2024 Copa America Preview | Futures Picks, Predictions & More

2024 Copa America Preview | Futures Picks, Predictions & More article feature image

Sebastian Frej/Getty. Pictured: Luis Diaz.

Copa America is finally here and over the next month it will be wall-to-wall football to decide who is the best team in North & South America. In this article I lay out all of my favorite futures for the tournament from outrights to Golden Boot to stage of elimination and so much more, including some tasty plays on Uruguay and Luis Diaz.

If you'd like to follow me throughout the tournament and see all of my picks, follow me in the Action Network App.

If you'd like to see individual match projections you can find them here.

Here is my Copa America 2024 preview. For even more soccer betting, check out Euro 2024 Picks | Best Bets for Soccer Games Today.

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Uruguay to Win Copa America (+500 via bet365)

Marcelo Bielsa is at the helm and he has turned Uruguay into an incredibly dangerous team to the two favorites in this tournament. During World Cup Qualifying, Uruguay beat both Brazil and Argentina and averaged close to two expected goals per 90 minutes.

Bielsa is somewhat of an innovator in the game of football with his idealisms of high pressing, vertical attacking football. He has his side playing out of a 4-4-2, which becomes a 4-2-2-2 in possession, always looking to play a long ball or through ball to Darwin Nunez, which worked incredibly well during qualifying. When they build out of the back, they are always looking to overload the first line of pressure and then looking for outlet balls to all of their attackers. They averaged the second most counterattacking shots per 90 minutes during qualifying, so they do not need to have a high amount of possession to be successful.

What has been impressive with Bielsa has been Uruguay’s out of possession approach. He’s always favored a high pressing style, but when they played against Brazil and Argentina, he opted for more of a mid block and made it incredibly difficult for them to play through. Uruguay were fifth in PPDA during World Cup qualifying, but they were second in duel win rate.

They have an incredible pair of ball stopping midfielders in Federico Valverde and Manuel Ugarte (led Europe’s top five league with 4.11 tackles per 90 minutes for PSG), so it’s really difficult for teams to play through them. In fact, they allowed the fewest counterattacking shots per 90 minutes, so even if the match becomes very back and forth, they are well suited to play in that type of environment.

Not only do Uruguay have outstanding ball stopping midfielders, but they also have a great center back pairing in Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo and Atletico Madrid’s José María Giménez.

Bielsa's style of play over the course of an entire season at the club level tends to burn players out, but in a national team setting and a tournament like this, it works perfectly with only playing a maximum of six matches.

They are in the bottom half of the bracket with Colombia, Brazil and the United States, but they are well capable of beating all three of their teams. So, at +500, I really like Uruguay to win Copa America.

Peru to Finish Bottom of Group A (+150 via DraftKings)

There are a lot of concerns with Peru coming into Copa America and it mainly has to with their offense. Over their six World Cup Qualifying matches in late 2023, they created a total of 2.5 expected goals and their final match against Venezuela was the only one they created over one expected goal. It was so bad that they had to fire their manager Juan Reynoso and bring in Jorge Fossati.

The three friendlies under Fossati have been better scoring two goals against Nicaragua and four against the Dominican Republic, but they put in a dreadful offensive performance against Paraguay, creating just 0.3 xG on five shots. The problem with Peru at its core is they are a 3-5-2 transition based team, but they have little to no attacking talent and rely on a few transition attacks a match, which is not sustainable. Most importantly, when they do get their chances they are of incredibly low quality.

During qualifying, Peru had an average shot distance of 24.75 meters and only averaged 6.2 shots per 90 minutes, per WyScout.

Out of possession they play a very compact 5-3-2 mid block, but were the worst team during qualifying in duel win rate, aerial dual win rate and most importantly allowed 1.43 xG per 90 minutes, which was second-worst to Bolivia. They are okay when they are sitting in their defensive block, but the second the match becomes transitional they are in trouble because they have no ball winning in the middle and their fullbacks are terrible defending out wide.

