Copa America : Notes – Crystal Ball edition

If your head has stopped hurting from yesterday’s explainer, let’s have some fun. Today we focus on final team power ratings taking in to account injuries, and running predictions based on those final ratings and other factors.

1.      The future ain’t what it used to be:  We looked at key player injuries and absences from the tournament. Taking those in to account, we have our final pre-tournament Sportify power ratings:

Copa America Power Rankings 2016
Data provided by Opta

a.      Brazil have a slew of injuries coupled with Neymar deciding he will only play in the Olympics – not Copa. With Douglas Costa, Luiz Gustavo, Rafinha and Ederson having dropped out of the squad, not having Thiago Silva, Marcelo and David Luiz in addition to Neymar will make the Selecao a much reduced threat – they fell 65 points in the final ratings

b.     Argentina – Our best guess is that Messi plays, but Argentina will still miss standout right back Pablo Zabaleta, though Facundo Roncaglia or Gabriel Mercado can deputize – this could play a factor in tight games

c.      Uruguay – it looks like Luis Suarez is out for at least the group stage. We’ve assumed as much, but if Uruguay manage to advance without him, they will be a much improved squad than the rankings above indicate. We will keep a close eye on this

d.     USA – Sacha Kjlestan and Jozy Altidore will miss CAC but neither is quite a world class player on par with Neymar, Suarez or Zabaleta. These changes likely mean more playing time for Bobby Wood and Darlington Nagbe – look for the 20-somethings to push the envelope for the US attack

e.      Costa Rica – He may not have made any saves in the shootout, but Keylor Navas is fresh off of winning a UEFA Champions League; missing that type of player between the sticks and in the locker room cannot be overstated

f.       Colombia will be without a handful of potent attacking options – Jackson Martinez, Juan Quintero and Adrian Ramos. Fortunately for the Colombians they still have James Rodriguez pushing the attack forward and Carlos Bacca ahead of him

2.      I think we agree, the past is over:

a.      Osorio might not be as GIF worthy<> as his predecessor, but he doesn’t punch journalists, and more importantly El Tri have been playing lights out recently and haven’t conceded a goal in the last 8 games. Also remember, this is as good as a home tournament for Mexico – outside of when they play the US (unlikely in CAC), the stadium will be full of El Tri fans.

b.     Group outcomes:

i.     Group A – Colombia should win out with US second. Costa Rica would have been a bigger hurdle with Navas at GK

ii.     Group B – In spite of a weakened side, Brazil should win out with Ecuador finishing second

iii.     Group C – Red hot Mexico and Uruguay without Suarez means El Tri should top the table with 9 points, followed by Uruguay with 6. Keep an eye on Mexico vs. Uruguay to judge the relative strengths of each team

iv.     Groud D – Argentina and Chile should take care of business here as long as they take Panama seriously

c.      Playoffs:

i.      The quarters are where the chances of upsets go up – can the US push through? Will Suarez be back to give Uruguay a boost? Can Colombia hold their current form against Ecuador? Will Mexico slip up against Chile?

ii.     The semis are going to be the best games of the tournament – current paths indicate Brazil v. Colombia on one side and Mexico v. Argentina on the other. Both will be “upsets” in that Brazil and Argentina are going to fall according our prediction simulations. These games could be the start of a new era …

iii.     A Mexico Colombia final at MetLife stadium will be a spectacular game, and a testament to the depth in this tournament. Our models say Mexico will ride their home field advantage and current form to take it all!

Copa America Centenario Game Predictions
Data provided by Opta

3.      Death and taxes: Nothing is certain in soccer, so while it’s fun to look at a whole tournament prediction, we will be publishing more detailed individual game predictions for each game.

a.      Your teaser for the evening – we have Colombia at 42% for the win, or a line of +140. Email us if you want to chat more

b.     Our models understand win/loss, injuries, player ratings, home vs. away, strength of schedule and a bunch of other factors. What they don’t understand is heart passion. Our soccer experts think USA v. Colombia is going to be closer than the odds suggest. Game on