2019 NFL Prediction: NFC North

Last season, this conference took the NFL by surprise. One team, in particular, caused a Midwestern storm: the Chicago Bears. QB Mitch Trubisky in his second season caused mayhem along with LB Khalil Mack’s excellence in defense and a Green Bay Packers’ team without QB Aaron Rodgers fell off the tracks and was forgotten about. This season, the Bears are favorites to win the conference yet again, but they still need to play their cards carefully and not let their guard down against the Minnesota Vikings or the Packers. The big question regarding this conference might be as to whether the Vikings or Packers can make playoffs this season as well or not if the Bears most likely will. 

Chicago Bears Lance Briggs” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

Chicago Bears

Last season’s record: 12-4

Postseason result: Cody Parkey’s missed field goal saw the Bears lose to the Philadelphia Eagles by one point in the second round of playoffs.

Off-season acquisitions:

Signed:

  • C Ted Larsen (Miami Dolphins)
  • RB Mike Davis (Seattle Seahawks)
  • WR Marvin Hall (Atlanta Falcons)
  • LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (New York Jets)
  • OT T.J. Clemmings (Oakland Raiders)

Undrafted signed players:

  • DL Daryle Banfield (Brown University)

Traded for:

  • K Eddy Pineiro

Drafted:

  • WR Riley Ridley (University of Georgia)
  • RB Kerrith Whyte Jr. (University of Florida)
  • RB David Montgomery (Iowa State)

Off-season departures:

Released TE Dion Sims, K Parkey (thank God) and Adrian Amos and waived OL Dejon Allen, K Redford Jones, K John Baron, DB Adarius Pickett, DE Lawrence Marshall and K Chris Blewitt.

The big question: 

The Bears’ current situation feels kind of like the Atlanta Braves’. A team with quality and skill in a good position, but with one major issue. In the Braves’ case, it would be their bullpen but for the Bears, the kicker situation seems a bit uneasy. As you can read, four kickers were either released or waived and Pineiro didn’t have a good day out in the Bears’ preseason match against the Tenessee Titans. But if the Bears can get the kicking situation sorted out, Bears are just as capable of repeating last season’s theatrics, if not do better. Davis and Hall are excellent additions for the offense to pair up with Trubisky, but last season, it was the Bears’ defense, led by Mack, which won them matches. Can Mack and his defense repeat last season’s heroics?

Prediction: 10-6

Green Bay Packers

Last season’s record: 6-9-1

Postseason result: Sorry, 2018 just wasn’t the year.

Off-season acquisitions:

Signed:

  • S Adrian Amos (Bears)
  • LB Preston Smith (Washington)
  • LB Za’Darius Smith (Baltimore Ravens)
  • OL Billy Turne (Broncos)

Resigned:

  • TE Marcedes Lewis

Drafted:

  • DE Rashan Gary (University of Michigan)
  • QB Manny Wilkins (Arizona State)

Claimed:

  • WR Jawill Davis (New York Giants)

Off-season departures:

  • Released LB Antonio Morrison, LB Nick Perry, G Nico Siragusa, S Jason Thompson, DL Mike Daniels and RB Darrin Hall, waived CB Javien Hamilton and WR Jordy Nelson retired.

The big question:

So as long as QB Aaron Rodgers doesn’t get injured, everything should be fine, right? Well, not entirely true. This Green Bay Packers team is a completely new Green Bay Packers with Matt LaFluer as head coach. The coaching staff has been completely remodeled from last year’s disappointing season. Due to all the changes, there’s plenty of questions to be asked regarding the starting line-up. It seems that draft picks Gary and Darnell Savage won’t have to wait too long before getting starts, but there’s still some uncertainty as to who will pair with Rodgers as a wide receiver? Green Bay would, of course, want to see big seasons from the likes of Marquez Valdes-Scantling and/or Equanimeous St. Brown, but one thing Green Bay fans should know from the last season is that you can’t expect anything and anything is unexpected. With that being said, can Green Bay’s wide receivers step up and support the offense in scoring?

Prediction: 7-9

Minnesota Vikings

Last season’s record: 8-7-1

Postseason result:  So about that…

Off-season acquisitions:

Signed:

  • RB Ameer Abdullah (Detroit Lions)
  • K Dan Bailey (Dallas Cowboys)
  • CB Bené Benwikere (Oakland Raiders)
  • G Josh Cline (Tennessee Titans)

Drafted:

  • C Garrett Bradbury (North Carolina State)
  • TE Irv Smith Jr. (University of Alabama)
  • RB Alexander Mattison (Boise State)
  • G Dru Samia (Oklahoma)
  • LB Cameron Smith (USC)

Off-season departures:

Waived CB Jalen Myrick, RB Roc Thomas and G Tyler Catalina and DE Brian Robison retired.

The big question:

The Minnesota Vikings were disappointing from the start last season. Disregarding the results, new quarterback Kirk Cousins didn’t prove to be good enough for Minnesota. The Vikings did an excellent job if filling in patches and rebuilding their defense with the likes of Cline in the off-season, but as to how well the offense will perform this season is like flipping a coin. QB Kyle Sloter may try to make a case for himself ahead of Cousins, but the Vikings have also improved their running game with the likes of Abdullah, Benwikere and Mattinson. With all that being said, however, can Cousins return to form a make a feared Vikings’ offense again?

Prediction: 8-8

Detroit Lions

Last season’s record: 6-10

Postseason result: Let me know when this changes.

Off-season acquisitions:

Signed:

  • WR Danny Amendola (Miami Dolphins)
  • OL Oday Aboushi (Arizona Cardinals)
  • S Andrew Adams (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  • CB Justin Coleman (Seattle Seahawks)
  • DE Trey Flowers (New England Patriots)
  • TE Jesse James (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  • WR Tommylee Lewis (New Orleans Saints)
  • TE Logan Thomas (Buffalo Bills)
  • CB Rashaan Melvin (Raiders)

Drafted:

  • TE T.J. Hockinson (Iowa)
  • DE Austin Bryant (Clemson)
  • Amani Oruwariye (Penn State)

Off-season departures:

Released S Glover Quin, WR Bruce Ellington, LB Nicholas Grigsby, WR Brandon Reilly, LB Tre’ Williams, WR Brandon Reilly and C Luke Bowanko cut G T.J. Lang and waived LB Juwon Young, TE Michael Roberts, LB Tre Lamar, DB Andrew Adams, DB Andre Chachere, WR Jordan Lasley, DE Eric Lee, WR Tommylee Lewis, DE Mitchell Loewen, OT Ryan Pope, P Ryan Santoso, G Micah St. Andrew and DB Jamar Summers.