They were beaten by Chile 2-0 and created a whopping 0.13 xG on four shots in World Cup Qualifying in October and are a significantly less talented team than Canada, so there is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t be the favorite to finish at the bottom of this group, so I like the price at +150.

USA Stage of Elimination: Quarterfinals (-110 via DraftKings)

The United States of America come into this tournament in okay form. They scheduled Colombia and Brazil, who they are most likely going to meet in the quarterfinals, and while the match against Colombia was a disaster, they played much better against Brazil.

In possession, the US have played a lot of teams that will sit deep and play a low defensive block against them, which is where they have kind of struggled.  Where the United States have their most success is getting the ball to the left side of the pitch and having Pulisic, Reyna and Robinson form a passing triangle to create chances from out wide. When they are not pressed, the United States actually are pretty good at building out of the back and successfully creating chances in the final third. Since September of 2021, the United States are averaging 2.15 xG per 90 minutes, which is pretty impressive.

The problems that exist for the Americans are when they face good pressing teams. The collection of players across their backline are not well suited to play a build out of back style when they are pressed effectively, which was the core problem when they faced Colombia.

While the United States are actually set up pretty well at this tournament by virtue of having home field advantage, their path is terrible. Even if they win their group over Uruguay, they are likely going to have to face Colombia in the quarterfinals or if they finish second they are facing Brazil, who will play with a lot more intensity than the friendly this past Wednesday.

They closed a pick’em against Colombia in that 5-1 defeat, so I have a feeling they will be an underdog against them if they meet in the quarterfinals and also will be a significant underdog to Brazil, so I like the value on USA's stage of elimination to be in the quarterfinals at -110.

Bolivia to Finish Bottom of Group C (-120 via DraftKings)

Outside of maybe Costa Rica, Bolivia are the least talented team in this entire field. Since September of 2021 in World Cup Qualifying matches, they have a -1.09 xGD per 90 minutes, which is by far the worst mark in South America. All but three players on their roster play domestically in Bolivia and per transfermarkt.com, they don’t have a single player with a transfer value above $1 million.

They are a very direct team, constantly trying to send long balls up the pitch to win second balls and hopefully create chances via crosses. During this last round of World Cup Qualifying matches, Bolivia averaged 0.43 xG and 7.1 shots per 90 minutes.

The one thing about Bolivia is despite their lack of talent, they have a distinct home field advantage. They play at an altitude of 5,100 meters above sea level, which makes it very difficult for opponents to play against them when they are used to it. They have pulled off upsets over the past three years in World Cup Qualifying over Peru, Paraguay and even Uruguay. The problem is, they have lost every single qualifying match outside of Bolivia since September of 2021.

The market is pricing them pretty closely with Panama to finish at the bottom of this group, which I do not agree with. I have Panama projected as a -150 favorite in the final match of the group stage, so I love the value on Bolivia to finish bottom of this group at -120.

Paraguay Lowest Scoring Team (+1000 via DraftKings)

Paraguay come into this tournament having scored one goal in World Cup Qualifying and playing the lowest-event type of matches of anyone in South America. They did underperform and average 0.91 xG per 90 minutes, but there is an existential problem with their offense, which comes down to them settling for low quality chances.

They averaged 11.5 shots per 90 minutes in qualifying, which was more than Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. But, their average shot distance was 20.8 yards and their xG per shot was 0.08, which is incredibly low.

They are primarily a transition-based team as well with some pretty good talent compared to other teams with Brighton’s Julio Encisco and Newcastle’s Miguel Almerion, but they still have struggled to create high quality chances. In addition to that, they are a pretty bad set piece team too, ranking eighth during qualifying in shots per set piece.

This isn’t a recent problem for Paraguay either. Since September of 2021, they have created 12.9 expected goals in 18 matches, which is by far the lowest in South America during that time frame.

