5 Reasons to Look Forward to Copa America

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor INovember 25, 2014

5 Reasons to Look Forward to Copa America

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    Luis Hidalgo/Associated Press

    The Copa America draw took place on Monday evening in Santiago, setting the stage for three weeks of high-octane entertainment in South America next summer.

    The oldest continental international competition, the Copa America is predictable solely for its unpredictability and has regularly showcased some of the world's best talents over the course of the competition's history.

    The 2015 edition should provide an indication of how side's are moving on as the 2018 World Cup cycle gathers pace and, with a further Copa America scheduled in 2016, will provide momentum heading into a second tournament next year.

    But just what is it which makes the Copa America so special?

6 of 12 Sides Among the World's Elite

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The current FIFA World Rankings list five sides who will attend the 2015 Copa America among the world's top 15, with Mexico just two places further back in 17th.

    In a tournament of 12 sides, that is a high density of top-class competition while the likes of Ecuador are far from a walkover in their current state. South America's minnows are rapidly improving, as Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru showed at the last tournament.

    With Brazil-Colombia and Argentina-Uruguay among the group-stage clashes, the big games begin early on and the tournament's compact three-group structure means they continue to stack up. For the neutral, it is a brilliant watch.

Messi, Neymar and James Rodriguez Will Be There

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    USA TODAY Sports

    One of the reasons the Copa America is so great to watch is the incredible array of stars on show, with Lionel Messi, Neymar and James Rodriguez set to dominate the agenda leading into the competition.

    The support cast isn't bad, either, but it will be the three leading lights whose World Cup performances garnered so much acclaim who draw the most viewers.

    While all three are seen live in La Liga week after week, there is something very special about international tournament play, with players representing an entire nation.

    It is on such stages that legends are made and for one of the three leading names a first Copa America title could await.

Sampaoli's Chile Aiming for the Title on Home Soil

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Jorge Sampaoli's Chile were one of the standout sides of the 2014 World Cup and have built a fearsome reputation for their modern style of high-pressing play.

    Chile, though, crashed out of that competition earlier than they would have hoped at the hands of Brazil and will be hoping that a better result awaits on home soil. However, that in itself brings great pressures.

    Sampaoli is unlikely to lead La Roja through the next four-year cycle and it may well be that he sees this summer's tournament as the best time to move on from his role. Chile will be desperate to perform well and the hope must be that they finally come good on turning their bold and modern style into success.

Intense Rivalries at Every Turn

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    While much attention will be heaped on Brazil-Argentina as a possible final of the Copa America and the continent's most famous clash, one of the Copa America's biggest selling points is the passionate rivalries many teams in the tournament have with their opponents.

    In Argentina's Group B, for example, a three-way matchup with great history and tradition between the Albiceleste, Uruguay and Paraguay will guarantee passion. Irrespective of their individual qualities, none will be willing to concede a step to their opponents.

    The byproduct of such passion is that hostilities can often overstep the mark and clashes could break out, with red cards a common occurrence. For the worldwide audience, such scenes (while unacceptable) are always a good watch.

There's Always a Good Chance of Something Unexpected Occuring

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    While pitch invaders are unlikely to be an issue, the golden rule with South American football is always to expect the unexpected. While aggression and fights could be an issue, as mentioned, that is just the start of what could begin to go wrong.

    Regular watchers of football in the Copa Libertadores, for example, will note the regularity with which floodlight failure occurs, or animals of various guises somehow finding their way onto the playing surface. Such events have become trademarks of the competition.

    The Copa America should, in theory, be less prone to such issues but nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to South American football. Anything could happen and that is exactly why you should watch!


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