Copa America 2024 Preview: Top Five Sleepers & Dark Horses

Copa America 2024 Preview: Top Five Sleepers & Dark Horses

Copa America 2024 seems set as a changing of the guard. This may be the final major tournament for Lionel Messi, and if Argentina can get to the final as expected, it could be used as another goodbye for him, similar to this past World Cup. 

North American sides will hope playing on local soil will be enough, but Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay figure to stand tallest in the end. While it's hard to see the favorites faltering before the final, upsets are inevitable in the knockout rounds and there are a few sleepers who could surprise. 

Will it be the North American sides playing closer to home or maybe one of the scrappy South American underdogs?

UNITED STATES

The United States have participated in Copa America four times prior to 2024, never finishing above fourth while being knocked out twice in the group stage. This time could be the breakthrough because there's plenty of talent in this team. Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Yunus Musah, among others, are all regulars at some of the biggest clubs in Europe. While not an extreme underdog, anyone outside of Argentina and Brazil can be considered a sleeper in this tournament. The U.S. has plenty of depth and with the home crowd behind them, this seems like their best chance for a Copa America medal. 

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CANADA

The Canadian national team was one of the most promising young squads ahead of the 2022 World Cup, but they haven't really lived up to that hype. Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies are top talents, but there's been a lack of contribution elsewhere. Still, with the limited matches in this style of tournament, all it takes is those two getting hot and Canada could make a deep run. Being their first time in Copa America, there may be less pressure than normal. Then again, if they can't get out of group stages with new manager Jesse Marsch, the questions on this team's future will immediately begin.

CHILE

Chile have won two of the last four tournaments, though those titles came in 2015 and 2016, both in penalties over Argentina. Chile's superstars are well past their best. No. 1 goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is 41 years old, while Alexis Sanchez was relegated to a bench role with Inter Milan this past season. But that experience combined with the energy of someone like Ben Brereton Diaz could prove just enough to get out of group stages and beyond. Chile also have the benefit of a somewhat favorable group with the second spot up for grabs behind rivals, and reigning champions, Argentina.

ECUADOR

Ecuador drew the eyes of many in their 2022 World Cup-opening win over Ecuador and will hope they have a bit more resolve after still crashing out of those group stages. With a young squad featuring the likes of Piero Hincapie and Moises Caicedo, they could be set to make a bigger run at Copa America where their group is seemingly wide open unless Mexico play above their current level. Mexico are the smallest favorite from the four groups, which means Group B could truly be up for grabs, giving Ecuador a decent chance to win the group and into knockouts where anything can happen.

VENEZUELA

Venezuela have struggled for consistency in recent tournaments, but a more defensive approach lately has led to more success. As it stands, they're set to make the 2026 World Cup, having allowed just three goals in six qualifying matches. Similar to Ecuador, the reason Venezuela could advance in Copa America is because there isn't one clearly dominant team in Group B. If their defensive record continues and they can get something out of players like Salomon Rondon or Darwin Machis in the attack, then advancement is more than possible.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ian Faletti
Ian Faletti has been a fan of almost all esports (and sports) his entire life. He has been writing about esports since 2012, with his work appearing on RotoWire, ESPN and other entities. Ian cheers for Fnatic, the Nationals, and the Capitals.
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