Then you look at the two big heavy hitters they are going to face in their group in Colombia and Brazil. Their last competitive match was against Colombia where they created 0.7 xG on 11 shots and in their most recent match against Brazil they got waxed 4-0 and only managed to create 0.38 xG. They may very well have a good chance of scoring against Colombia, but they settle far too often for shots from outside the box, so even Costa Rica’s low block could keep them out.

At 10/1 for a team that has scored one goal in 2023 and really struggle to create high quality chances, there is definitely value on them to be the lowest scoring team.

Canada Stage of Elimination: Semifinals (+1100 via FanDuel)

Compared to the teams in their group like Peru and Chile, Canada have way more talent. For example, per transfermarket.com, Peru’s total squad value is $34 million and Chile’s is $84 million, while Canada are at $185 million. So, there really isn’t a reason that they should be priced to finish at the bottom of this group if we were going on pure talent alone.

There have been some tactical problems under previous managers for Canada. They’ve been way too open defending in transition and they’ve struggled to defend set pieces, which is something new manager Jesse Marsch is going to have to sort out. They have only played two friendlies since Marsch was hired, losing the first 4-0 to the Netherlands, but they did draw France 0-0 and held them to only 1.25 xG.

Canada are most likely going to set up in a 4-4-2, which fits the personnel they have really well. They are really good at attacking opponents in wide areas with the likes of Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Inter Tajon Buchannon being able to progress the ball up the pitch and also beat defenders in 1 v 1 situations. They have a great midfield pairing of Watford’s Ismaël Koné and Porto’s Stephen Eustáquio, who are also solid ball winners to make it difficult for opponents to play through the middle of the pitch.

The two teams that Canada are going to face after Argentina in Chile and Peru are the two worst transition defenses in South America, so they will have ample opportunities and space to hit them in counter attacking moments.

Then if they get out of the group, they get the first place team in Group B, which is the weakest group in this tournament, setting them up with a potential rematch with Argentina, who they are likely going to lose to. So, I love the price on Canada to be eliminated in the semifinals at 11/1.

Luis Diaz Top Goalscorer (+4000 via bet365) 

Even though he plays out wide, Luis Diaz is the main goalscoring threat for Colombia. During World Cup Qualifiers, he averaged 4.4 shots per 90 minutes, which was the most of anybody. He posted even more than the likes of Messi, Vinicius Jr and Darwin Nunez. He did only score twice, but that level of shot production will always give you a chance to be the top goal scorers. He's someone that is so good at cutting inside to create his own shot, is a big threat in transition and will be one of the penalty takers.

The other great aspect of Diaz is the environment he plays in with Colombia. They are the most aggressive out of possession team in South America, as they are always looking to get into an up and down type of match. When they lose the ball in the opponent's final third they are always looking to counter-press to try and win the ball back quickly.

They were really good offensively during World Cup Qualifying, averaging the most shots, creating the second-most expected goals, and posting the best long ball completion rate, which is a really encouraging sign for a team that is primarily transition based.

He will get a match versus the worst defensive team in this tournament in Costa Rica and could potentially play five matches if Colombia make it to the semifinals, which they are capable of doing. So, with the amount of shot production Diaz gets playing for the highest event team in this tournament, there is a ton of value on him at 40/1.

Lionel Messi Argentina Top Goalscorer (-125 via bet365) 

Even though he is aging and playing in MLS now, Messi is still the main man for Argentina. During World Cup Qualifying he averaged 3.99 shots per 90 minutes, which was 1.7 shots more than the next-closest guy on Argentina. Obviously, this tournament is set up perfectly for Argentina to get to the final because they put four of the five best teams on the bottom half of the bracket. Argentina are going to play a lot of sub-par defensive teams, which removes a lot of variance with Messi getting a higher shot volume for more matches.

In addition to that, Messi is the one taking free kicks (almost always goes for goal) and is the one taking penalties. So, he probably should be priced closer to -150 given how much larger his share of the shots is compared to everyone else on the team.

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