The big question:

Coach Matt Patricia is being given a second chance, but that still doesn’t guarantee stability. Even if he doesn’t take the Lions to the playoffs, he still needs to improve on that 6-10 record, which, unfortunately, in the NFC North, will be very difficult to do. Patricia has improved on last season[‘s performances through his signings, but nothing is guaranteed as to whether they will perform or not. The Lions are yet to win in preseason as well. However, the second half of last season, their defense gave away just an average of three touchdowns, so that could be a bright spot to improve upon. The offense’s effectiveness will be the main focus as the Lions now have a good addition of tight ends and running backs. Can the Lions’ offense improve from last season? 

Prediction: 6-10

Predicted division standings:

  1. Chicago Bears (10-6)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
  3. Green Bay Packers (7-9)
  4. Detroit Lions (6-10)

2019 NFL Predictions: NFC South

It seems like so long ago that the New England Patriots won yet another Super Bowl, but nonetheless, we are all ready for this next season to start. The NFC South has four distinct stories to tell. One of the New Orleans Saints aiming for the Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers trying to recover from poor seasons and if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can turn some magic into success. Last season was somewhat of a let down since this division was promised to be one of the more competitive ones and in reality, the one one the Saints had to compete was themselves. But hopefully, this season won’t be the case, and perhaps more than one team from this division can make the playoffs?

0 Atlanta Falcons Julio Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Leonard Johnson” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

New Orleans Saints

Last season’s record: 13-3

Post-season result: Lost (debatably) to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • RB Latavlus Murray (Minnesota Vikings)
  • DT Malcom Brown (New England Patriots)
  • DE Mario Edwards Jr. (New York Giants)
  • TE Jared Cook (Oakland Raiders)
  • DE Wes Horton (Carolina Panthers)

Drafted:

  • WR Emmanuel Butler

Offseason departures: Released S Kurt Coleman, placed C Max Unger on the retired list and waived DB Chris Campbell.

Preview: All eyes this season will be on Running back Alvin Kamara. It’s highly unlikely that the New Orleans Saints won’t finish first in the NFC South again and the Saints may be NFC favorites for the Super Bowl. Last season’s 883 yards, resulting in 14 touchdowns, took the league by storm. Along with Kamara, the Saints will look to stick with nearly the same team as last season. Saints’ fans will pray that their team doesn’t become plagued with injuries. The Saints did waive most of their draft picks, but those who were retained have shined through in preseason thus far. Even in defense, Marson Lattimore made a name for himself against the New Jersey Jets, forcing a turnover on the 30-yard line. The Saints, last season, ended games really well, but started quite slowly, and if this season, they’re likely to face tougher competition in their conference, can the Saints score more in the first half? 

Prediction: 13-1-2

Carolina Panthers

Last season’s record: 7-9

Post-season result: Didn’t qualify for playoffs (sorry Cam Newton)

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • DE Bruce Irvin (Falcons)
  • WR Chris Hogan (Patriots)
  • WR Aldrick Robinson (Minnesota Vikings)
  • RB Javelin Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)
  • LS Andrew DePaola (Oakland Raiders)

Drafted:

  • LB Brian Burns
  • QB Will Grier.

Offseason departures: Released LB Ben Jacobs,  CB Captain Munnerlyn, T Matt Khalil, S Da’Norris Searcy and Waived T Isaiah Battle, G Brendan Mahon andTE Ethan Wolf.

Preview: The Carolina Panthers have been very active in the transfer window and have a lot of work to do if they want to make the playoffs this season. Actually, as long as QB Newton doesn’t get injured, it should happen. With Newton, last season, the Panthers started 6-2, a franchise record. The Panthers have bought well and hopefully, a backup in Greir can prove fruitful to Carolina. However, I feel like the Panthers didn’t work on their defense as much as they did their offense and I wonder if that will cost them. The Panthers’ biggest competition would be a fully-fit Falcons team in competing for that second-place spot. Can the Panthers offense beat the Falcons to second or will their defense hold them back?

Prediction: 9-7

Atlanta Falcons

Last season’s record: 7-9

Post-season result: Didn’t qualify for playoffs (everything kinda went wrong from the start)

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • RB Kenjon Barner (Patriots)
  • DT Stefan Charles (San Antonio Commanders)
  • TE Thomas Durate (Los Angeles Chargers)
  • K Blair Walsh (Seattle Seahawks)

Drafted:

  • OT Kaleb McGary
  • RB Tony Brooks James

Offseason departures: Waived DE Brooks Reed, T Ryan Schraeder, CB Rashad Causey, S Jason Thompson, CB Hamp Cheevers, LB Stephone Anthony and OL Tommy Davis.

Preview: Last season, I was quite confident in my prediction that the Atlanta Falcons would make the playoffs, but boy, was I well wrong. Defensive injuries plagued Dan Quinn’s Falcons, but this season, the chances of that happening once again are unlikely, so I’m going to bet the Falcons will have a better season this time around. The likes of Charles in the defense will bring some relief but there are still some concerns regarding this Falcons team, however. Kicker Walsh didn’t have a good day out in practice, missing plenty and the team is still heavily reliant on Julio Jones to win matches. In fact, last season, in the Falcons’ first game and loss against the Philadelphia Eagles, Joel Deering pointed out that there were plenty of times QB Matt Ryan could’ve passed the ball to Mohamad Sanu but only focused on Jones. Therefore, can the Falcons utilize their other offensive options to win games?

Prediction: 8-8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 5-11

Post-season result: Hmm…

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • LB Deone Bucannon (Arizona Cardinals)
  • Shaquil Barrett (Denver Broncos)
  • G Earl Watford (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • S Kentrell Brice (Green Bay Packers)

Drafted:

  • LB Devin White
  • CB Sean Bunting
  • CB Jamel Dean
  • S Mike Edwards
  • DE Anthony Nelson
  • K Matt Gay
  • WR Scotty Miller
  • DE Terry Beckner,

Signed undrafted free agents:

RB Bruce Anderson, G Zack Bailey, S Lukas Denis, WR Anthony Johnson and DaMarkus Lodge.

