The soccer championship of South America aka the Copa America is underway in Brazil. Brazil opened the tournament with a 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday night which set the stage for a downright crazy Saturday. In the opening game, Venezuela and Peru played to a scoreless draw. Peru was unlucky to get that result as they had two goals disallowed after video review. In the second game, tournament second favorite Argentina was shocked by Columbia losing 2-0.
The Argentina upset has thrown Group B into a state of chaos. The expectation was that Argentina would advance easily with Columbia also going through. Now it’s completely up for grabs. This game becomes extremely interesting since every Group B team now has a realistic chance of making it through to the knockout rounds. Qatar is here by virtue of their Asian championship win over Japan. Most of the attention on Qatar soccer in recent years has focused on their status as 2022 World Cup host but lost amid that controversy is the fact that the country’s team has dramatically raised their game in recent years. Were they to advance to the breakout stage from Group B it would be a huge boost for the Qatar soccer program.
On paper, Paraguay has the deeper soccer tradition of the two countries but that means little here. Paraguay failed to qualify for the World Cup last time and they’ve been in fairly miserable form ever since. They went all last year without a win and lost their first two friendlies this year as well. They gained a boost prior to the Copa America as they beat Guatemala and drew with Honduras. That might have been good for their mood but neither result was that impressive in the big picture. Qatar, on the other hand, stepped up in class in their Copa America preparation and put up a very credible effort against Brazil losing 2-0 in a game that many observers thought would be a rout.
Qatar aren’t world beaters yet but they’re definitely heading in the right direction. The Asian Championship victory was the first international trophy in the country’s history and even more impressive was their overall high level of play during the tournament. They won all seven of their matches before a solid 3-1 win over Japan in the final. To be sure, the level of competition they’ll face here is significantly higher than what they did in the Asian tournament.
Simply put, the soccer odds show that Qatar is undervalued both in terms of their chances in the tournament and in this game. We’ll take a shot on their improving side at a hefty underdog price.