Copa America Preview: Brazil favourites to win on home soil

Quamrul Hassan | Update:

Jesus has scored five goals in the four games Brazil played this year. AFPOne year after a disastrous World Cup, archrivals Argentina and Brazil, both boasting a big number of crazy fans in Bangladesh, look for silverware as the Copa America 2019 kicks off on Friday. 

The absence of star striker Neymar certainly took some gloss off the tournament, but in Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus they have players who can rise to the occasion.
Argentina captain Lionel Messi, who will lead a team that have endured heartbreaks in four of the last five Copa finals, will look to break the jinx.
Before the stars take to the pitch, let us do what we must do - predicting the outcome of the tournament.
Champions: Brazil
Messi is yet to win a major final with the national side. AFPOn pen and paper, the hosts have the best team. It is true that all the South American teams are capable of causing an upset, but on home soil that looks very very unlikely. The last time they hosted a major tournament was the 2014 World Cup, which featured one of their history's worst nightmares. The tournament favourites were humiliated in Belo Horizonte as Germany hit seven past the Selecao, but this time Brazil will be determined to avoid any mishap.
If Brazil finish the group stage as the champions, which they are almost certain to do, and win their quarterfinal game, which is also a no-brainer, they will return to Belo Horizonte to play the semifinal. Needless to say how resolute they will be to win that game.
And who can beat them in a final at the legendary Estádio do Maracanã?
Runners-up: Argentina
Losing finals has become a habit for the La Albiceleste. Two Copa America final losses (both to Brazil, in 2005 and 2007) was followed by the defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup title-decider. And then two tiebreaker heartbreaks, both coming against Chile, in 2015 and 2016.
Argentina fans, and many of the neutrals, would love to see Messi win something with the national team, but they are very unlikely to cause an upset and pip the hosts to the title.
Brazil will miss the services of star forward Neymar. AFPParaguay and Colombia will pose great challenges in the group stages, but Messi will have the likes of Angel De Maria and Sergio Aguero to trump them.
Their probable semifinal opponents are Uruguay and Chile, both capable of giving Messi and boys a run for their money, but Argentina should still be able to seal their place in the final.
Golden Boot: Gabriel Jesus
The Manchester City forward has scored five times in the four games Brazil played this year. In the absence of Neymar, he will be leading the attack, and with the services of Philippe Coutinho, Casemiro, Willian or Firmino at his disposal, he is certain to fire in the goals.

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