This summer, most television stations will be tuned to the Euros taking place in France, however further west in the world, the Americas will also engage in fierce combat to battle it out for the Copa America.
For the time being, it seems as though Argentina are the favourites to go on and seize the victory, even with a troubled Lionel Messi struggling for fitness after a minor back injury during an exhibition match, on top of having to attend tax fraud trials in Spain.
They have arguably the deepest squad in the competition and with the mighty Javier Mascherano a defensive stalwart providing cover for the back line, Tata Martino’s side have more than enough quality to see this through.
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And yet, for every Messi there’s an entire army of eleven industrious players on the hunt to cause a major upset in the competition, and one of the vastly improved teams this year has been Ecuador.
After being eliminated in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup, the Ecuadorians have rallied their forces and emerged much stronger on the international stage.
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They currently find themselves in second place in the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, level on points with table-toppers Uruguay, with four wins and a draw in six games, and could carry their terrific form into this year’s Copa America in a bid to win it for the first time.
Even though Ecuador play as a collective unit, they can boast the presence of Premier League trio Enner Valencia (West Ham), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United) and Jefferson Montero (Swansea).
The Valencia pair have both struggled with injuries this season but should be feeling fresh for the tournament after featuring more frequently in the past few months.
Manchester United’s Player of the Year in 2012 Antonio Valencia has been converted into a right-back for his club but still remains a dangerous attacking threat at international level.
Meanwhile, Swansea's Montero spent more time on the bench as last season wore on but on his day, can be a thorn in any side.
Ecuador have the team to play direct, quick counter-attacking football. They will look to exploit the wings with speedsters Valencia and Montero looking to beat opposition full-backs with raw pace and power, and feed the prolific West Ham striker.
They might not play a pretty passing game, but Ecuador are relentless and aggressive, and fans can be assured that they have the quality to pip the South American powerhouses to the trophy.
Who do you think will win the Copa America this year? Let us know in the comments below!
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