Coral’s Copa America starting XI: which superstars miss out?
It’s almost time for Chile to raise the curtain on the 2015 Copa America, and Coral continue to warm-up for the occasion by presenting our combined starting XI from a squad of 23 of players that are fit and available to compete.
With so many superstars due to take the stage in the Land of Poets, it was tough to bench some of the world’s biggest names. Agree or disagree with our picks? Let us know on Twitter.
Goalkeeper: Claudio Bravo (Chile)
Barca post protector Bravo has certainly been the most consistent South American custodian this season, and has a record-breaking 754 minutes without conceding in La Liga to prove it. Having been a star in net, yet missing out on the Champions League final, the superb stopper will be aiming to take hosts Chile (10/3 with Coral to lift the Copa America crown) all the way.
Right back: Danilo (Brazil)
Samba Boys full back Danilo has got the balance between attacking and defending down the flanks down to a fine art, with his performances earning a switch from Porto to Real Madrid and edging out Dani Alves in the Brazil set-up.
Centre back: Diego Godin (Uruguay)
Atletico Madrid’s defensive paramour Godin gives order to the La Celeste rearguard and, having lifted the Copa America in 2011, can guide young-gun and Atleti teammate Jose Gimenez this time round.
Centre back: Nicolas Otamendi (Argentina)
After a fine season in Spain with Valencia, which saw the Argentine trouble some of the formidable forwards in this XI and be duly linked to Manchester United, impressive Otamendi’s power and anticipation can aid La Albiceleste’s Copa quest.
Left back: Felipe Luis (Brazil)
Left back Luis has gone from key component in a La Liga triumph with Atleti to squad player with Chelsea in the space of a season, yet Luis has done little wrong performance-wise, and continues to put in shifts for the Samba Boys.
Defensive midfield: Javier Mascherano (Argentina)
Barca stalwart Mascherano just gets better with age, and the Argentina engine room leader will surely be hungry for Copa America glory after narrowly missing out on the 2014 World Cup. The treble winner is still a force to be reckoned with and will marshal the midfield in Chile. Good luck getting past him.
Box-to-box midfield: Arturo Vidal (Chile)
Dynamic Vidal often plays a more advanced role for Chile, and will no doubt be influential at both ends of the pitch for his nation, despite a tiring season with domestic double victors and Italian giants Juventus. Back in form after injury troubles, the 28-year-old’s tenacity can turn games.
Attacking midfield: James Rodriguez (Colombia)
The Coffee Growers found a new talisman in Brazil, and Rodriguez’s World Cup Golden Boot winning antics saw him plucked from Monaco to join Real’s ranks. Can the skillful Colombian turn on the style again in Chile?
Right wing: Alexis Sanchez (Chile)
Sanchez’s swashbuckling style and strength fit the Premier League like a glove, and the FA Cup goal hero hit a sensational 25 across all competitions for Arsenal, meaning the adaptable attacker, who is able to pull defenders out wide and cut inside on his lethal right foot, more than earns his spot in this inter-changing front three.
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Sergio Aguero had a great individual season for Manchester City, but Messi is on another level and claimed the second treble of his distinguished career, contributing 58 goals and 31 assists to Barca’s cause. The Argentine magician (3/1 to be tournament top scorer) has a hole in his trophy cabinet where a Copa America crown should be, though, is this his best chance to add one?
Watch Messi’s best solo goals:
Left wing: Neymar (Brazil)
The Barca star (5/1 to be Copa America top scorer) will shoulder Brazil’s attacking burden once again, and his record of 45 goals in 62 caps is astounding for a tricky 23-year-old who has yet to reach his potential. After a much-matured campaign at club level, Neymar could be ready to lead Brazil to silverware success.
Goalkeepers: Jose de Jesus Corona (Mexico), David Ospina (Colombia)
Defenders: Jose Gimenez (Uruguay), Gary Medel (Chile), Marcos Rojo (Argentina), Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina),
Midfielders: Angel Di Maria (Argentina), Fernandinho (Brazil), Jefferson Montero (Ecuador), Juan Manuel Vargas (Peru)
Strikers: Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Carlos Bacca (Colombia)