Copa America 2016: Key questions

WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES?

Argentina, with or without a healthy Lionel Messi, have one of the deepest teams in the field. They are also hungry as they have not won a major title since the 1993 Copa America.

Chile won the Copa last year as the hosts, but lately they have been trying to find their way after the abrupt departure of their feisty coach, Jorge Sampaoli, after a dispute with the national federation in January.

Uruguay, with a respected coach in Oscar Tabarez and talent up front (Edinson Cavani) and at the back (Diego Godin), might be a safer bet. They have won a record 15 Copa titles.

Brazil? Even Brazilians are not sure what to expect from a team who probably realise the country would rather win its first Olympic gold than the Copa.

The United States should benefit from big crowds and its Major League Soccer-based players being in mid-season form rather than worn out from the long European season.

But a better Concacaf pick might be Mexico. They are unbeaten in 18 matches so far and are 6-0 under their new coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, who has yet to see his team concede a goal.

WHERE'S NEYMAR?

Brazil left him off their roster because they would rather have him for the Rio Olympics as his club Barcelona would only release him for one of the tournaments, not both.

Luis Suarez? He injured his hamstring helping Barcelona win the King's Cup final last month. And, while he is trying to project positivity, he probably will not play until the knockout rounds, if at all.

Keylor Navas? Costa Rica's goalkeeper, who helped Real Madrid win the Champions League title last Saturday, was replaced following a lingering foot injury that did not seem to affect his club play much this season.

ARE THERE ANY STARS LEFT?

Chile still have Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez and Bayern Munich's Arturo Vidal. Argentina can supplement Messi with Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Javier Pastore. Mexico have Javier Hernandez, who is coming off a great year in Germany.

Brazil's Philippe Coutinho can do remarkable things - but only if he gets to play.

Colombia midfielder Juan Cuadrado sometimes has the look of a true star and his team-mate James Rodriguez is a proven one - as long as he can shake off two years of rust acquired on the Real bench.

IS TRAVEL THE X-FACTOR?

The United States is a big place, and while the tournament is being contested in 10 cities, there are no regional groupings to limit travel fatigue for players. That means top players who have spent the past eight months running around Europe and back and forth to the Americas for international games now face thousands of kilometres more in air travel.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2016, with the headline 'Copa America 2016: Key questions'. Print Edition | Subscribe