Claimed off waivers:

Emanuel Hall (Chicago Bears)

Offseason departures: Released DE Vinny Curry, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick P Bryan Anger and OL Evan Smith and waived QB Joe Callahan, LB Riley Bullough, WR Sergio Bailey, RB Shaun Wilson, TE Donnie Ernsberger, T Riley Mayfield, QB Vincent Testaverde, OLB Dare Odeyingbo, S Micah Abernathy and DL Shane Bowman.

Preview: To be honest, even those five wins last season were miracles. The problem is, there’s only one magician on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ team: Ryan Fitzpatrick, and he doesn’t even play for them anymore. The Buccaneers have done a load of transfers, signing plenty of rookies, rebuilding, hoping for the best, but the competition they have in this division is far too established. The Buccaneers can’t really even focus on a playoff spot this season, but should just try to build a solid and promising team from the mass of youngsters they have. Can the Buccaneers put their draft picks and signings to use and put on some promising performances?

Prediction: 4-12

Predicted division standings:

  1. New Orleans Saints (13-1-2)
  2. Carolina Panthers (9-7)
  3. Atlanta Falcons (8-8)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

What you missed this weekend: 8/16-8/18

It’s only a matter of a few weeks before the NFL and NBA get underway as Europe’s La Liga and English Premier League have already started. We still have some pre-season domestic news though along with some UFC and MLB action and the Ashes between England and Australia witnessed a thrilling second test of cricket. 

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215-365 Today at the Ashes Test Match by John Garghan is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

GOLF: BMW Championship

Tiger Woods’ season has come to a disappointing end. After 18 holes, Woods shot even-par 72, which was seven-under overall, and unfortunately, he doesn’t qualify for the next round.

UFC-241: Stipe Miocic

After just a little over four minutes into round four, Stipe Miocic won back his heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier. Although Cormier had 73 more strikes than his counterpart, all it took was just one knockout for Miocic to win his beloved prize. This is the fourth time a champion ended up losing in Anaheim.

NFL: 

Injury news

Los Angles Chargers have lost Derwin James for three to four months due to foot surgery. New Jersey Jets LB Avery Williams tore his ACL in a practice game against the Atlanta Falcons and will probably miss the whole season. The Arizona Cardinals starting cornerback, Robert Alford, broke his tibia bone and will have to sit out for half of the season. The Baltimore Ravens will have to do without Taven Young, who will miss the season due to a neck injury.

Josh McCown

The former Jets quarterback has done a U-turn on his decision to retire and has signed a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. He has signed just a one-year deal with the Eagles.

LA Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys had the edge against the Los Angeles Rams Saturday night in Hawaii, winning 14-10. Devin Smith and Tony Pollard both reached the endzone for Dallas while only JoJo Natson Jr. was able to convert for the Rams.

MLB: 

Gleyber Torres

Gleyber Torres makes his name with the New York Yankees by becoming the second-highest Home Run scorer in a season with the Yankees. He scored his 29th Home Run right before turning 23 years of age.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols brought light to his name by becoming the player born outside of the United States with the most hits. The Dominican-born player went to 3,168 hits on Saturday night for the Los Angeles Angels against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Soccer: 

Barcelona

Barcelona was welcomed to a shocking start in La Liga by losing 1-0 to Atletic Bilbao. The hero was Aritz Adruiz who scored in the 89th minute.

Cricket: 

The Ashes

Despite Steve Smith scoring 92(161), Australia ended up trailing England by 8 runs at the end of the first innings, being bowled out for 250. To Australia’s dismay, Smith was retired out first due to a concussion after being hit in the neck by a Jofra Archer bouncer. When he returned to bat, Chris Woakes caught him LBW after Smith mistakably left the ball. The second innings didn’t start well for England, especially when skipper Joe Root was caught behind the first ball but England found a hero at Lord’s once again in Ben Stokes, who scored his seventh test match century.

Australia needed 267 runs to win in just a few hours, so a draw was the most likely outcome, but for a good amount of time, the England bowlers excellently created doubt in the Australian batting ability. David Warner and Usman Khawaja were both dismissed caught off of Archer’s bowling, but substitute Marcus Labuschagne bravely got to 59 before being controversially being caught out by Joe Root at square leg. In the final hour, England needed four wickets to win and Australia wasn’t in reach of victory, but the likes of Archer, Joe Denly and Jack Leach were unable to find the wickets and the match was declared a draw.

Australia currently leads the five-match series 0-1 after two tests.

What you may have missed this weekend: 7/5 – 7/7

If you didn’t think much happened in the last few days around the world in sports, trust me, a lot more happened then you think. Along with the NBA Free Agency headlines, there were three soccer finals yesterday and a special 15-year old is causing an earthquake in London’s Wimbledon. So without further ado, let’s start by seeing what the Los Angeles Lakers are up to during the NBA Free Agency.

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Coco Gauff by Kate Tann is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

NBA

Lakers on the hunt:

After a dismal NBA season, the Lakers are being quick to patch their team by signing some big names. Right after Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard announced his decision, Danny Green announced he would be signing with the Lakers for a two year, $30 million deal. The other big name to come to Los Angeles is DeMarcus Cousins from Golden State Warriors and Rojan Rondo is set to rejoin his former team. The Lakers completed three more signings in JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Quinn Cook.

Clippers, Thunder secure big trade:

After the Los Angeles Clippers signed NBA Champion Kawhi Leonard, they were quick to move for Oklahoma City Thunder’s Paul George. However, the Clippers have had to give up a lot for George. First, they traded away Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari, but also four future first-round picks, another protected first-round pick in 2023 and an extra potential two more picks of the Clippers.

 

UFC 239 (By RahimAli Merchant)

Jones beats Santos, Nunes wrecks Helms:

It was a busy week in Las Vegas for the world of sports, we not only saw the start of the NBA’s Summer league where Zion Williamson showed off, but we got to feel an earthquake or two that might have changed the whole atmosphere. The fight between Jon Jones and Tiago Santos was not affected by the earthquake, but they definitely hit the road running with a five-round contest that ended in a decision by the judges that gave Jones (25-1) the controversial victory.

Let’s not forget about the women. Though the men were the highlight of the night, Amanda Nunes did some quick work to Holly Helms with a head kick knockout in the first round to claim the victory. Both Helms and Nunes have proven that MMA is not just for the boys.

