Three days of the Copa América Centenario are in the books, and opinions are being made, teams are starting to understand where they sit, and the chugging along of a brisk schedule continues apace.
Only one more group to debut in the tournament! Here's what to watch for with Group D on Monday:
Panama vs. Bolivia, 4 pm PT, FS1, UniMás, UDN
I hate to say it, but this is in contention for weakest game of the tournament. Peru-Haiti probably just edges it, but this one is not going to feature a ton of players you know, unless you're a major diehard of Latin American soccer, or two teams that will make a deep run, unless something goes very, very wrong for the two favorites.
Panama are an ambitious team, and one that will probably be favored in this game in Seattle, since it won't be in altitude, the only thing that Bolivia hangs its hat on nowadays in the international realm. It's a shame for Bolivia, who have dropped so far off their mid-90s heyday, featuring players who helped build MLS. But it also represents an opportunity for Panama to try and grab a win before their next two (extremely difficult) games.
I'd peg this as another low-scoring game, but as I mentioned in a previous preview, at some point there's going to be a real shootout. The Mexico-Uruguay game was a good one, but I can't wait for one where the teams are really trading goals. Maybe this is the game?
Argentina vs. Chile, 7 pm PT, FS1, UniMás, UDN
So here's a tasty game to end the first matchday of the tournament. The finalists from last year's Copa, now playing in their opening games of this edition. Can Chile get the better of Argentina again?
It looks like their chances are increased by the anticipated absence of Lionel Messi in this game, due to a back injury. That's a shame in one respect, since who doesn't want to see Messi every chance they can? But it might (I emphasize the word might) be a blessing in disguise. If he can get healthy, assuming Argentina have the ability to get out of this group (and if they didn't, it would be a monumental failure), then he may be in better shape come the knockout rounds, and maybe less exhausted, which tends to become his default in summer tournaments, often brilliant but worn out.
Chile are defending champs of the Copa América, of course, and it will be interesting to see if they are really gunning to repeat or if they're going to treat it like a regular tournament. My money is on the latter, but they're still one of the better teams in this tournament, and if they play well, they have every chance of winning the whole thing again. But first, Argentina.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!