Buenos Aires Showpiece could go all the way
The final of the Copa America is very unusual to say the least. If the betting from the beginning of the tournament was to be shown now, Argentina, the hosts will be taking on arch rivals Brazil but this is not the case by any stretch of the imagination. Uruguay and Paraguay will step out on Sunday evening in Buenos Aires to battle for the crown of South Americas best.
Do not be fooled, just because these two sides have reached the final it does not exactly mean they have set the world a light in the past couple of weeks. Uruguay were impressive in South Africa last year with a clinical front three taking a lot of credit for this. The back four and Muslera in goal have been the players in form this time around with Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani struggling to find their shooting boots. Suarez has looked lively but only really became clinical with a second half double in the semi final against Peru and his form could be key if the final is going to be as tight as the rest of the tournament has been. They got through the group stages with two uninspiring 1-1 draws and a 1-0 win in the final group game against Mexico.
They came second in the group to Chile and had to face the hosts in the quarter finals. The Uruguayans took the lead before a Gonzalo Higuain header equalised for the hosts. The game ended after 120 minutes, level at 1-1 and with ten men a piece after two red cards. Carlos Tevez was the only man to have a penalty, saved by Muslera and Uruguay progressed. Then they met surprise semi-finalists Peru and dispatched of them by the previously mentioned Suarez brace. Uruguay finally looked convincing and are rightfully favourites at 10/11 going into Sunday's final.
Alvaro Periera has hit two important goals so far in this tournament, the opener against Argentina and the winner against Mexico. He is 14/1 to score first again and 11/2 anytime. Most of the first goal scorer money will be going on Forlan or Suarez who are both 11/2 and top the market. Suarez is the in form player as Forlan has failed to hit the target thus far. If you can't separate the two, William Hill's Match Winner bet is for either striker to score first at a huge 3/1 which has been enhanced from 9/4.
Paraguay are 11/4 to win in 90 minutes on Sunday but still seem to be struggling for form. They are very workman like in their approach and have got to the final without winning a single match. Three draws in the group stage against Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela amounting five goals gave Paraguay one of the best third place spots in the groups.
Brazil were on the agenda for Paraguay again in the quarter finals and it was another draw. Brazil were laboured and struggled at times and it as another quarter final that went to penalties. Brazil missed four penalties with Paraguay hitting two spot kicks and that was enough to send the Samba boys home.
Another 0-0 draw followed in the semi finals against another surprise package, Venezuela. Paraguay were lucky again as Venezuela hit the wood work three times. 120 minutes had again passed for Paraguay without a winner but they came to the fore when the time was right and won the shoot out 5-3.
Onto Buenos Aires they go and are the outsiders but that is how they have been all tournament. They haven't conceded a goal in the last 240 minutes of play and will be looking to shut out Forlan and co. The draw is priced up at 2/1 within 90 minutes and a penalty shoot out or extra time win are priced up with Uruguay 9/1 to win on penalties and the same price in extra time where as Paraguay are 10/1 on spot kicks. An extra time win for Paraguay is priced up at 12/1. If Paraguay have their way there is unlikely to be a plethora of goals. Under 0.5 goals is 11/2 with under 1.5 goals priced at 11/8.
Even though it is not the Argentina, Brazil glamour final that most people predicted, the showpiece of the 2011 Copa America will prove to be a very intriguing match and it would be no surprise to see it go to another penalty shoot out between two of the quickest improving teams on the continent.