Brazil, the third-most successful team in the history of Copa America, haven't won the coveted title since 2007. With the tournament reaching a milestone of 100 years this time around, the teams will be expected to put their best foot forward. The big names -- Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay -- are grouped in separate pools this time, making the knockout stages ones to watch out for.
Selecao are grouped alongside Ecuador, Haiti and Peru in Group B of the Copa America 2016, scheduled to kick off June 3. The matches of Group B begin on June 4 and the top two teams from the four groups would make it to the knockout stages of the Copa America Centenario.
For the first-time ever, 16 teams are competing in the tournament and the matches will be held across the United States. Also, for the first time in the history of the competition, the matches are going to be held outside South America.
One competition's loss has been the other competition's gain, and the other way around as well. Barcelona hotshot Lionel Messi was announced to play a part in Copa America 2016 for Argentina, giving the Rio Olympics 2016 a miss. In the same way, the Brazil Football Confederation (CBF) have rested superstar Neymar for the Copa America 2016, and included him in the Olympics.
Brazil may or may not have an edge this year. They currently have a total of eight titles, and it remains to be seen whether they can bag their ninth Copa America trophy in the milestone year event. Let us look at the four teams from Group B here:
BRAZIL: The Selecao are tipped as the favourites to lead Group B of the competition, despite the absence of Barcelona forward Neymar. Strikers Jonas and Gabriel Barbosa remained on the score sheet as Brazil, skippered by Marquinhos, got past Panama with a 2-0 margin in an international friendly match in Colorado on May 30.
Key players - The likes of Willian (Chelsea), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) and Hulk (Zenit) could provide the much-needed cutting edge in the attacking department of the side.
ECUADOR: The No. 12 ranked football nation in the world could join Brazil as the other team in the knockout stages of the Copa America 2016. Gustavo Quinteros' side may be coming in to the tournament at the back of a 0-1 defeat against the United States of America, but being grouped alongside teams like Haiti and Peru have given the two-time Copa America fourth-place winners a better edge this time around.
Key players - Antonio Valencia (Manchester United) remains one of the key names to hog limelight in the Ecuador squad. Over the years, the winger, who made a name for himself as being a great sprinter, has, however, lost the edge. At 30, he has mostly been used as a full back. Whether Quinteros can use Valencia's powers well again, remains to be seen. Enner Valencia (West Ham) could also remain one of the key forwards for Ecuador in the tournament.
PERU: Not much is expected from the two-time Copa America winners this season, as they will miss the likes of Claudio Pizarro and Juan Manuel Vargas in the Copa America Centenario. The terrific duo have, however, pledged to travel with the team to the United States and support them from the bench. The absence of the key players may not dent their hopes of putting up a real fight.
Peru come into the tournament at the back of a whopping 4-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago and a 3-1 victory against El Salvador in their international friendly games, all in a span of six days. All the seven goals, amazingly, were scored by seven different scorers over the two games -- Cristian Benavente, Edison Flores, Beto Da Silva, Christian Cueva, Raul Ruidiaz, Andy Polo and Yoshimar Yotun.
Key players - Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo), Christian Cueva (Toluca).
HAITI: The 71-ranked football team in the world have little to no chance to qualify from the group stage. If they even manage to get at least a win in the competition, that would turn out to be a milestone in itself. Haiti suffered a 1-3 defeat at the hands of Colombia in their pre-Copa America 2016 friendly game.
Key players - Johny Placide (Reims), Sony Norde (Mohun Bagan).