 

Wimbledon:

Coco Gauff advances to Round of 16:

After a shocking victory against 15-year old Coco Gauff’s idol, Venus Williams, Gauff sealed her place in the Round of 16 by beating Pelona Hercog on Friday. After losing the first round unfortunately by six sets to three, Gauff won a 7-9 tiebreaker in the second set, before nearly avoiding another tiebreaker in the third set, winning 5-7. Gauff is currently playing possibly her hardest opponent yet, Simona Halep. What’s most impressive about Gauff’s playing style is her youthful athletic ability on the court.

 

Soccer:

USA wins fourth World Cup title:

After beating France earlier in the tournament, the US proved they were favorites to retain the FIFA World Cup title and had one last game to play before lifting the trophy: the Netherlands. After a tight, scoreless first half, VAR played a role once again in giving the US a penalty in the 61st minute, which Megan Rapinoe scored. Just eight minutes later, Rose Lavelle netted a second for the US and the US won 2-0, adding a fourth star.

Mexico wins another Gold Cup:

The US Men’s National Team were involved in another soccer final on the same day as the Women’s, and just like the earlier, the favorites won, but in this game, the US wasn’t the favorites to win. The US had an excellent Gold Cup, without a doubt, but Mexico was far too strong. Despite Mexico only scoring once through Jonathan Dos Santos, the US wasted plenty of opportunities to score under pressure, and Mexico lifted the trophy at the end of the night.

Brazil beats Peru in Copa América Finals:

Peru made a Cinderella run to the Copa América Finals, but they were unable to compete with the hosts as Brazil routed Peru 3-1 to win their first Copa América since 2007. Everton continued his excellent tournament and international career by opening the scoring in the 15th minute before Gabriel Jesus typically added a second right before the half. Peru got one back through their hero Paulo Guererro, who scored a penalty in the 44th minute, but Richarlison put the nail in the coffin by scoring Brazil’s third in the 90th minute.

What you missed this weekend: 6/21-6/23

Another week in this summer has flown by really quickly and with that, another weekend! Although domestically, there wasn’t much action on the field, the NBA and NHL leagues had their drafts for the next season. The MLB, a summer tradition, of course still continues and the US is currently involved in the Women’s FIFA World Cup and the Gold Cup. Speaking of the Americas, the group stages of the Copa America have nearly been concluded and some teams are either making their exits or pushing for a Semi-final spot in the Cricket World Cup as well. Let’s start off with some historic draft picks, first with the NBA.

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IMG_4921 by Dinur is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

NBA Draft

Bol drafted surprisingly low:

Oregon player Bol Bol was expected to be one of the top picks but didn’t get drafted until Miami Heat picked him up as the 44th overall. Concerns about his injuries were likely the key reason. He did miss the rest of the last season after November following an ankle injury, but Bol himself says, “My foot is 100 percent healed.” Following the pick, Bol was traded to the Denver Nuggets, who have a different approach, a more positive one, to the Bol situation. Tim Connelly, the President of Basketball Operations at the Denver Nuggets said, “It’s hard not to be excited,” when referring to Bol.

Timberwolves exchange Saric for number six pick:

The Minnesota Timberwolves exchanged their no. 11 pick and Dario Saric for a number six pick from the Phoenix Suns. The Minnesota President Gersson Rosas was working for some time to move the Timberwolves’ pick up higher and settled for sixth. If the Suns chose to keep Saric, he would be a good pick after he averaged 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds last season.

Hachimura becomes the first Japanese player drafted in the first round:

Only two Japanese players have ever been drafted before in NBA history, and Rui Hachimura became the first one to be drafted in the first round. The Washington Wizards drafted Hachimura as their ninth overall pick, citing his flexibility to play multiple positions and his key role in the Japanese national team, heading into the Olympics. Being a junior at Gonzaga, he averaged 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

NHL Draft

Record eight US players picked in the first round:

Starting with Jack Hughes to the New Jersey Devils, eight players in total from the US under-18 national team were selected in the first round. The previous record was four in 2000, 19 years ago. Typically, the draft is dominated by European players. Here is a list of the American players drafted and by which team:

  • Jack Hughes to New Jersey Devils, no. 1
  • Alex Turcotte to Los Angeles Kings, no. 5
  • Trevor Zegras to Anaheim Ducks, no. 9
  • Matthew Boldy to Minnesota Wild, no. 12
  • Spencer Knight to Florida Panthers, no. 13
  • Cam York to Philadelphia Flyers, no. 14
  • Caul Caufield to Montreal Canadiens, no. 15
  • John Beecher to Boston Bruins, no. 30

MLB

A warm welcome home for Pujols:

Although Albert Pujols’ current team, the Los Angeles Angels lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 2-4 on Saturday, the moment of the match came for the Angels when Pujols homered in the seventh innings in front of his former home crowd. The sold-out St. Louis crowd greeted Pujols with loud cheers and salutes, to which Pujols responded by returning from the dugout and tipping his hat.

FIFA Women’s World Cup

Germany crushes Nigeria 3-0 in Round of 16:

Both Germany and the US are currently undefeated and both Germany and the US are yet to concede a goal in the entire tournament! Alexandra Popp scored the opener in her 100th appearance for the country with a header in the 20th minute. Seven minutes later, Sara Daebritz netted in a penalty for the Germans. Both goals were given with the assistance of VAR, to the dismay of Nigeria. The third goal didn’t come until the 86th minute after Lea Schüller scored.

Norway sends Australia home after penalties:

After the game ended 1-1 at the end of the two-hour mark, Norway beat Australia on penalties 4-1. Before penalties, Australia fell a player short after Alanna Kennedy was sent off. Both sides did have plenty of chances missed though as Norway had 11 shots off target out of their 24, and Australia, despite having six percent more possession, registered only 8 shots, four on target.

England too good for Cameroon:

Just like Germany, England beat their Round of 16 opponents, Cameroon, 3-0. England’s first goal, which came in the 14th minute, was a rarity, coming from an indirect free kick (a free kick inside the keeper’s box in which defenders can defend the goal) after the Cameroon goalkeeper, Annette Ngo Ndom, picked up the ball after it hit her own teammate last. The Cameroon players ran into some trouble with VAR after Ajara Nchout’s goal was deemed offside and the players clearly objected in the dying minutes of the first half. Alex Greenwood got the third goal in for England at the 57th minute after receiving a pass from a corner kick and netting it in the low right corner.

