5 Players to Watch at the Copa America Outside of the Norm

Brazil Copa America

Nicolás González

With two goals in his first three competitive matches for the senior side, tricky forward, Nicolás González, is one of a number of Argentinian attackers looking to shine at the Copa America this summer.

A regular for Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, the 23-year-old netted his first goal for Argentina in their recent World Cup qualifying victory over Paraguay, before going on to double his tally days later against Peru.

Capable of playing as a winger or an out and out striker, González has tormented defences during his three-year spell in Germany and has attracted the interest of various big names around Europe. He’s part of an Albiceleste side placed at 9/4 to win this year’s Copa America.

Luis Muriel

Luis Muriel isn’t a name synonymous with Colombian strikers, as the 30-year old has spent much of his international career in the shadow of compatriot, Radamel Falcao. Yet, heading into Copa America 2021, Muriel has established himself as the main man for Los Cafeteros.

After joining Atalanta from Sevilla in 2019, Muriel has netted 46 times during his two seasons in Serie A and has played a key part of Gian Piero Gasperini’s men rise up the division. Such form has earned the ex-Udinese striker an extended run in the Colombia side, featuring in the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Copa America.

Beaten on penalties in both of those tournaments, firstly by England in 2018 and then by Chile a year later, Muriel will be hoping for better luck when his Colombia side travel to Brazil this summer.

Guillermo Maripán

Winners in two of the last three Copa Americas, the curtain may be dropping on Chile’s golden generation, yet the plucky South American nation keep producing crops of talented players.

Part of the Monaco side that qualified for next season’s Champions League, Guillermo Maripán has shone under the management of Niko Kovač. A domineering defender with a strong sense of danger, the 27-year-old made his Chile debut in 2017 and has since established himself within the national setup.

Chile will have to negotiate a difficult group containing Argentina and Uruguay, but could be potential dark horses for the tournament and are priced at 12/1 to make it three Copa Americas from four.

Josef Martínez

Two seasons ago there were few more exciting prospects in Major League Soccer than Venezuela international, Josef Martínez. Yet, after suffering an ACL injury in Atlanta United’s season opener, the then 26-year-old was ruled out for the entire season.

With the ability to score all types of goals, Martínez’s at-the-time record 28 goal season helped Atlanta to their first and only MLS Cup final victory in 2018.

Now 28-years-old and back up to full fitness, the dominative striker is crucial to any hopes Venezuela may hold this summer. Only minnows Bolivia sit below La Vinotinto in the odds for favourites, yet with four teams from five making it out of the group stage, a shock progression for Martinez and Venezuela may be on the horizon.

Gabriel Barbosa

Brazil enters what is now a home tournament as firm favourites and on the lookout for back-to-back Copa America titles, with Flamengo striker, Gabriel Barbosa amongst those likely to feature heavily for the Seleção.

Having followed the path of many a South American star before him and moved to Europe at an early age, Barbosa struggled to make an impact during his four-year stint with Inter Milan.

Returning to his native Brazil as damaged goods, the 24-year-old has restored his reputation with Flamengo, scoring over 60 times for the club.

Barbosa is probably best remembered for his brace in the 2019 Copa Libertadores final and the talented forward will be hoping to add to his trophy cabinet with victory on home soil this summer and Brazil are 6/5 to lift their 10th Copa America in the Maracanã on July 10.

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