teofilio Gutierrez who finished top scorer in the Argentinian Clausura this year with
Racing.The small but spirited nation matched Brazil and Argentina’s quarter-final finishes in South Africa last year and are supremely confident going into this year’s competition.

They start the tournament on the back of four consecutive cleansheets thanks to a well drilled defence in front of captain and goalkeeper Justo Villar. However the team is full of attacking intent, the coach Gerardo Martino is expected to field a 4-3-3 formation intent on high pressing and unsettling rival teams from the off.

Bundesliga champion Lucas Barrios and Man City star Roque Santa Cruz will be the key figures, but watch out for the link player between midfield and attack, either Marcelo Estigarribia of Le Mans (on loan at Newell’s Old Boys) or Osvaldo Martinez of Monterrey who have both filled that role competently in recent games. They play Brazil in their second Group B encounter and will have no fear in taking the game to them.

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