While Group A, featuring the United States and Colombia, draws most of the headlines leading up to Friday’s start of the Copa America Centenario, Mexico and Uruguay are the teams to watch in Group C.
El Tri, which figures to have a sizable home crowd advantage in every match its plays in this tournament, will be looking to win its first Copa America crown while Uruguay will be hoping to add another South American title to its already bursting trophy cabinet.
The Teams (odds according to bwin.com)
Mexico — 16th in FIFA Rankings – Best finish in Copa America: Runners-up (1993 and 2001) – 11/1 odds to win
Uruguay — 9th in FIFA Rankings — Best finish in Copa America: Winner (15 combined South American and Copa America championships) – 11/1 odds to win
Venezuela — 74th in FIFA Rankings — Best finish in Copa America: Fourth place (2012) – 101/1 odds to win
Jamaica — 55th in FIFA Rankings — Best finish in Copa America: Group stage (2015) – 201/1 odds to win
Best goalkeeper — Fernando Muslera, Uruguay
Muslera has 79 caps for Uruguay and has played in two World Cups. He’s an experienced keeper at the international level and, at only 29, still very much in his prime.
He also played in 48 matches in all competitions for Turkish champions Galatasaray this season. He’s a steady keeper who always keeps his team in a match.
Best outfield player — Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Mexico
Luis Suarez’s injured hamstring prevents us from placing the mercurial Barcelona striker in this spot. Hernandez jump started his club career this season with a move to Bayer Leverkusen, where he scored 26 goals in 40 appearances for the German club.
He made a splash in the Champions League as well, scoring five goals in six matches.
He missed last year’s Gold Cup triumph with an injured collarbone, so he’ll be looking to carry his strong club form over to this tournament for the Mexican side.
Player to watch — Edinson Cavanni, Uruguay
He was going to be a key part of Uruguay’s title hopes anyway, but Suarez’s injury pushes the Paris Saint-German player to the forefront.
He scored 25 goals in 52 appearances for PSG, which is no mean feat when sharing a front line with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He also owns 32 goals in 81 career caps for La Celeste, which means that — Suarez or no Suarez — he knows how to find the back of the net.
Most important game — Mexico vs. Uruguay
Group C opens with a bang as the prohibitive favorites square off in the opening match (Sunday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1).
It’s an important match for obvious reasons, but because it’s the opener, it may not be an exciting one. Neither team will want to lose, so defense may be the order of the day at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Biggest story line — Who starts in goal for Mexico?
Mexican manager Juan Carlos Osorio doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to decide on a starting keeper. Guillermo Ochoa started the 1-0 over Paraguay last weekend, but it was Alfredo Talavera between the sticks in Wednesday’s tune up match against Chile. Jesus Corona is waiting in the wings as well.
Each is a capable keeper, but should his eventual choice falter, the Mexican press and fans will be pointing fingers at the manager.
Teams to move on — Mexico and Uruguay
Sunday, June 5
Jamaica vs. Venezuela, Chicago, 5 p.m. ET, FOX
Mexico vs. Uruguay, Glendale, AZ, 8 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
Thursday, June 9
Uruguay vs. Venezuela, Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
Mexico vs. Jamaica, Pasadena, Calif., 10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
Monday, June 13
Mexico vs. Venezuela, Houston, 8 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
Uruguay vs. Jamaica, Santa Clara, Calif., 10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1