In a month from now, the 2011 Copa America will be under way. Read on, for the BetPal.com preview of South America’s feast of football, including team previews, betting advice and more!

Copa America – The Competition

The 2011 Copa America will be held in Argentina and will run between July 1st and July 25th.

This year’s competition features ten of South America’s top football teams, plus two guests invited from other continental football associations. Mexico and Japan had both been invited to take part but since the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Japanese nation, their team were forced to withdraw, with Costa Risa the team invited to replace them.

Despite the competition’s awkward 12 team format, the Copa America remains a real feast of football and is one of the most widely viewed football tournaments in the world, thanks mostly to the talents of Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina, the three most successful sides in the history of the Copa America.

Copa America – The Teams
(All information correct on July 3rd. The official squads have yet to be named.)

Group A
Argentina

The Copa America 2011 hosts and tournament favourites, Argentina are undoubtedly the strongest team in Group A. The team is bursting with ability and includes many of Barcelona’s recent Champions League winning side, such as Javier Mascherano, Gabriel Milito and Lionel Messi – voted the best player in the world for 2010. Coach Sergio Batista will be looking to ensure that the home crowds are not disappointed and Argentina look like worthy Copa America favourites.

Key Man: Lionel Messi
Current Best Odds: 2.25 (Bwin)

Colombia

The Colombians can surely only be looking to qualify from Copa America Group A as runners up behind Argentina, possessing a young squad that has failed to qualify for either of the last two FIFA World Cup competitions. They do however boast the attacking talents of Hugo Rodallega and Radamel Falcao, with Porto’s Fredy Guarin pulling the strings behind them. If these three are firing on all cylinders, then Colombia could well make an impact at the 2011 Copa America.

Key Man: Hugo Rodallega
Current Best Odds: 51.00 (Bet365)

Costa Rica

Costa Rica almost weren’t involved with the 2011 Copa America tournament, having been invited at the last minute due to Japan’s late withdrawal from the competition. They arrive at the event as huge underdogs and will do well to even get out of a tricky looking Group A, but they arrive in good form, having recently drawn with hosts Argentina and having beaten Nigeria 1-0 at the end of last month. Diego Madrigal and captain Bryan Ruiz will be the men looking to fire Costa Rica into the 2011 Copa America knockout stages, while Junior Diaz provides stability at the back.

Key Man: Bryan Ruiz
Current Best Odds: 201.00 (Bet365)

Bolivia

Bolivia also arrive at the 2011 Copa America as heavy underdogs, but unlike Costa Rica, they lack any real form having lost to Panama and Latvia in recent months, along with a 1-1 draw against Guatamala. If the Bolivians are to have any impact at this year’s Copa America, they will need to call upon all the experience of captain Ronald Raldes, while strikers Ricardo Pedriel and Marcelo Martins must be in top form.

Key Man: Marcelo Martins
Current Best Odds: 201.00 (Bet365)

Group B
Brazil

Brazil have a terrific record in the Copa America, winning 8 titles in total, four of which have come from the last five tournaments. In 2007, they retained their Copa America title by beating Argentina 3-0, having also beaten them on penalties in 2004. This year, Brazil will be gunning for the hat trick, and it will be a real surprise if they fail to make the 2011 Copa America final. With the likes of Nilmar, Luis Fabiano, Elano and Kaka at their disposal, not to mention Robinho and Neymar, Brazil must surely be capable of making amends for a disappointing 2010 World Cup.

Key Man: Nilmar
Current Best Odds: 3.00 (Paddy Power)

Paraguay

Paraguay made the Quarter Finals of the 2010 World Cup, drawing with Italy and running the eventual champions Spain close, in a tight game that saw a penalty saved for either side and a disallowed goal “scored” by Paraguay. Lucas Barrios and Nelson Haedo Valdez can provide goals during the Copa America, but this is a side known more for its defensive stability. Expect Paraguay to qualify as runners up in Group B.

Key Man: Justo Villar
Current Best Odds: 17.00 (Bet365Bwin, William Hill)

Ecuador

Ecuador have failed to get out of the Copa America group stages for the last four competitions, and they failed to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The side does possess talent though; notably Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia, who will need to perform if Ecuador are to make what would be a shock progression to the knockout stages.

