Analysing the attacking talent on display at the Euro 2016 and the Copa America 2016
For passionate football fans, the summers can be a bit of drag. When the league season ends and the Champions league final is done and dusted, we have to wait for a considerable time before we witness top quality football again and all we have to amuse ourselves in the meantime are transfer rumours linking just about every big player to just about every big club.
But that isn’t the case in 2016, in fact, we have two absolute top drawer international tournaments right around the corner. Euro 2016 kicks off in a week, and the Copa America kicks off today. Both tournaments don’t really have a clear favourite (even though Argentina do look very strong for the Copa America) and the prospect of a host of teams battling for their prestigious continental honours is a tantalizing prospect.
In this article, I will talk about the attacking talent on display in both the competitions and also look at how a very significant number of the best forwards in the world now hail from South America. So, the Euros might have the glamour but the Copa America in 2016 will be home to some of the best center forwards in world football and will certainly be worth following too.
Attacking talent at the Copa America
We have to begin with Argentina don’t we? First, think of Paulo Dybala, Luciano Vietto and Mauro Icardi, who aren’t even in the squad. Dybala and Icardi (with a combined 39 goals this season) would walk into many of the squads in world football but such is the attacking talent in Argentina that leaving them out isn’t the travesty it would otherwise seem.
Lionel Messi will be determined to make this tournament count after the World cup and Copa America 2015 final heartbreaks. Gonzalo Higuain just shattered a 66-year-old Serie A record on his way to 36 goals in 35 games in Serie A and is in the form of his life and easily amongst the best center forwards in the world.
Sergio Aguero has had a fantastic few years with Manchester City. He racked up 24 league goals this time round in what was a disappointing season for City but in which he did his own reputation no harm. Ezequiel Lavezzi isn’t the player he once was, but still offers guile and creativity.
Colombia have Carlos Bacca, a player with 18 league goals who’s more than protected his reputation of being a fantastic penalty box striker despite Milan’s disastrous season and even though Jackson Martinez has been left out of the squad, the fact that he hasn’t been at his best in recent times means that Colombia won’t be too concerned about his absence.
The prospect of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez lining up together for Uruguay will give most defenders in the Copa America sleepless nights. Suarez (58 goals and 19 assists in 50 games) has cemented his place as one of the best center forwards in world football and has had a record breaking season for Barcelona.
Cavani has 81 goals in 148 games since joining PSG, despite being often shunted to the wing, which says a lot about his scoring exploits.
Javier Hernandez (29 goals in 46 games), frustrated by being a super sub at United has had a career-defining season for Bayer Leverkusen. He’ll be leading a Mexico team determined to make a mark in the United States.
Alexis Sanchez (Chile) has proved his mettle in the Serie A, La Liga and the Premier League, leaving his talent and ability in no doubt. In what can be described as a mixed season for him, he has still amassed 17 goals and 9 assists.
Gabriel Barbosa is the latest young Brazilian forward who’s already catching the attention of the powerhouses of European football, the Copa will be an opportunity for him to shine.
Antonio Sanabria has had an amazing season for Sporting Gijon, on loan from Roma, and is a prodigious talent who’ll be looking to make an impression for Paraguay. Each one of his 11 goals for Gijon have been critical to save the team from relegation. Enner Valencia already showed us his ability to turn up in the big tournaments for Ecuador and Joel Campbell will be fresh and raring to go for Costa Rica.
Honourable mentions: Salomon Rondon (Venezuela), Eduardo Vargas (Chile) and Juan Iturbe (Paraguay)