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Copa America football championship marks its centennial

(AGI) Rome, June 2 - After Chile's historic penalty kick victory over Argentina ...

Copa America football championship marks its centennial
Coppa america centenario 

(AGI) Rome, June 2 - After Chile's historic penalty kick victory over Argentina last summer, the Copa America championship has returned in its 45th edition, celebrating 100 years from its first edition back in 1916. Sixteen teams (of which 10 are from the CONMEBOL South American Football Confederation and six are from the CONCACAF Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) will play four rounds. The top two teams from each group will go into the quarter finals and semifinals before the final at the MetLife Stadium on June 26. Kick-off is on June 3 in Santa Clara with the U.S. playing Colombia. All eyes are on Argentina, the championship favourite. La Seleccion (Argentina) has not won the championship since 1993 and since then has lost a World Cup final, two Confederations Cup finals and three Copa America finals. And Lionel Messi took part in half these defeats - he has accumulated a series of victories with Barcelona, but apart from the Olympic gold in 2008, none in an Argentinian uniform. It is Messi's big chance with current national manager Tata Martino, who has impressive strikers such as Higuain, Aguero and Di Maria, as well as Biglia and Banega playing midfield. There are no big names in defence, but on paper Argentina beats the competition hands down. Starting with defending champion Chile, who is in the same round. Not even Brazil, Argentina's historic rival, seems up for the challenge. Brazilian manager Carlos Dunga had to give up on Neymar so as to have him ready for the Rio Olympic Games. In addition, Douglas Costa has an injury and Kaka' pulled out at the last minute too. However, talent isn't lacking on Brazil: Coutinho could finally prove himself, Casemiro wants to get himself noticed and there are high expectations for rising star Gabriel Jesus. And Brazil's defence seems particularly strong, with Alisson, Miranda and Dani Alves. Uruguay is the dark horse in Copa America, and will have to do without injured Luis Suarez for at least the first part of the tournament. "Maestro" Oscar Tabarez's Uruguayan team will be counting on central defenders Godin and Gimenez to protect Muslera in goal. Additionally, attacker Cavani will bear much responsibility until El Pistolero's (Suarez's) return, which could change everything. Colombia, the USA and Mexico are hoping to win as the outsiders in the tourney. (AGI). .