Uruguay hunt 11th Copa America crown

By Donald Oliver June 04, 2019

Barcelona striker Luis Suarez hopes to lead a balance Uruguay to yet another COPA America title.

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  • I do not know anything - James still in dark over Real Madrid future I do not know anything - James still in dark over Real Madrid future

    James Rodriguez remains in the dark about his Real Madrid future amid links with an array of European clubs.

    The 27-year-old spent the past two seasons on loan with Bayern Munich but has informed the Bundesliga champions he is not interested in a permanent transfer.

    James, who is on Copa America duty with Colombia, has now been tipped to find a new club ahead of the 2019-2020 campaign.

    Juventus and Napoli are rumoured to be in the running to sign him, while Premier League duo Liverpool and Manchester United have also been linked, but the playmaker is unsure where he will end up.

    "I really don't know anything yet," James told Marca following Colombia's 2-0 win over Argentina on Saturday.

    James played the full 90 minutes of Colombia's Group B opener in Salvador and set up Roger Martinez's strike, which Duvan Zapata added to late on.

    But the former Monaco ace has warned his team-mates not to get carried away in their pursuit of a first Copa America triumph since 2001.

    "We played well," he said. "We were very solid. It was a very physical game and it's a good day for all Colombians. When we're united it's much easier for everyone.

    "We have to be calm and cautious. There's a lot of football left and we have to be careful in our next games. We can't go into a state of euphoria."

  • Japan v Chile: Two-time reigning champions begin title defence Japan v Chile: Two-time reigning champions begin title defence

    Chile start their bid for a third successive Copa America title in Sao Paulo on Monday, as they go up against Japan in their Group C opener.

    La Roja defeated Argentina on penalties in both the 2015 and 2016 finals, though much has changed since then. Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi departed after the team's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, with Reinaldo Rueda appointed as his replacement.

    The Colombian has won just five of his 13 games since taking charge in January 2018, though he has a squad containing a plethora of famous faces for the tournament in Brazil.

    Arturo Vidal is one of the senior players included and the Barcelona midfielder believes Chile can come good at just the right time to defend their crown, which would see them join Argentina as the only nations to win three in a row.

    "This squad should be feared, from the beginning to the final," Vidal told the media. "We hope it's going to be something amazing, but we're going to take it game by game.

    "Everything is starting from new; a new process, new players, new coaches. It took us many days to talk about and clear up things."

    Japan, meanwhile, are guests of CONMEBOL for a second time, having previously played at the 1999 tournament in Paraguay.

    Coach Hajime Moriyasu has an impressive record at the helm, winning 12 of his 16 games, but will have to try to qualify for the knockout stages with a young squad that was picked with the 2020 Olympic Games in mind.

    Teenager Takefusa Kubo, who completed a move to Real Madrid on Friday, is one to look out for, while goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and captain Shinji Okazaki provide some much-needed experience.

    "I'm really looking forward to playing in the Copa America, it's one of the highest-level tournaments in the world," Moriyasu told reporters.

    "How can we show our strength and which way we play, that's what we want to find out in this tournament."

     

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Japan – Shinji Okazaki 

    The forward was a hero in Leicester City's famous Premier League title triumph in 2015-16, so can he help his country spring a huge surprise in Brazil? Japan will lean heavily on their skipper to lead from the front.

    Chile – Arturo Vidal

    Chile have yet to hit top gear under Rueda, who will hope Vidal can drive the team forward from midfield. The 32-year-old is one of six players in the squad who has reached a century of international caps.

     

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - Japan and Chile have met twice previously, both friendlies played in Tokyo - a 0-0 draw in 2008 followed by a 4-0 win for Japan in 2009. Chile have lost only one of their seven meetings with Asian teams on neutral soil (W4 D2).
    - Japan have won only one of their 13 competitive games against South American countries (D4 L8), the solitary success coming against Colombia at the 2018 World Cup (2-1). 
    - Eduardo Vargas is the joint-top scorer for Chile in Copa America tournaments, alongside Enrique Hormazabal (10 goals).
    - This will be Rueda's third Copa America tournament. He reached the semi-finals in 2004 with Colombia (W3 D1 L2) and was eliminated from the group stage in 2011 with Ecuador (D1 L2).
    - Chile's last two Copa America tournaments have been under different bosses (Jorge Sampaoli in 2015 and Juan Antonio Pizzi in 2016).

  • Scaloni criticises pitch after Argentina defeat Scaloni criticises pitch after Argentina defeat

    Lionel Scaloni criticised the state of the pitch in Salvador after Argentina's 2-0 loss to Colombia in their Copa America opener.

    Roger Martinez's stunner and a late Duvan Zapata goal saw Colombia to victory in the Group B clash at Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova on Saturday.

    However, head coach Scaloni was unhappy with the pitch on which his side slumped to a disappointing defeat.

    "I think it was a shame the condition of the pitch, considering this is just the first game here," he told a news conference.

    "I don't want to know how this pitch would be after two or three games. This could've been a lot better for a first game, for these kinds of players.

    "I think it is a shame."

    Argentina struggled to create chances against Colombia, losing their Copa opener for the first time since 1979.

    Scaloni, whose team take on Paraguay in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday, was upbeat about Argentina's second-half display.

    "I think they [Colombia] are a good team. They are really focused on what matters," he said.

    "The most important thing is I think we faced them well, they were better at some times, some times we were better.

    "But those are just cycles within the game and we need to adapt to them. We were good, even with that goal from them on the counter-attack, especially in the second half."

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