The third day of the Copa América Centenario is here, and with it one of the most anticipated games of the group stage.
Jamaica vs. Venezuela is gonna be a barnburner.
Oh, wait -- I'm sorry, I meant Mexico vs. Uruguay. Although it would be much the nature of things if Jamaica-Venezuela did turn out to be the stud of Sunday's action, and Mexico-Uruguay was the dud.
What to watch for on day 3 of the Copa América:
Jamaica vs. Venezuela, 2 pm PT, FOX, Univision, UDN
So far, South American teams have had the better, or equal, of CONCACAF teams in this tournament. Yes, it's only been four games, but it's a pattern for the time being. Can Jamaica break CONCACAF's duck against Venezuela? La Vinotinto have had some recent success in the Copa América belying their traditional minnow status in CONMEBOL, and there is some talent on this roster. But their coach is brand new, World Cup qualifying is going very badly, and the country appears to be in a real crisis at the moment. The stars don't appear to be aligning for Venezuela.
And Jamaica looks like a team capable of building on their 2015 exploits. They were maybe one of the best three-and-out Copa América teams to play in recent memory last year, and that performance likely propelled them to their best-ever Gold Cup finish, falling only in the final to Mexico. It's unclear if they can go to the final this time, but at the very least they appear capable to push Mexico and Uruguay, provided they get a win over Venezuela.
Mexico vs. Uruguay, 5 pm PT, FS1, Univision, UDN
Ok, here's the main draw on Sunday. Mexico are practically a home team at this tournament and know if they don't screw things up they can make a deep run and even win the Copa América. Uruguay are the tiny nation that continues to outperform their means and show the world how to get the most out of what you've got.
But Luis Suarez won't be able to go in this game, as he has a hamstring injury, and that is a massive relief to Mexico. Of course Edinson Cavani is still Uruguayan and certainly is a good player, but he doesn't quite have the same ability to break games open himself. At his best, Suarez can begin to approach Maradonaesque levels, as long as his defense holds up (a strength for Uruguay). Cavani needs the service far more than Suarez does.
Still, Uruguay's defense is legendary, and they've got a long history of just kicking the crap out of opponents when regular defending isn't working. Mexico can beat them, but they aren't likely to get many chances. The result? They need to convert on the first or second try, because they're not likely to get a boatload of looks.
And this game will be interesting because if Mexico performs well, their stock will soar. If they play badly and/or lose, however, the press will be all over them, and more importantly, the fragile psyche that has cropped up at times for this team may return. It's certainly not a make-or-break game for Mexico, but they realize the stakes mean basically every game at this tournament is a final of sorts.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!