Copa America 2015: Analyzing Group-Stage Tables Heading into Last Round of Games

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2015

Brazil's Neymar gets a tissue from a team staff member to block his bleeding nose during a Copa America Group C soccer match against Colombia at the Monumental stadium in Santiago, Chile, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

With Peru beating beating Venezuela on Thursday, every country in the 2015 Copa America has now played two matches, with the third and final set of group-stage matches to commence this weekend.

The schedule for the next three days is relatively straightforward. Group A kicks off on Friday and Groups B and C will start on the following Saturday and Sunday respectively.

So far, the tournament hasn't provided a ton of scoring—this past Monday aside—but that doesn't mean the spectacle of the 2015 Copa America has been diminished.

With quarterfinal places on the line, the next three days should provide more than enough excitement for football fans across the globe.

Group Tables

Group A
Group B
Group C

Group-Stage Analysis

Andre Penner/Associated Press

You can't focus on the group-stage standings without first turning your eye toward Group C. Following Peru's 1-0 win over Venezuela, all four teams in Group C have three points and a zero goal differential. The tiebreakers used after goal differential are number of goals scored and then head-to-head result.

That explains why Brazil are ahead of Peru and Venezuela sit above Colombia.

Despite them standing atop Group C, Brazil are looked upon by some as a bit of a disappointment so far at the Copa America—a continuation of their disastrous 2014 World Cup run. Making matters worse for the Brazilians is Neymar's red card in a 1-0 defeat to Colombia. He'll likely be out for his team's match with Venezuela.

Brazil right-back Dani Alves post-match comments following the Colombia match echoed the same sentiments Brazil espoused after Neymar's injury last summer.

"They know the personality of Neymar and they went in search of him," Alves said, per the Agence France-Presse (via ESPN FC). "They tried to provoke him and make him nervous."

A critic would point to the fact that Brazil had 20 fouls in that match. They bullied Colombia just as much as Colombia bullied them.

The Guardian's Jonathan Wilson wrote a lengthy diagnosis of Brazil's biggest issues. He focused on two main issues: An inability for Brazil to recognize and reflect upon their own failings and an over-reliance on Neymar:

This is the same arrogance, the same refusal to accept that others are allowed to try to stop them, that undermined Brazil last year; it is the self-delusion of a nation that harks back to past glories and blames opponents for its failure to live up to them.

It may be that being without their one idol forces other Brazil players to take responsibility, that they are not burdened by the constant thought that their task is to give the ball to Neymar, but on the evidence both of the World Cup and this tournament so far, without him they are desperately short of attacking options.

Maybe Brazil can thrive without Neymar—Bill Simmons' famous "Ewing Theory" in action. As Wilson notes, history points in a different direction.

In a way, an early Copa America exit might be the best thing for Brazil. Between that and their embarrassing defeat to Germany, the Brazil Football Confederation might be forced to address the systemic issues that plague the national team.

Shifting gears to Group A, Chile should be able to advance since the hosts have Bolivia in their next match.

Bolivia can be extremely tough to beat on home soil. Nobody enjoys playing in La Paz at elevation. Get Bolivia away from home, and they're a much more pedestrian side, as evidenced by their FIFA ranking of 89th, the lowest of any CONMEBOL country.

Chile do, however, have a massive distraction in the form of Arturo Vidal's car accident, during which he was drunk driving. Shortly thereafter, he issued an emotional apology, per beIN Sports:

According to Argentine football expert Sam Kelly, he'll remain with the national team:

While Vidal's off-field issues shouldn't affect the team on the whole, it does add an unnecessary diversion to Chile's pre-match preparations for Friday.

Mexico vs. Ecuador will be a slightly more intriguing match simply in terms of on-field action, but you have to question El Tri's chances. Coach Miguel Herrera is forced to juggle both the Copa America and Gold Cup this summer. Ultimately, he's prioritizing the Gold Cup, a much more winnable competition for his team.

Mexico will need at least a point in order to be one of the top third-place finishers, and that might be hard against a tough Ecuador side.

Argentina should be able to capture Group B. Although they haven't looked their best, even an Argentina at about 70 percent effectiveness should beat Jamaica.

The absence of Luis Suarez continues to loom large for Uruguay, who labored in a 1-0 win over Jamaica and lost 1-0 to Argentina. They are still arguably the second-best team in their group.

The beauty of smaller tournaments like the Copa America is that every match seems to carry more importance. Since two third-place finishers will advance to the next round, you also have virtually no fixtures in this last go-round that don't carry some sort of stakes.

That will only heighten the drama this weekend.


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