Time for Copa América 2024

In the shadow of the European Championship, at least from a European perspective, it is time for the forty-eighth edition of Copa América, which this time will be played in the United States. Originally, this was a strictly South American tournament, but starting in 1993, teams from North and Central America were invited to participate, and even Qatar and Japan have previously been invited to take part.

Copa América 2024
The tournament starts on Thursday, June 20, at 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (US East Coast time, which is 2:00 AM on Friday, June 21, Central European Time) with a match between Argentina and Canada, and the final will be played on July 14. New for this edition is that the number of participating teams has been increased to 16, having varied between four and twelve teams before. This time, only teams from the American continent are participating, and the groups look like this:

Group A
  • Argentina
  • Peru
  • Chile
  • Canada

Group B
  • Mexico
  • Ecuador
  • Venezuela
  • Jamaica

Group C
  • USA
  • Uruguay
  • Panama
  • Bolivia

Group D
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Paraguay
  • Costa Rica

Reigning champions - Argentina

In the last Copa América held in 2021 in Brazil, we witnessed a dream final between Argentina and Brazil. Argentina made it to the final by defeating Colombia on penalties in the semi-final, while Brazil won their semi-final against Peru with 1-0.

The final was won by Argentina after Ángel Di Maria scored the only goal of the match in the 22nd minute, assisted by Rodrigo De Paul, making Argentina the reigning champions going into this tournament. Their victory was particularly notable as it was Lionel Messi's first title with Argentina, and as everyone knows, he later also secured his second title when Argentina won the World Cup in Qatar 2022.

Historical Statistics in the tournament

Argentina's title in 2021 was their fifteenth, tying them with Uruguay in the all-time standings, but Argentina has more finals (14 final losses) compared to Uruguay (6 final losses). Whether one sees Argentina as the actual leaders in the all-time standings because of their bigger number of finals is up to individual interpretation, but in terms of titles, both countries have the same number.

Brazil is third in the standings with 9 titles (12 final losses), with their last win in 2019 after defeating Peru 3-1 in the final. Other countries with titles include Paraguay, Chile, and Peru with two each, and Bolivia and Colombia with one each. This means there are no winners outside South America, which is not surprising given that non-South American teams have only been allowed to participate since 1993, though Mexico has come close with two final losses (1993 and 2001).

Favourites in Copa América 2024

So, who are the favourites this time? As usual ahead of a Copa América, there are now two teams that act as the big favourites, and we are of course talking about Argentina and Brazil. Looking at the betting odds, Argentina is a slight favourite with winning odds between 2.75 and 3, and Brazil is between 3 and 3.25.

A major reason Argentina is ranked slightly higher than Brazil is, of course, because they have Lionel Messi, but also because Brazil is missing their biggest star Neymar, who has been out with a knee injury since October.

Among the teams expected to challenge these two powerhouses, it is primarily Uruguay that is expected to do so, but Colombia, Mexico, USA, and Ecuador are also seen as teams that could surprise, or at least go far in the tournament. The teams that are expected to have no chance of winning are primarily Panama, Costa Rica, and Bolivia.

Lautaro Martinez, Argentina
Could Lautaro Martinez be the top scorer in Copa América 2024

Potential top scorers in the tournament

In 2021, the top scorer title was shared between Lionel Messi and Colombia's (and Liverpool's) Luis Díaz, both with four goals each. Argentina's Lautaro Martínez and Peru's Italian Gianluca Lapadula followed with three goals each.

Who will win the top scorer title this time? Here are our tips and ranking of the players who have the best chance to become the top scorer in Copa América 2024.

1. Lionel Messi, Argentina

In any tournament or league where Lionel Messi participates, he is one of the top favourites to win the top scorer title, and this time is no exception. His name alone is enough motivation, but it should also be noted that Messi usually takes Argentina's penalties, is dangerous on free kicks near the goal, and plays in arguably the best team in the tournament. On the downside, it should be mentioned that Messi is not a youngster anymore, and after two consecutive titles (Copa América 2021 and World Cup 2022), there is always a certain subconscious complacency.

2. Darwin Núñez, Uruguay

A Liverpool fan would probably consider it a joke to have Darwin Núñez second on the list of potential top scorers, and it is true that he has struggled to live up to expectations in his club. But in the national team, it is a completely different story, where he has a scoring rate of 0.47 goals per match. In the preparatory match before this tournament, he scored a hat-trick against Mexico, and Uruguay has two of the weakest teams in the tournament, Panama and Bolivia, in their group.

3. Lautaro Martinez, Argentina

Looking at Lautaro Martinez's goal trajectory throughout his career, one sees a constant upward curve in goal scoring, and this season was his best as he won the Serie A top scorer title with 24 goals. His scoring rate in the national team is also impressive, with 24 goals in 58 matches. He also plays alongside one of the world's best goal assisting players, Lionel Messi, and it is not at all impossible that he will surpass him in the goal charts in this tournament.

4. Luis Díaz, Colombia

Liverpool's Luis Díaz won the top scorer title together with Messi in the last Copa América, and he could certainly be at the top in this edition of the tournament as well. Colombia is a team that scores many goals when their play is on point, and if they go far in the tournament, Díaz can surely account for the majority of the team's goals, and perhaps it will be enough for a top scorer win again.

5. Endrick, Brazil

In Neymar's absence, someone else needs to step up for Brazil and score the goals, so who will that be? We could have chosen either Vinicius Júnior or Rodrygo, but the fact is that although both these Real Madrid players are incredibly talented forwards, they are not reliable goal scorers. In fact, Vinicius Júnior has only scored three international goals in 30 matches for Brazil. Instead, we take a chance on the super talent Endrick (also soon to be a Real Madrid player) to score the most goals for Brazil, and thus, show why he is such a hyped player. He has already scored three goals for the national team in six matches, all as a substitute. It is doubtful whether Endrick will be a starting player in the beginning of the tournament, but if he performs well as a substitute, it is not impossible that he will become a starter during the course of the tournament.

6. Jonathan David, Canada

Canada charmed many during the World Cup in Qatar with very attractive football but did not quite have the margins on their side. It might go better in this tournament, especially if their offensive star Jonathan David gets his scoring going. He has been a highly reliable goal scorer for his French team Lille for several seasons in a row, and his 26 goals in 48 international matches are also impressive.

7. Julián Álvarez, Argentina

That such a talented forward as Julián Álvarez ends up this far down the list says a lot about the competition at the top in the Argentine team. But just like in his club team, where he plays second fiddle behind Erling Braut Haaland, he is only third in the hierarchy in the national team's attack behind Messi and Martinez. However, it is not impossible that Álvarez will surpass both his attacking colleagues in terms of goals, provided he gets enough playing time.

8. Santiago Giménez, Mexico

Santiago Giménez scored goals in abundance in the first half of the Dutch league for Feyenoord this season, with 19 goals in the first 17 matches, and seemed to be heading for a major breakthrough in the football world. Unfortunately for him and Feyenoord, his goal production slowed down significantly in January, and in the second half of the season, he only scored four goals. When it comes to the national team, he has also not made a name for himself as a great goal scorer, with only four goals in 27 international matches, but if he can rediscover the form he had, he might start scoring plenty for Mexico as well.
Johan Sundin is a Swedish writer who was a promising soccer player but had to stop his career before it took off due to injuries. Nowadays he writes about everything possible in football and he has an extra passion for deadly strikers, players who have no exceptional technique but are always right and are merciless when the chance arises. Favorites over the years are strikers like Jürgen Klinsmann, Gabriel Batistuta, Ronaldo (the fat one) and Didier Drogba.