France survives Brazil scare:

France played an intense game at home against Brazil where the game had ended 1-1 at the end of the 90th minute. Valérie Gauvin opened the scoring for the French in the 52nd minute before Thaisa scored an absolute beauty in the 63rd minute for Brazil. Thaisa’s goal was originally called offside but was overturned after a VAR review. The moment of the game came in the 106th minute when Amandine Henry scored in the bottom left corner after receiving a long free kick and France beat Brazil 2-1.

Copa América

Machís, Martínez send Venezuela through to Quarter-finals:

After struggling to find some goals in their opening two matches, Venezuela beat Bolivia 3-1 to advance to the Quarter-finals and finish second in their group. In the first few minutes, one could tell it was all over for Bolivia as Machís ran easily through the defense to meet a cross with his head in the second minute, which found the back of the net due to poor goalkeeping. Atlanta United’s Josef Martínez ended up scoring a header too in the 86th minute, right after Leonel Justiniano was able to pull one back for the Bolivians four minutes earlier.

Peru qualifies for knockout rounds despite Brazil thrashing:

In the final game of Group A, Brazil beat Peru 5-0, but Peru’s four points were enough to get them past the group stage. All five goalscorers for Brazil were different with Casemiro, Roberto Firmino with a no-look goal and Everton scoring in the first half, before Dani Alves netted and Willian scored in the last minute. Brazil finished first in the group with seven points.

Argentina beats Qatar to qualify for Quarter-finals:

Argentina needed to win to survive in this Copa América and they did just that. Lautaro Martínez scored in the fourth minute and Sergio Aguero made it 2-0 in the 86th. Argentina finished second in their group, leaving Paraguay in third at Qatar packing their bags at fourth.

Cricket World Cup:

England no longer favorites:

It seems that England has lost their title of favorites once Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunuratne handed the ball to veteran Lasith Malinga. On a slow Leeds pitch, Sri Lanka scored 232-9 after Angelo Matthews stepped up with his 85(115)*, and was hoping that would be enough to bowl England out. Surely enough, it was. Not only did Malinga pick up four wickets, but he also picked up the most crucial of them, getting both of the English openers along with Joe Root and Jos Buttler out. Spinner Dhananjaya de Silva helped clean up the lower order, grabbing the wickets of Moeen Ali, who miscued a shot to Isuru Udana at long mid-on, and having both Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid caught behind. Ben Stokes played a heroic effort, scoring 82*, but the game ended when Mark Wood edged Nuwan Pradeep behind on duck at the end of the 47th over. England is still in the top four, but they play Australia, India and New Zealand next while Sri Lanka’s semi-final hopes are still alive.

Afghanistan nearly causes World Cup’s greatest upset:

Six days after India beat Pakistan by 89 runs, one wouldn’t think Afghanistan would be too big of a problem for Virat Kohli’s India either. But Afghanistan’s spinners Mujeeb Ur-Rehman and Rashid Khan attacked the Indian batting extremely well, leaving them desperate at 224-8. Rohit Sharma, six days prior, scored 140 but was dismissed for just one after being bowled by Ur-Rehman. Kedhar Jadhav also played a handy 52 off 68, but India would’ve thought they fell short on runs. Man of the Match Mohammad Shami got the crucial wicket of Afghanistan opener Hazratullah Zazai, but Rahmat Shah and Mohammad Nabi held their ground, frustrating the Indian bowlers. After an over of six yorkers by Jasprit Bumrah, Afghanistan needed 12 from the last over but Shami completed a World Cup hattrick, taking the wickets of Nabi, who was caught by Pandya at long mid-on, and bowling both Aftab Alam and Ur-Rehman.

Brathwaite can make history but not re-create it:

Three years after Carlos Brathwaite hit four sixes against Stokes in the final over in Kolkata, Brathwaite was bound to do something similar against New Zealand in Manchester. The match started off West Indies’ way when Sheldon Cottrell found two wickets in the first over, trapping Martin Guptill LBW first ball and bowling Colin Munro. A 160-run partnership between New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor made things right before Taylor departed for 69 off of Chris Gayle’s bowling and Cottrell added a third wicket in Williamson being caught behind.

Gayle was brilliant in the next innings, scoring 87(84), but the Kiwis did pick two early wickets in Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran. Trent Boult was brilliant for New Zealand, registering four wickets and three runs per over and securing a very important catch later on. After Gayle was dismissed in the 24th over, a middle-order collapse left West Indies’ fans worrying as West Indies were at 245-9 at the 45th over, Brathwaite on 60* at the time. With just one wicket left, Brathwaite hit five sixes to get him to his maiden One-Day International century and with just six runs needed to win from seven deliveries, Brathwaite went for six again, but Boult was sitting at the mid-wicket boundary, waiting for the catch. Brathwaite was left crying on his knees as New Zealand ended up winning by five runs.

Pakistan comes to light; South Africa in disarray:

Both sides needed a win in order to stay alive in the World Cup, but it looks like South Africa will be the one going home. Pakistan had a perfect start at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London with openers Imam Ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman involved in an 81-run partnership, before both batsmen were dismissed for 44. Babar Azam scored yet another half-century, but the most impressive batsman was Haris Sohail, who came in for Shoaib Malik, scoring 85 off just 59 to take Pakistan to 308-7.

South Africa, who have never chased a target above 300 in a World Cup before, was off to a bad start when Mohammad Amir got Hashim Amla out LBW with his very first delivery. Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis worked to recover with their 87-run partnership before Shadab Khan found the wicket of de Kock, who was caught at fine leg by Ul-Haq. From there, Pakistan continued to take regular wickets as Amir had a total of two and Khan and Wahab Riaz both had three wickets to their name. Andile Phelukwayo’s 46(32)* prevented Pakistan from bowling South Africa out, but Pakistan still won by 49 runs.

 

Copa America 2019 Week Three preview

There are just three days left until the group stages of the Copa America concludes and six matches to cover. These matches are very crucial as they will determine who makes it out of the group stages and who doesn’t. Two teams have already made it out of the group stages: Colombia, after they beat Qatar 1-0 and the reigning champions Chile, once they beat Ecuador 2-1. Two teams have already said good-bye to their knockout stage hopes: Ecuador and Bolivia, and a few more are at risk of not advancing. In Group B, Paraguay is hoping to win against Colombia but Argentina could fall to the hands of guest nation Qatar. Finally, in Group C, although Uruguay could lose their second-placed spot to Japan. There’s plenty of possibilities that can unfold, so let’s preview and predict the next three days of South American and Asian footballing action with RahimAli Merchant and I!

