After an embarrassing exit from the 2015 Copa America quarterfinals, Brazil now has a chance to right the ship just a year later.
Dunga’s side lost on penalties to Paraguay after winning their group, but can now avenge that unexpected early loss with another opportunity to top their group. That being said, though, Ecuador’s young talent and the grit that saw Peru take third place in last year’s Copa could keep Brazil from glory.
Ecuador boasts talented options at each outfield position, with names fans will recognize from around the globe. Enner Valencia, Jefferson Montero and others hail from the English Premier League, Walter Ayovi and Michael Arroyo come from big Liga MX campaigns, and Carlos Gruezo represents MLS in this squad.
While Peruvian players do not hold the same name recognition, there is no denying the play that resulted in a third place finish in the 2015 Copa America. That shock performance got them much farther than either Brazil or Ecuador in that tournament. It would truly be a shock, though, if 119-ranked Haiti managed to put up a fight in this group.
Here’s a closer look at Group B:
COPA AMERICA GROUP B
HAITI vs. PERU — 7:30 p.m.
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
BRAZIL vs. ECUADOR — 10 p.m.
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
BRAZIL vs. HAITI — 7:30 p.m.
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
ECUADOR vs. PERU — 10 p.m.
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
ECUADOR vs. HAITI — 6:30 p.m.
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
BRAZIL vs. PERU — 8:30 p.m.
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Marquinhos, Philippe Coutinho, Willian, Gabriel
TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Undoubtedly one of the most successful sides in the tournament’s history, Brazil has won the third-most Copa America titles with eight. The team won back-to-back editions in 2004 and 2007, but haven’t made a final since. After last year’s failure, the country will certainly be looking for a deep run from Dunga’s team.
OUTLOOK: Anything other than an appearance in the final will be seen as a failure to Brazil after their recent struggles. The young, talented roster will give several starlets the chance to prove themselves to Dunga as he phases out the older names (or as they participate in the Olympics). Marquinhos and Lucas Moura from Paris Saint-Germain will have a chance to make an impact, alongside some of the EPL’s most notable this season in Willian and Philippe Coutinho. An experienced backline boasting Dani Alves, Filipe Luis and Miranda must keep their group opponents at bay if they’re looking to stifle the attacking talents of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Enner Valencia, Jefferson Montero, Felipe Caicedo, Walter Ayovi
TOURNAMENT HISTORY: While Ecuador has been involved in more than 30 Copa America tournaments, the team has only made it out of the group stage twice in the last 13 editions. The squad certainly has the talent to advance this time around, but could also fall flat after only managing one win in last year’s Copa.
OUTLOOK: The team may not have performed at a high level in last year’s Copa, but they should enter this tournament with a chip on their shoulder. Ultimately, it was a loss to Bolivia that kept Ecuador out of the 2015 Copa America knockout stages, and there is no excuse for a similar fate this year. The international experience of outside back Walter Ayovi coupled with the attacking talents of Jefferson Montero and Enner Valencia could lead to the team’s most successful tournament in a long time.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Mechack Jerome, James Marcelin, Wilde-Donald Guerrier, Pascal Millien
TOURNAMENT HISTORY: This summer marks the first time that Haiti has been invited to a Copa America, but the Haitians will need to put up a fight if they are to have any chance of getting out of the group.
OUTLOOK: With three talented rosters with a glutton of experience surrounding them, Haiti has absolutely no pressure to perform in this tournament. We’ve seen the side excel in that role before, though, as they made it into the knockout stage of last year’s Gold Cup. If nothing else, this tournament will serve as an important experience for the squad as they look to progress even farther and become a stalwart in CONCACAF.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Paolo Guerrero, Yoshimar Yotun, Christian Cueva, Pedro Gallese
TOURNAMENT HISTORY: The Peruvian national team has taken part in over 30 Copa America’s to date, winning the tournament twice in the mid-1900s. Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero has twice been a top scorer in the tournament, both in 2011 and 2015. A third place finish in last year’s tournament announced the team’s arrival as a competitor in the modern era.
OUTLOOK: Peru may have flown under the radar at least year’s Copa, but it wouldn’t be wise for Group B opponents to underestimate the side heading into this tournament. Paolo Guerrero’s recent successes at past Copas can only lead to optimistic thinking for Peruvian fans. Coach Ricardo Gareca’s team is more than the sum of its parts and has over-performed as of late, both components that could see the team advance to yet another knockout round in the place of a more highly rated nation.
What do you expect to happen in Group B? Will Peru challenge for second place? Do you see Brazil living up to expectations?
Share your thoughts below.