Key Man: Antonio Valencia
Current Best Odds: 67.00 (Bet365William Hill)

Venezuela

Venezuela are a team on the up, but they do look as though they will be making up the numbers at the 2011 Copa America. A creditable 1-1 draw with Mexico and a 2-0 victory over Guatamala are the only positives from a dismal run of form leading up the 2011 Copa America, with a 4-1 spanking by Argentina in March a likely sign of things to come in July. Captain Juan Arango is easily the most experienced player in the side, but Venezuela will be looking to Nicolas Fedor and Giancarlo Maldonado to make things happen in front of goal.

Key Man: Nicolas Fedor
Current Best Odds: 101.00 (Bet365)

Group C
Uruguay

Uruguay have a strong pedigree in the Copa America, having won the competition 14 times, more than any side apart from Argentina, who also have 14 titles. Although they have not tasted Copa America success since 1995, the Uruguayan national side is enjoying a resurgence, having managed a fourth place finish in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, thanks to such talents like Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Diego Lugano. Expect them to qualify for the knockout stages with ease, despite a tough group.

Key Man: Luis Suarez
Current Best Odds: 13.00 (Bet365Bwin)

Chile

The national team of Chile have reached the Copa America final on four separate occasions – the last of which came back in 1987 – but have been unable to lift trophy as of yet. This year, the task looks another tough one, despite an impressive 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign that saw Chile give eventual winners Spain a scare, as well as beating Switzerland and Honduras to register their first World Cup wins since 1962. They might lack a star name, but expect the side to be disciplined, organised and hard working.

Key Man: Humberto Suazo
Current Best Odds: 12.00 (Bwin)

Mexico

The Mexicans are a fixture at the Copa America, having been invited to take part every year since the idea of invitations was created in 1993, which makes this their eighth successive appearance in the Copa America. Mexico have a lot of European based talent, such as Carlos Vela of Arsenal and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who has been in terrific form for Manchester United. As talented a side as they are, Mexico will be taking part in their own federation’s football tournament – the Gold Cup – which runs throughout June, so expect a few tired legs.

Key Man: Javier Hernandez
Current Best Odds: 34.00 (Bet365, Paddy Power)

Peru

Peru have managed to qualify for the Quarter Final stage in each of the last four Copa America tournaments, but they will be up against it this year, as Group C is far and away the toughest of this year’s groups. Allegations of corruption and an international suspension in 2008 are still fresh in the mind, but new Peru coach Sergio Markarian of Uruguay will be keen to put one over his countrymen, as his side bid to progress from their Copa America group once more.

Key Man: Claudio Pizarro
Current Best Odds: 201.00 (Bet365)

Copa America – The Schedule

Group A

1st July
Argentina vs Bolivia

2nd July
Colombia vs Costa Rica

6th July
Argentina vs Colombia

7th July
Bolivia vs Costa Rica

10th July
Colombia vs Bolivia

11th July
Argentina vs Costa Rica

Group B

3rd July
Brazil vs Venezuela
Paraguay vs Ecuador

9th July
Brazil vs Paraguay
Venezuela vs Ecuador

13th July
Paraguay vs Venezuela
Brazil vs Ecuador

Group C

4th July
Uruguay vs Peru
Chile vs Mexico

8th July
Peru vs Mexico
Uruguay vs Chile

12th July
Chile vs Peru
Uruguay vs Mexico

Quarter Finals
16th July
Winner of Group A vs Best Third Placed Finisher
Runner Up of Group A vs Runner Up of Group C

17th July
Winner of Group B vs Second Best Third Placed Finisher
Winner of Group C vs Runner Up of Group B

Semi Finals
19th July
Winner of Game 1 vs Winner of Game 2

20th July
Winner of Game 3 vs Winner of Game 4

Third Place Play-Off
23rd July

Copa America 2011 Final
24th July

Make sure you stay ahead of the game by taking advantage of our new odds comparison service, to make sure you get the best odds on all of your Copa America 2011 bets!