Uruguay vs Jamaica | Saturday 13 June | Estadio Regional de Antofagasta | 21:00
Group B will get underway with champions Uruguay taking on Jamaica who were invited to partake in this year’s Copa America for the first time in their history. Uruguay look overwhelming favourites to oust their opponents, but Jamaica will be looking to prove themselves in this year’s South American showpiece.
To Win (90mins)
Uruguay were outstanding last time out as they annihilated Guatemala 5-1 with Edinson Cavani scoring a brace. A Suarez-less Uruguay, and in the midst of a slow and painful generational change, Uruguay will have to appeal to their fighting spirit if they want to advance far in this tournament. Fifteen-time Copa America winners and current holders Uruguay will have to battle hard to retain the trophy. La Celeste will of course be without talisman Suarez as his international ban still applies. Uruguay will also be without Juventus’ Martin Caceres and Gaston Ramirez, both are injured and their experience will no doubt be missed. However, the team still boasts players from some of Europe’s elite clubs, combined with some up-and-coming talents. Known as El Maestro, Oscar Tabarez managed Uruguay from 1988-90 before returning in 2006 to take to the helm once again. The former defender has done well with the squad he has inherited, steadying up the defence to allow his creative players to go forward in confidence. Uruguay have only lost one of their last six games following the 2014 World Cup. Most notably, they defeated Chile 2-1 away in November. The likely absence of Luis Suarez opens it up for Cavani to become the main man during this year’s Copa America, and the man who has so far been in the shadow of Suarez and Diego Forlan, will look to relish the opportunity. He has pace, strength and a wonderful technical ability and if he can start with a certain degree of confidence he should be able to lead the line effectively in what is a tough Group B.
Jamaica enters the Copa America as one of the two guest teams. They have evolved considerably in recent years; many of their players are currently in the MLS and in European leagues. They are physically very strong but one downfall is that they lack valuable experience in the squad. They, like Mexico, also have the Gold Cup to contend with but unlike Mexico, Jamaica are taking their best players to Chile. Manager Winfried Schafer has plenty of experience across the globe but he has finally landed in a place where he can get the best out of his attacking squad, and he appears to be working wonders with Jamaica. The squad is filled with budding potential and given the style of play Schafer likes to exercise, the pace on the break is vital to any chance that the the Reggae Boyz will have in this tournament. He has masterminded five straight victories for Jamaica and with the confidence flowing throughout the team, the underdogs could well cause a few upsets during their spell in Chile. Darren Mattocks can take credit for some of his team’s fine form, as the Vancouver Whitecaps forward has netted in his last five starts for his country. He has pace, power and a determination to make every 50/50 his own, so don’t be surprised to see him getting on the scoresheet during his time in Chile. Giles Barnes, the former Derby County starlet has been impressive for Houston Dynamo this season. Barnes only made his Jamaica debut in March but managed to grab a goal. Former Reading team-mates Gareth McCleary and Jobi McAnuff are real live-wires and will be hoping to link up once more. They play expansive attacking football and although they may not have the quality of certain rivals in the tournament, they certainly don’t lack effort.
VERDICT: Uruguay 2/9
Despite Jamaica’s potential and hard work, they just don’t have the quality to match Uruguay. La Celeste have been in terrific form and should have little problem in taking all three points against the Reggae Boyz.