URUGUAY CHAMPION OF AMÉRICA |  Copa America 2011 |
URUGUAY CHAMPION OF AMÉRICA by Jimmy Baikovicius is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Bolivia vs. Venezuela

For Venezuela, this match is important to secure passage out of the group stage in an attempt to finish at least second in the group. Venezuela is in a bit of an unfortunate position because even if Venezuela wins here, all Peru needs is one point against Brazil to knock Venezuela back down into third. It is possible to advance finishing third, and will likely happen as Qatar have to face Argentina. And although Venezuela has a goal difference of zero, there’s disappointment around their attacking ability as Venezuela have had to settle for two draws in two games.

Venezuela is still far favorites to win this game, mainly due to defense. Bolivia has scored just once in two matches and they’re going up against a defense which managed to hold a clean sheet against Brazil. Both teams have fully fit squads, but to make things worse for the Bolivians, Luis Mago should be returning from suspension for Venezuela and Solomon Róndon is favored to open the goal-scoring.

Maybe to prevent another draw, Venezuela might want to push to attack more. Bolivia is weak on the field and tactically as they haven’t seen victory in six matches now. Perhaps forward Josef Matínez could start alongside Róndon in this match?

Prediction:

Aman: BOL 1-2 VEN

Rahim: BOL 0-2 VEN

 

Peru vs. Brazil

Before you jump to conclusions and assume Brazil will easily roll over this opponent, one glance at the table and you’ll realize that Brazil and Peru are tied on points, both teams boasting a win and a draw. Both sides defensively have been rather fine and will look to repair their attacks. Brazil manager Tite has already expressed that he will be making some changes to the lineup against Peru, likely indicating starts for Gabriel Jesús and Everton. Peruvian fans will be hoping that striker Paulo Guererro can fight the defense and score, just like how he did against Bolivia.

Prediction:

Aman: PER 1-3 BRS

Rahim: PER 1-3 BRS

 

Qatar vs. Argentina:

All eyes will be on this one. Both of these teams are fighting for their survival as Qatar are third in their group and Argentina are fourth, both on one point. Despite Argentina naturally being favorites to win this match, Qatar will be optimistic as Argentina has struggled offensively and Qatar’s defense was brilliant in their 1-0 loss against Colombia. There will be some frustration running in the mind of the Argentine manager, Lionel Scaloni, as in the first match, Angel Di María was unable to score and in the second game, Lautaro Martínez didn’t find success either. Perhaps a formation change back to three at the front is necessary and Premier League Champions Serge Aguero can start alongside Lionel Messi.

For Qatar, all hope will be in the hands of two men: forward Al-moez Ali, as he’s Qatar’s only goal-scorer in the tournament so far, and goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb. All Qatar needs to out-beat Argentina in the table is a draw, something that now seems like a realistic possibility. Argentina cannot afford anything less than a win and could even jump to second if Colombia beats Paraguay. There’s a lot more pressure on Argentina than Qatar, but the main question will be if Qatar’s defense can handle Argentina’s attacking options?

Prediction:

Aman: QAT 1-4 ARG

Rahim: QAT 0-3 ARG

 

Colombia vs. Paraguay

Although Paraguay could advance whether they lose, draw or win against Colombia, depending on the Argentina v. Qatar result, the Paraguayans will at least be looking for a draw. They have already drawn both of their matches against Qatar and Argentina, the first one ending in rue and the second in jubilation. Against Qatar, Paraguay gave up a 2-0 lead in the second half, but against Argentina, Paraguay came back through a Richard Sánchez goal to tie one all. A win against Colombia will ensure that Paraguay progresses while anything less would leave them in a sticky situation.

Although Paraguay probably fears Colombia’s attacking capability, Colombia will need some refining after it took them 86 minutes to break the deadlock against Qatar. Duván Zapata should start as he’s scored twice in two games now and perhaps Radamel Falcao might be benched. Another thing Colombia needs to keep in mind is that the last time these two sides faced each other, Colombia wasn’t the winner, Paraguay was.

Prediction:

Aman: COL 2-2 PAR

Rahim: COL 2-2 PAR

 

Chile vs. Uruguay

This is probably going to be the most competitive game of the group stages, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have much context. Chile has already moved on to the Quarter-finals and Uruguay is nearly guaranteed qualification.

Both sides won’t want to tamper with their lineups, but Uruguay may need to rethink tacts. Their defense struggled to read Japan’s counter-attacks when they drew 2-2 and the attack wasn’t clinical enough in the box during the first half. Otherwise, Uruguay has plenty of skill to take down Chile.

Prediction:

Aman: CHL 0-1 URU

Rahim: CHL 1-0 URU

 

Ecuador vs. Japan

Most likely, Japan will finish third in Group C, so it’s important Japan wins, so they can have plenty of points if they qualify for the Quarter-finals. The good news for Japan is that they are favored to win.

Japan did away with goal-scoring worries after their counter-attacks proved too good for Uruguay. Koji Miyoshi proved to be the star of the show after netting twice.

For Ecuador, they have the attacking capabilities to beat Japan in Enner and Antonio Valencia, but both of them are yet to register a goal in this tournament. To make matters worse, Ecuador will be without Gabriel Achilier in this fixture as he was red-carded in the 89th minute vs. Chile.

Prediction:

Aman: ECU 0-3 JAP

Rahim: ECU 1-2 JAP

Copa America 2019: Round Two preview and predictions

Week One of the beloved Copa America was a good opening week for any soccer competition, holding a fair share of heroic, thrilling and upsetting matches. Brazil started well as Phillip Coutinho’s two goals led them to a 3-0 win over Bolivia at home before Colombia upset Argentina 2-0 the following day. Paraguay and Qatar played a very entertaining 2-2 draw and Japan couldn’t stand up on their feet as they lost to Chile 4-0. This week, Bolivia and Peru both are searching for a win and Venezuela will want to try their luck against Brazil. Colombia is hoping to continue the good form vs. Qatar as Argentina will be desperate for a win against Paraguay. Finally, Japan needs a win against Uruguay and Ecuador take on Chile. Without haste, let’s preview the six matches and check out RahimAli Merchant’s and my predictions. 

