It’s been 99 years since the first Copa America has been played, 44 different editions and 7 different winners. Today the competition is more popular than any time before with 12 different teams competing for the title, two of which are guest nations. The odds for a surprise happening are pretty low but there’s a lot to expect from this tournament.
This is the seventh time that Chile hosts this tournament yet the best record they’ve managed to get has been second best. In fact, Chile were runners-up in four different editions, three of which were not on home soil. Despite having many popular players throughout history, the host nation’s last podium finish was in 1991 when they finished third.
Copa America is one of the craziest competitions around. Most of the South American stars who have braced football with their magic were spotted while playing in this competition. While South American nations battle each other out. European football clubs watch and monitor closely every single match to spot emerging talents. It’s a chance for any player to impress the world’s elite football clubs. In this year’s edition, 126 players play for European clubs, 99 for South American ones, 44 for North American ones and 4 play in Asia. Despite that, not everyone who shines leaves for Europe. The competition’s two top goal scorers, Norberto Mendez and Zizinho, both with seventeen goals scored, spent their entire career in South America. While it was possible for these players to score 17 goals each, there are occasions where players fail to find the net. Martin Palermo missed three penalty shots in a single game in 1999! Since then he was dropped from playing for his country but after a decade, he returned to play for his national team at the age of 36!
Things get weirder; Uruguay has won the competition 15 times! They won it more than both Argentina and Brazil. They even managed to get a winning streak of 38 consecutive games! Argentina on the other hand, reached the final 26 times, more than anyone else. Argentina recorded 111 wins and 422 goals also more than any other nation. They even scored 12 goals in a single game against Ecuador in 1942. During that year, Ecuador conceded a total of 31 goals, more than any nation in the history of the competition. The most team to record losses in the competition is no one other than the host nation, Chile yet it’s Ecuador who have conceded the most, 296 goals.
It’s not only goals, the competition has seen 171 red cards, none of which were handed in the first 21 years and two in Brazil’s match agaisnt Colombia last night in this year’s edition. There are many odd things that happen at Copa America like Japan’s participation as a guest nation for example. Every single edition is unique and has its special moments, let’s see what this year’s edition has something for us.