Easy start to Copa America
Saturday 01:45 Argentina v Boliva - 19:30 Colombia v Costa Rica - both live on William Hill TV
This weekend sees the start of the 2011 Copa America held in Argentina. The hosts and Brazil are clear favourites but the countries that impressed last summer in South Africa, Chile and Uruguay could have something to say about that.
In the early hours of Saturday morning the first game kicks off as Argentina play group rivals Bolivia at La Plata.
The first games of tournaments are usually a minefield for punters especially as Argentina are extremely short (1/14) to overcome Bolivia and on paper, there should only be one victor.
The Argentines are 3/10 on the -1 handicap and that is a bit short but if Argentina are fancied as much as their price suggests, three or four goals could be on the cards. They are 21/10 to win with Bolivia having a three goal head start.
Argentina are a more organised outfit now that the crazy Diego Maradona has left the helm. New coach, Sergio Batista has his side playing well and is set to blood youngsters like Javier Pastore on the bigger stages. This could be his tournament to shine and show he is worth the transfer fees being bandied about at present. He is 6/1 to open the scoring and 8/1 to hit two or more against the Bolivians who will have a lot of defending to do.
The big interest for Argentina will be to see if they can get the best out of the incredible Lionel Messi. After a fantastic season with Barcelona he will be looking to win, on home ground with his country. He is 3/1 to score first and 12/1 to net a hat trick.
Messi is not the only source of firepower in the Argentine attack. Gonzalo Higuain (10/3), Sergio Aguero (10/3), Carlos Tevez (7/2), Diego Milito (7/2) and Ezequiel Lavezzi (10/3) all have big chances of opening the scoring, if they start. Tevez should start but the third attacking spot is up for grabs. It is usually best to wait until the team is announced before laying out any money.
The shortest price for a Bolivian player is for Juan Carlos Arce and Marcelo Moreno, both at 12/1.
The second game of the tournament sees invitees Costa Rica play Colombia in San Salvador. Colombia will be hoping to get second spot behind Argentina in the group and are another team who are short priced at 4/11
Premier League interest comes from Hugo Rodallega who is 7/2 to strike first. But Colombia have some players that are in cracking form in their ranks. Freddy Guarin and Falcao of Porto have come off the back of an unbeaten season with the Portuguese Champions .The Europa League and Portuguese Cup were added to the league title in the trophy cabinet.
Falcao is a good bet for top goal scorer in the tournament after his breath taking season which has seen him been linked with his former boss, Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea. He is also 20/1 to hit a hat trick against the Costa Ricans.
Josue Martinez and Randall Brenes, both top the Costa Rica end of the market in the first goal scorer department at 9/1 but they may find goals hard to come by, especially against the Columbians and Argentineans. Columbia -1 on the handicap is probably the best bet in this one with Costa Rica set to struggle against the Columbians red hot strikers.
The first games of international tournaments are ones that are not necessarily must win, but more a case of must not lose. Saying that, both Argentina and Columbia have the strikers to make it a comfortable start to the summer.