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Scott Brown by Ronnie Macdonald is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Bolivia vs. Peru

Bolivian fans might be relieved they are playing an opponent nowhere near the caliber of Brazil, but unfortunately, they’re still not favorites against Peru. Peru might be disappointed with a draw against Venezuela, but they are still far stronger than Bolivia, especially with an established striker like Paulo Guererro up front. Heading into this match, Bolivia is probably aware that they will be out of the competition if they lose, to the dismay of their fans. Peru could do with a draw, but a win will dramatically increase their chances of making the Quarter-finals.

For both teams, all the players are fully fit and there are no suspensions. If Bolivia can be more confident in attacking, this can be a very interesting matchup indeed.

Predictions:

Aman: BOL 1-3 PER

Rahim: BOL 0-2 PER

Brazil vs. Venezuela

Although Brazil is clear favorites in this fixture, Venezuela is capable of providing an upset. Venezuela is in fine form and is looking to run deep in this tournament, but they’ve faced an early blow. Venezuelan goalkeeper Luis Migo was sent off in the 75th minute so Wuilker Farinez will likely start in his place. Both of them prevented a single one of Peru’s 17 shots from going into the goal, so it won’t be easy by any means for Brazil to win. Brazil, on the other hand, will want goals as the first half of the Bolivia game ended 0-0.

Predictions:

Aman: BRS 2-1 VEN

Rahim: BRS 2-1 VEN

Colombia vs. Qatar

It seems that Colombia is guaranteed a spot in the knockout rounds, considering all they have to do is beat Qatar, but I wouldn’t write Qatar off yet. They were a bit off form against Paraguay, but in the second half, things were much better as Qatar’s united team passed well with each other and found a goal. But if Colombia was able to beat Argentina, how much can you fancy Qatar’s chances?

Qatar will probably stick with the same squad but Colombia could have one or two changes. Roger Martínez is likely guaranteed to replace the injured Luis Muriel after he was subbed off in the 14th minute against Argentina and Duvan Zapata could switch out for Radamel Falcao after he scored in his ten minutes the last match, but there are questions about the attack’s stability if Falcao doesn’t start.

Predictions:

Aman: COL 3-1 QAT

Rahim: COL 3-0 QAT

Argentina vs. Paraguay

ALL EYES will be on Argentina. After losing humiliatingly 2-0 to Colombia, Argentina need a win or they risk being knocked out in the group stages! Paraguay, on the other hand, might fancy their chances but will have some concerns after they let a 2-0 lead slip against Qatar. Both sides will need to rethink their starting lineups, Argentina in the attack and Paraguay in the defense. For Paraguay, Gustavo Gomez might get himself a start and Argentina could also make a few changes, bringing in Rodrigo De Paul for Angel Di María and Lautaro Martinez in for Sergio Aguero.

Predictions:

Aman: ARG 3-2 PAR

Rahim: ARG 2-1 PAR

Uruguay vs. Japan

It seems that Uruguay are favorites, especially with Edinson Cavani up front, but Japan can give them a hard time. Uruguay got this tournament underway with a 4-0 win over Ecuador and Japan lost 4-0 to Chile. The good news for Japan is that Uruguay’s most prolific goalscorer, Luis Suarez, is unable to play, but that doesn’t greatly improve Japan’s winning chances as Maya Yoshida is unable to start on Thursday.

Predictions:

Aman: JAP 2-4 URU

Rahim: JAP 1-1 URU

Ecuador vs. Chile

Ecuador disappointed against Uruguay while Chile came out of their poor form to roar in their opening game against Japan. To make things even worse for Ecuador, they will be without midfield maestro José Quinteros as he has been suspended by a red card. Chile, against Japan, proved their firepower wasn’t done as Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez were able to get their names on the scoring sheet.

Predictions:

Aman: ECU 0-3 CHL

Rahim: ECU 0-2 CHL

Some teams are hoping to turn things around this week while others are trying to make sure they don’t slip in the coming matches. Hopefully, this week will be more competitive than the last and some teams will try to find a place out of the group stages. All the games are live in the US in Spanish on Telemundo, in English on ESPN and in Portuguese on ESPN+.

Copa America 2019 Preview

Most domestic leagues around the world are coming to an end, but luckily this summer won’t be boring. It’ll be anything from it, to be honest! With multiple international tournaments running, it can be hard at times to know to choose one to follow. While the FIFA U-20 World Cup and the Women’s World Cup are running, two continental tournaments are about to kick off, the North American Gold Cup and the South American Copa America. 

We covered a bit of the Gold Cup in this week’s Buy or Sell but this article will be dedicated to where most eyes will be on, the Copa America. The tournament returns to Brazil and twelve teams take part, divided into three groups of four. There are ten South American teams and two guest nations. This year, both guests are from Asia: Japan and World Cup host Qatar. 

The tournament starts tomorrow, Friday, June 14, with the first game being between Brazil and Bolivia in São Paulo. So without further ado, let’s preview this thing group by group and RahimAli Merchant and I will also provide our Matchweek one predictions. 

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Copa America Venezuela 2007 by Eduardo J. Sanchez-Redondo H. is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Group A

Brazil: 

Recent form: WWWDL (Most recent first)

After their World Cup exit against Belgium, Brazil has been ruthless. They beat Czechia 3-1, Qatar 2-0 and most importantly, Honduras 7-0! That, along with getting to play at home, can fire them all the way to the trophy. But sometimes, their crowd can be a disadvantage and backfire, with pressure being too much to deal with (Yeah, the world hasn’t forgotten the 7-1 loss to Germany yet. Sorry Brazil). Brazil will also be without their best player Neymar, but this may be for the better. Brazil’s squad is strong with Premier League winner Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho, Champions League winner Roberto Firmino and Ligue Une winner Dani Alves within the team.

Prediction: Group A winners & tournament winners

 

Bolivia:

Recent form: LLLDL

They might’ve been good enough to qualify for the Copa America but Bolivia is bound to be one of the worst performers. They’re up against Brazil, World Cup team Peru and Venezuela, who just defeated the US 3-0 in their group. But although Bolivia may not have a strong set of players, their excellent teamwork can make Bolivia scary on the counter-attack. However, their team just isn’t as strong as the opponents they have to face.

Prediction: Fourth in Group A

 

Peru:

Recent form: LWLWW

Peru will be one of the more confident, but wary sides, and perhaps the most interesting to see at this Copa America. Their squad will be the same one which went to the World Cup last summer, the same one which beat Australia. To make things even better, Peru’s main striker, Paolo Guerrero, is returning after a drug ban.

