Recent turmoil around Copa America 2021
CONMEBOL has changed the venues for the 2021 Copa America, selecting Brazil after dropping Colombia as hosts due to civil unrest, and Argentina due to an upswing in Covid cases, according to Reuters, ESPN, and Fox Sports.
Given this flux, please note that all that follows is as accurate as is possible at the time of publication (for example CONMEBOL’s website does not have the same game schedule as do the Univision or Fox Sports websites).
The reason for holding the Copa at all was given by CONMEBOL as “wanting to have the tourney coincide with the quadrennial Euro.”
Persistent rumors about Copa America 2021
The fact that to hold Copa America in 2020(21) after playing 2015, 2016, and 2019 versions made little sense, when they could have instead simply waited for 2024, seemed to have been rejected for what some have suspected is the “Messi effect.” In 2024, Argentina’s Lionel Messi will be 37 and possibly somewhat diminished in prowess, while this year he turns 34 and still seems able to perform magic at will.
The idea that a “Messi coronation” in Argentina was planned and has now been derailed, was also floated and seems corroborated by the fact that a number of South American players who had decided to call it quits on participating in what they felt could be a sham tournament have now emerged out of the woodwork seemingly able and willing to don their national team uniforms to compete in a location they feel might yield a true, earned-on-the-pitch Copa champion.
Brazil as hosts
The tournament will be played at the Maracana Stadium (Rio de Janeiro, capacity 74,738, site of the final), Nilton Santos Stadium (Rio, capacity 46,931), National Mane Garrincha stadium (Brasilia, capacity 72,788, site of the opening match), Arena Pantanal (Cuiaba, capacity 41,390) and Olympic Stadium (Goiania, capacity 13,500). The Brazilian federal government will provide the support necessary to enable all tournament logistics and security and as of this writing, there will be no fans at the venues. Each national delegation will be capped at 65 members including players, coaches, and others, and all participants, officials included, must be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Pundits’ favored teams
Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Uruguay are the oddsmakers’ consensus ranked-ordered favorites to win the Copa. Ole, an Argentine media outlet, lets fans vote in favor of their overall choice to win the Copa, and as of today, it has it at 56% pro Brazil, 37% pro Argentina, and 2% pro Uruguay, with no other team receiving votes. Spain’s Marca has it at Brazil and Argentina with Colombia and Uruguay as dark horse choices. In Brazil, the favorites are the hosts, followed by Argentina.
Copa America 2021 Teams, Rules, and Groups
The originally constructed groups will remain but the schedule of matches will change. The two groups will yield four teams (only one gets eliminated) and should teams be tied on points the tiebreakers are goal differential, goals scored, and finally head-to-head results. The subsequent pairings of progressing teams will result in eight teams in a knockout competition in the quarterfinals, with the four winners moving onto the semifinals and the two winners reaching the finals. There will be no extra time until the final, with all previous knockout matches going straight to penalties. In the final, if after extra time the teams are still tied then you go to a penalty shootout. Yellow card accumulations (two earning a one-game suspension) get reset after the Quarterfinals.
In the Quarterfinals, match 24 pits the winner of Group A plays against the 4th in Group B, in match 23, the runner-up in Group A plays the 3rd team in Group B, in match 22, the winner of Group B would play the fourth-placed team in Group A, and in match 21, the runner-up in Group B would play the 3rd placed team in Group A.
One semifinal would pair the winners of matches 21 and 22 and the other the winners of matches 23 and 24, with the respective winners reaching the finals.
Television and Streaming coverage
TV Channel/Stream: Fox Sports and Univision
Live updates and stats: Every reputable online soccer news and general news website
Brazil vs. Venezuela, 5 p.m.
Colombia vs. Ecuador, 8 p.m.
Ecuador vs. Brazil, 5 p.m.
Venezuela vs. Peru, 8 p.m.
(All times USA-EDT)