Argentina still favorite to win Copa

July, 15, 2011

The first round of the knockout stages of Copa America 2011 kicks off Saturday with the quarterfinals. After the group stage, ESPN's Soccer Power Index gives host Argentina, the favorite entering the tournament, the best chance (44.6 percent) of winning the final on home soil. Two-time defending champion Brazil has the second-best chance of claiming the title (24.1 percent), as the Samba Boys look for a Copa America three-peat. Let's take a look at what the quarterfinal matchups have in store.

• By winning their respective groups, Colombia and Chile have put themselves in good position to move on to the semifinals and be the main challengers to Argentina and Brazil. Colombia was the only team to not give up a goal in group play and Chile emerged as the best team from what SPI predicted would be the most wide-open group of the first round.

• Fielding a "new generation" of players led by striker Radamel Falcao, Colombia seems well prepared for its quarterfinal match with Peru, the worst remaining team according to SPI. However, despite being given a 67.7 percent chance of winning, this is the closest match of the quarterfinals according to SPI, with only a 35.4 percent differential between these two teams' chances of advancing to the semis.

• Saturday's second game may be the best match-up of the Quarterfinals as Argentina and Uruguay, which are tied for the most Copa America titles with 14 each, take to the pitch in Santa Fe. Despite struggling in their first two matches, Lionel Messi and the Argentines are still the favorites to win the tournament with a home field advantage that plays a major role their 73.6 percent chance of advancing to the semifinals. If this game were on neutral ground it would be a toss-up as Uruguay has many of the same stars, such as Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, who helped La Celeste reach the semifinals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup last summer.

• Although Brazil - the highest-ranked team in CONMEBOL - has the second-best chance of winning the tournament, it is only the third most likely to reach the semifinals due to its difficult quarterfinal matchup with Paraguay. Brazil, which has won four of the last five Copa America titles, will face a defensive-minded Paraguayan squad which has the second-best defensive rating in the world according to SPI (Spain is first), but only the 59th best offense. Paraguay is the only quarterfinalist that has yet to win a game.

• Chile has put itself in good position by winning group C and avoiding Argentina in the quarterfinals. SPI gives Alexis Sanchez and the Chileans the best chance to reach the semifinals (77.3 percent) as they play the second worst team remaining in the tournament (according to SPI) in Venezuela. Venezuela has only three wins in 52 matches at the Copa America and has been outscored 159 to 37 in its history at the tournament.



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