Prediction: Third in Group A & Quarter-finalists

 

Venezuela:

Recent form: WLDWW

Although Venezuela is the only side in this group to have never played in a World Cup, I actually think they’ll finish ahead of Peru and Bolivia in their group. They beat one of the best teams in North America and have a win against Argentina from March under their belt. Their attack is attractive to watch with the likes of Salomon Rondon and Josef Martínez. The rest of the team is rather young but filled with potential as Venezuela were finalists in the 2007 U-20 FIFA World Cup.

Prediction: Second in Group A & Semi-finalists

 

Matches to watch:

Venezuela vs Peru on Saturday, June 15

Brazil vs Venezuela on Tuesday, June 18

Peru vs Brazil on Saturday, June 22

 

Matchweek One Predictions:

Aman: Brazil 4-0 Bolivia

Rahim: Brazil 6-0 Bolivia

Aman: Venezuela 2-1 Peru

Rahim: Venezuela 2-0 Peru

 

Group B

Argentina:

Recent form: WWLLW

Despite a rather dismal World Cup, you can still back Argentina to go far in this Copa America. The attack is second-to-none in South America with Lionel Messi, Angel di Maria and Sergio Aguero probably making up the front three. The only difficult competition in their group will be Colombia, otherwise, I back Argentina to go all the way to the finals in Rio de Janeiro. The question will be whether they can win that final or not. It’s been heartbreaking for Argentina, losing two back-to-back Copa America finals vs Chile and the World Cup finals in 2014 vs Germany.

Prediction: Second in Group B & Semi-Finalists

 

Colombia:

Recent form: WWLWL

Colombia has everything well going for them. James Rodriguez returns to squad from injury and Colombia have Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz with them. Colombia’s got a  squad with pace and flair with the likes of Juan Cuadrado, Duvan Zapata and Radamel Falcao on the attack Cristian Borja in the middle, Yerry Mina at the back and David Ospina in goal. This team is definitely capable of beating Argentina, though their weakness might actually Japan if they encounter them in the knockout stages.

Prediction: First in Group B & Runners Up

 

Paraguay:

Recent form: WDLWL

Paraguay can easily perform well and make it out of the group stages, but at the same time, everything can go easily wrong. Paraguay did make it to the Quarter-finals in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. However, Paraguay has a new manager-Eduardo Berizzo-to work with. While Paraguay historically has placed emphasis on deep defense, Berizzo wants to change the style too high pressure attacking, something which might work well with Newcastle United and Paraguay winger Miguel Almirón. Their matchup against a united side like Qatar will be interesting to see, but beating Colombia and Argentina will be hard to back.

Prediction: Fourth in Group B

 

Qatar:

Recent form: LWWWW

Although they lost in a friendly 2-0 to Brazil, Qatar has just won the Asia Cup, beating Japan in the finals 3-1. In that tournament, they out-did South Korea as well in the Quarter-finals 1-0. At first, it may seem easy to write off a guest side like Qatar, but Qatar’s recent form will scare any opponent they face. The team knows each other and their playing style really well, probably the best in this tournament, and there is also some young talent present, like forward Almoez Ali. The problem is that conditions in Brazil will be very different from the Middle East, with crowds being nearly entirely South American. The weather and South American playing style will also be difficult to adapt to. But wouldn’t it be nice if Qatar goes back home with a win? Maybe against Paraguay?

Prediction: Third in Group B

 

Matches to watch:

Argentina vs Colombia on Saturday, June 15

Paraguay vs Qatar on Sunday, June 16

Qatar vs Argentina on Sunday, June 23

 

Matchweek One Predictions:

Aman: Argentina 3-1 Colombia

Rahim: Argentina 1-1 Colombia

Aman: Paraguay 2-0 Qatar

Rahim: Paraguay 1-0 Qatar

 

Group C

Chile:

Recent form: WDLLW

Despite winning the previous two editions of the Copa America, everything has gone downhill for Chile. They failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup last year, and this year, they’ve lost to Mexico 3-1 and Brazil 3-0, and could only manage a 1-1 draw against the US. Their group can’t be called easy either as they are put up against Ecuador, two-time World Cup winners Uruguay and Asia Cup Runners Up Japan.

Prediction: Third in Group C & Quarter-finalists

 

Ecuador:

Recent form: LDDLL

Their recent form is probably the poorest out of the twelve teams in the Copa America. The last time they played Chile, they lost 2-1 and could only force draws against Honduras and the US. There’s even ambiguity around their manager Hernan Dario Gomez if he will take this tournament and World Cup 2022 qualification seriously or not after he admitted he didn’t take Ecuador’s failures in the 2001 and the 2004 Copa Americas seriously. However, Ecuador does have a famous attacking line, and three names, in particular, will look to provide most of the goals for Ecuador: Antonio Valencia, Enner Valencia and Jhegson Mendez.

Prediction: Fourth in Group C

 

Japan:

Recent form: WDWLL

Despite losing the Asia Cup finals to Qatar, Japan’s two wins over El Salvador and Bolivia will provide them with confidence before the Copa America begins. It’s hard to see the Japanese finishing first in their group with Uruguay in their group, but if Chile’s form remains low, they can certainly push for second. Japan’s got a very young side, as 18 of their players are under 22, but that can cause some worry when it comes to being able to hold off the likes of Uruguay and Chile. Japan, defensively, is a strong team, as we saw when they beat Colombia in the World Cup, but will anyone be able to assist Shinji Okazaki up front with goalscoring?

Prediction: Second in Group C

 

Uruguay:

Recent form: WWWLW

One of the best teams in this cup, Uruguay are almost certain to top this group. They have Luis Suarez up front, Lucas Torriera in the middle, Diego Godin in defense and Fernando Muslera in goal. Unfortunately, Edinson Cavani might be unavailable due to injury, but defensive midfielder Jose Maria Gimenez has been a proven goalscorer.

Prediction: Group C winners & Semi-finalists

 

Matches to watch:

Japan vs Chile on Monday, June 17

Chile vs Uruguay on Monday, June 24

 

Matchweek One Predictions:

Aman: Uruguay 3-0 Ecuador

Rahim: Uruguay 2-1 Ecuador

Aman: Japan 1-2 Chile

Rahim: Japan 0-1 Chile

 

The Copa America begins tomorrow on Wednesday, June 14 with Brazil vs Bolivia. All matches will be broadcasted in the US in English and Portuguese on ESPN+ and in Spanish on Telemundo.