Expanded 2020 Copa America draw pitches Aussies with Argentina and Qatar with Brazil

December 5 – The draw for the 2020 Copa America, held in the Colombian city of Cartagena, has drawn Argentina with Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and invitees Australia. In the other group reigning champions Brazil and co-hosts Colombia were paired with Peru, Equador, Venezuela and Asian champions Qatar.

Qatar are returning for the second time to the tournament after participating in last summer’s Copa America in Brazil.

Co-hosts Argentina will kick off the tournament on June 12 against Chile at River Plate’s Monumental Stadium in a rematch of the 2015 and 2016 finals. The game will also be a rerun of the ill-tempered third-place play off in Sao Paulo last July when Lionel Messi was sent off. The Ballon d’Or winner has never won silverware with his country and the 2020 Copa America will be a major chance for Messi to come good on the international stage. Argentina last won the Copa America in 1993.

Copa America debutants Australia complete Group A. Last summer Qatar and Japan were the invitees at the South American finals and the Asian champions will start in a tough Group B where Brazil and Colombia are favourites.  Defending champions Brazil will kick off their campaign on June 14 in Cali, Colombia, against Venezuela. The Brazilians convincingly won the 2019 Copa America on home soil, but still came in for plenty of criticism over their playing style. The tournament’s final will be played on July 12 at the estádio Metropolitano in Barranquilla.

The tournament has faced some of the same criticism that has engulfed Euro 2020 after a complicated draw. The Copa 2020 has been scrutinized over its format and hosting structure. Colombia and Argentina will co-host the tournament, which will lead to huge travel distances and different climate conditions.

The next iteration of the Copa America also has, to say the least, a drawn-out format. The number of games will rise from 26 to 38 and whoever reaches the last four will play eight games, one more than the maximum number of games at a World Cup and two more than at the recent Copa America. It means that just four teams will be eliminated from the two groups of six.

From 2020, the Copa America will switch to a four year cycle though such has been the flexible schedule of the tournament, that you could see it changing its cycle again.

The four year cycle brings its into line other continental tournaments. In recent times, the flood of tournaments has led to Copa America fatigue and  questions over the competitive level of Conmebol’s flagship event.

Chile won the 2015 and 2016 editions and last summer Brazil triumphed at the Maracana. The tournament failed to catch the imagination of the local public, with sky-high ticket prices proving an obstacle, particularly in early matches.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1600623083labto1600623083ofdlr1600623083owedi1600623083sni@o1600623083fni1600623083