SPORTS Copa América 2024: 12 must-see group stage games

Copa América 2024: 12 must-see group stage games

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With Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and the host United States among the 16 participating teams, the 2024 Copa América will provide fans from coast to coast with some of the best soccer planet fútbol has to offer when the 25-day-long tournament kicks off next June in American cities.

Following last Thursday’s star-studded group stage draw in Miami, the site of the July 14 final, here are a dozen can’t-miss first round matches. 

Argentina vs. Canada/Trinidad and Tobago (June 20)

The defending Copa América and World Cup champion Albiceleste begin what could be Lionel Messi’s final international tournament at a packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Whoever their opponent, a decisive win by Argentina will be expected. But Canada showed at last year’s World Cup in Qatar that it can hang with elite competition when playing its best, while the Soca Warriors just beat CONCACAF’s top team, the United States, last month. Canada and T&T will contest a single elimination playoff in March — both teams’ final chance to qualify for the 16-team tournament.

Can Lionel Messi’s Argentina win Group A and repeat as Copa América Champs?

Can Lionel Messi's Argentina win Group A and repeat as Copa América Champs?

Mexico vs. Jamaica (June 22)

El Tri fans always bring it for games in the U.S. That certainly will be the case for Mexico’s Copa against the Reggae Boyz at NRG Stadium in Houston. That fan support will boost a Mexican team that is weaker than at any time in recent memory throughout the competition.

Mexico routed Jamaica in July in the semifinals of CONCACAF’s Gold Cup. But the Caribbean side is stocked with players from England’s vaunted Premier League, and finished 2023 by stunning Canada — which finished ahead of Mexico and the USMNT in regional qualifying for last year’s World Cup — in Toronto to directly qualify for the Copa.

U.S. vs. Bolivia (June 23)

The hosts open their Copa América slate at 80,000-seat “Jerry World” in Arlington, Texas, and will be favored to beat South America’s weakest team; Bolivia currently sits 85th in FIFA’s latest rankings. The U.S. has met the Bolivians twice in stateside friendlies since 2016, with the Americans winning both by a combined 7-0 scoreline.

There will still be considerable pressure on the U.S. in its curtain-raiser at the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium. Anything less than three points for coach Gregg Berhalter’s team would make its second match a must win ahead of the group finale against Uruguay.

[Related: Breaking down USA’s path to knockout stage]

Argentina vs. Chile (June 24)

Messi will definitely be motivated in this rematch of the 2016 Copa América Centenario final, which Argentina lost to Chile at the same venue — MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey a few miles west of midtown Manhattan. Messi famously missed his penalty shootout attempt in that one, then abruptly retired from international play after the game before reconsidering months later.

Chile is not as formidable an opponent as it was then, when a golden generation of talent led by Alexis Sánchez helped La Roja win back to back Copa titles in the mid-2010s. While Sánchez is still kicking around for his country at age 34, this Messi-led Albiceleste squad seems unlikely to let history repeat itself.

Mexico vs. Venezuela (June 26)

Los Angeles will be out in force at gorgeous SoFi Stadium in Inglewood to see Mexico possibly lock up a spot in the second round — or try to rebound if El Tri failed to beat the Jamaicans four days earlier in Texas.

Venezuela won’t make it easy either way. La Tricolor has surprised many with its performance in South America’s ongoing qualifying tournament for the 2026 World Cup. The Venezuelans currently sit fourth in the 10-team CONMEBOL standings, two points ahead of mighty Brazil.

U.S. vs. Panama (June 27)

In front of what could be a heavily pro-USMNT crowd in Atlanta, the 12th-ranked U.S. should be able to handle FIFA’s No. 41 team in theory. In practice, Los Canaleros have for years been a thorn in the Americans’ side, particularly in tournament play.

While the USMNT holds a 17W-2L-7T advantage all-time, Panama beat the U.S. during the last World Cup qualifying cycle. They also eliminated the hosts from two of the last five Gold Cups, including in 2023.

Gregg Berhalter’s future if USMNT stumble at Copa América | SOTU

Gregg Berhalter's future if USMNT stumble at Copa América | SOTU

Brazil vs. Paraguay (June 28)

As much as Brazil is struggling right now, the record five-time World Cup champs should have little trouble against either Costa Rica or Honduras in its first group stage match — even without injured superstar Neymar.

The Seleção’s second match, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, it when the Brazilians’ title quest will really begin against familiar continental opposition. Paraguay famously knocked Brazil out of the 2015 Copa América, but the latter is unbeaten in its last five versus the Miguel Almirón-led La Albirroja, including four wins in a row.

Argentina vs. Peru (June 29)

They don’t come much bigger than Messi & Co. on a Saturday in the GOAT’s current home city of Miami. This match, at the Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium, might be a formality for Argentina if the Albiceleste have already booked a quarterfinal spot by then.

But Peru, a team that Messi scored twice against in October in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying win in Lima, could need to get a result against the champs to advance.

Mexico vs. Ecuador (June 30)

Phoenix suburb Glendale will host El Tri‘s potentially decisive third group stage match. It ought to give the Mexicans a stern and badly-needed test.

Ecuador is off to a strong start in 2026 World Cup qualifying, having lost just one of its six games so far. With Mexico already guaranteed a berth in that event as a co-host (along with Canada and the U.S.), El Tri won’t get many chances to face competition so strong before then.

U.S. vs. Uruguay (July 1)

The USMNT must wait until its final Group C match to take on one of South America’s best. Uruguay certainly is that. La Celeste has been a revelation under new manager Marcelo Bielsa, who took over after Uruguay’s disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup. Last Month, Balsa’s team handed Argentina a 2-0 World Cup qualifying loss at the famed Bombonera Stadium in Buenos Aires — the first defeat for Messi & Co. as world champs.

Both the U.S. and Uruguay could have advanced by the time this one rolls around. But first place could well be up for grabs, and a group win for the hosts could help them avoid a potential quarterfinal encounter with Brazil.

The contest will be played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The USMNT and Darwin Núñez-headlined Uruguay played a friendly just over the state line in Kansas in June 2022 in their most recent meeting. That match ended scoreless.

[Related: Can the USMNT realistically win Group C at the 2024 Copa América?]

Brazil vs. Colombia (July 2)

The game at Levi’s Stadium in the Bay Area city of Santa Clara, California is likely to tell us a lot about Brazil’s chances of winning a 10th Copa América title later the same month.

While Colombia has a dismal record of 4W-21L-11T all-time against the Seleção, Los Cafeteros won the most recent meeting between the teams in November.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.


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