Here is how Red fared in his Group Play predictions.
Group A Red – Uruguay and Egypt Group A Results – Uruguay and Russia
Group B Red – Portugal and Spain Group B Results – Spain and Portugal
Group C Red – France and Peru Group C Results – France and Denmark
Group D Red – Argentina & Iceland Group D Results – Croatia and Argentina
Group E Red – Brazil & Costa Rica Group E Results – Brazil and Switzerland
Group F Red – Germany & Mexico Group F Results – Sweden and Mexico
Group G Red – Belgium & England Group G Results – England and Belgium
Group H Red – Columbia & Poland Group H Results – Columbia and Japan
Red was 10 of 16 for the Round of 16. A really good grouping would be 12 or more out of 16, but Red is far from embarrassed by his picks. Red certainly did not see Croatia, Switzerland or Sweden as the powerhouses that they have proved to be in Group Play. Picking Peru over Denmark was probably Red’s biggest blunder followed by picking a shaky Egypt side over the team playing on home soil. Germany heading home probably surprised all but a very few prognosticators, but that is what happens when you score one goal – one goal!
Red will be watching a lot of soccer over the next few weeks with the Copa America Centario and the European Championship overlapping. Here are Red’s picks for the CAC starting tonight:
Group A – 1st Columbia; 2d USA
Group B – 1st Brazil; 2d Ecuador
Group C – 1st Mexico; 2d Uruguay
Group D – 1st Argentina, 2d Chile
Red doesn’t think that any of the CONCACAF teams other than the US and Mexico stand a chance to make it out of group play with the possible exception of Jamaica. The Reggae Boys got a tough draw with Uruguay and Mexico in Group C. They clearly could make it out of a weak group like B. And perhaps Haiti will surprise and knock off Ecuador for the second spot in Group B. Costa Rica might have had a chance but with ace goalkeeper Navas out it is a tough road. The “match” of group play comes early with the Argentina-Chile pairing on June 6 in Santa Clara. The match between the last two teams left standing in the tournament last year will be must see TV for all soccer fans.
Columbia 3 Ecuador 0
Argentina 1 Uruguay 0
USA 2 Brazil 2 (USA advances on PKs)
Mexico 2 Chile 1
A bit of a stretch to think that the US can beat Brazil but Brazil is playing with Neymar, Jr. (who decided to play in the Olympics) and this is not an outstanding Brazilian squad. Argentina will be at full strength and has numerous weapons but is weak on the back line. Columbia breezes by virtue of a relatively lucky draw. And Mexico is fielding perhaps their strongest team ever with Javier Hernandez in good form joined by Peralta up front and a strong back line anchored by Layun and Marquez.
Argentina 3 USA 1
Mexico 2 Columbia 1
The US gets a bad draw here and suffers from not winning its group. Argentina should be the class of the field and Messi needs to prove that he can lead his team to something better than the usual second place finish. Mexico gets a Columbian team that has an off form James Rodriguez and is missing their best defensive players from their remarkable 2014 World Cup Finals run.
Argentina 2 Mexico 1
This could go either way but Los Albicelestes finally get a big trophy to put up on the mantel.
The second biggest soccer tournament ever to be held in the U.S. kicks off tonight with the USA taking on Columbia in Santa Clara, CA. The Copa America Centario is a celebration of 100 years of South American futbol and will be played outside of S. America for the first time ever. The tournament typically features all ten COMEBOL national teams from South America and two invitees to make up a 12 team field. But in honor of 100 years of competition, this year’s edition includes all of the S. America squads and national teams from the U.S. (host), Mexico (CONCACAF Champion), Jamaica (Caribbean Champion), Costa Rica (Central American Champion) and Haiti and Panama who won entry in qualifying rounds. The field includes powerhouses such as Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Chile (the defending champion). Games will be played in ten venues (including 3 games at NRG in Houston) from tonight until the final on June 23 in New Jersey.
Keep your eye on this space for Red’s predictions.
Sunday night’s group draw for the upcoming Copa America Centenario has established what matches will be played in Houston.
On June 11, Columbia and Costa Rica will face off. Columbia is a highly talented squad featuring stars James Rodriguez of Real Madrid and Juan Cuadrado of Juventus. Costa Rica is an up and coming squad having qualified for the 2014 World Cup Finals and having won the Central American championship. CR may feature the best keeper in the tournament with Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas.
On June 13, Mexico will take on Venezuela. Expect NRG Stadium to be rocking with a rabidly pro-Mexico crowd. Mexico features a strong attack with Javier Hernandez of Bayer Leverkusen (finally getting to play after riding the pine with Man U). Chicharito has now scored 21 goals while winning 3 Bundesliga player of the month awards. Giovani Dos Santos of the LA Galaxy also knows how to find the net as an attacking midfielder. And Mexico is strong in goal with Memo Ochoa. Venezuela will have a tough time on hostile ground. They do have a strong defense led by center back Oswaldo Vizcarrondo Araujo of Nantes.
Red is predicting that the semi-final match to be played in Houston on June 23 will feature Argentina and – wait for it – the United States. That match would likely shatter TV viewing records in the US for any non-World Cup Final match. Hopefully, Red will finally have a chance to see Lionel Messi in action.