Alexis Sanchez may require surgery after suffering an ankle tendon injury while on international duty with Chile, Inter have confirmed.

Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda had suggested Sanchez – who is on loan at Inter from Manchester United – could be set to miss "two to three months" after suffering an ankle injury in Saturday's friendly with Colombia.

The forward had further tests upon his return to Milan, with the results of those examinations confirming Sanchez has dislocated his ankle.

"Sanchez underwent medical tests earlier this morning at the Humanitas Institute in Rozzano," read a statement from Inter. 

"Results revealed a joint dislocation in his left ankle which has caused damage to the peroneus longus tendon."

Sanchez will now travel to Barcelona for consultations with professor Ramon Cugat, who has often treated injured Manchester City players, including Benjamin Mendy and Kevin De Bruyne, to determine whether an operation will be required.

Former Arsenal star Sanchez has made four appearances for Antonio Conte's side this term, scoring one goal in Serie A, though he was sent off later in that match against Sampdoria.

Alexis Sanchez could be sidelined for "two to three" months after sustaining a potentially serious ankle injury, according to Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda.

Sanchez was substituted late in Chile's goalless friendly draw with Colombia on Saturday after suffering what the Football Federation of Chile described as a "dislocation of left ankle peroneal tendons".

The forward, who is on loan at Inter from Manchester United, will undergo further tests in Milan, with Rueda suggesting he could be out of action for the foreseeable future if surgery is required.

"If the club operates, we could be without him for two to three months," he told a media conference. "It is a pity. He had been regaining form for his club and played in the Champions League.

"Now we have to wait for these crucial hours to know what decision the club will take."

Sanchez has scored one Serie A goal since leaving United for Inter, his sole strike coming in a win away to Sampdoria, during which he was sent off.

Alexis Sanchez will leave international duty to have an assessment on a potentially serious ankle injury, the Football Federation of Chile (ANFP) has confirmed.

Sanchez was substituted late in Chile's goalless draw with Colombia in an international friendly on Saturday.

The forward, who is on loan at Inter from Manchester United, will travel back to Milan for tests on an injury that may require surgery.

Sanchez has suffered a "dislocation of left ankle peroneal tendons", according to the ANFP, and will miss Tuesday's game against Guinea.

"Tests with magnetic resonance imaging and dynamic echotomography will be carried out to make the best therapeutic decision," said an ANFP statement.

Sanchez has scored one Serie A goal since leaving United for Inter, his sole strike coming in a win away to Sampdoria, during which he was sent off.

The 30-year-old may be a doubt for an upcoming Champions League double-header against Borussia Dortmund.

Inter host the Bundesliga side on October 23 then travel to Dortmund for the reverse fixture in Group F two weeks later.

Colombia and Chile drew 0-0 in a boisterous friendly that saw heavy challenges flying between the South American rivals.

The result in Alicante mirrored the scoreline after 90 minutes of June's Copa America quarter-final, which Chile went on to win 5-4 on penalties, and it was clear neither side wanted to lose face in front of a lively crowd at Estadio Jose Rico Perez.

In the absence of James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao, Colombia started with Duvan Zapata up front alongside Luis Muriel and Roger Martinez and looked the more dangerous side throughout.

Juan Cuadrado's 40-yard spring almost produced an early goal but he fired into the legs of Claudio Bravo after 16 minutes.

Colombia dominated the first half but Chile countered dangerously, with Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez combining for a sweeping move that Barcelona man Vidal failed to finish off.

Cuadrado went down clutching his ankle after a scything challenge from Erick Pulgar in the box shortly after half-time but had his claims for a penalty dismissed by the referee.

A member of Carlos Queiroz's coaching staff was shown a red card after tempers spilled over on the Colombia bench, and four yellow cards were shown as the second half turned into a scrap.

One moment of quality from Colombia saw substitute Jefferson Lerma presented with a clear shooting chance from the edge of the box eight minutes from time, but his attempt was at a comfortable height for Bravo, who saved to ensure the scoresheet remained blank at the final whistle.

Brazil coach Tite rued not giving Vinicius Junior his international debut in Friday's friendly against Colombia, owing the decision to Neymar displaying "perfect" body language upon his return.

Real Madrid talent Vinicius has long been tipped to make the breakthrough at senior level for Brazil, having sparkled in his fledgling career with Flamengo and then last season in Spain.

Injury denied him a first cap in March after he was called up for matches against Panama and Czech Republic, while he failed to make the cut for Tite's Copa America squad.

Tite planned to let the 19-year-old feature as Brazil drew 2-2 with Carlos Queiroz's Colombia, but instead opted to keep Neymar – playing his first match for club or country in three months – on the pitch in an attempt to maximise the Paris Saint-Germain star's fitness.

"Vinicius was ready to enter," Tite told reporters. "The idea was to for him to come on, but circumstances change.

"He will have his chance. Of course, he will be used as a left winger. Playing in the national team is already complicated, the yellow shirt weighs on anyone.

"So, in the case of Vinicius, I will put him in his natural position, where he is accustomed and feels comfortable.

"The plan was not that Neymar played 90 minutes, he came from more than three months without playing, and I was about to take him off three times during the second half, but he was improving technically and physically as the minutes passed.

"I was talking with Dr. Rodrigo Lasmar and our physio during the match and we decided to leave him on the pitch.

"I don't think he expected me to play him for 90 minutes, I saw him look at the bench a couple of times, but his body language was perfect, he was not tired and there was no point in taking him out.

"The level of the game was so high and I saw the team at such a good pace that I didn't want to make any more changes."

Neymar scored Brazil's second goal, after a Luis Muriel brace had cancelled out Casemiro's headed opener.

Brazil are next in action against Peru on Wednesday.

Brazil coach Tite admitted Neymar's performance in the 2-2 draw with Colombia surprised him as he revealed he has a "relationship of truth and loyalty" with the unsettled forward.

After a move from Paris Saint-Germain to Barcelona failed to materialise in the transfer window, fit-again Neymar played for the first time in three months in Brazil's friendly at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami.

He made an impact 19 minutes into the game when his corner teed up Casemiro to give Brazil the lead and, though Colombia turned the game on its head with two goals in nine first-half minutes, Neymar side-footed an equaliser into the net after the break.

Tite said he considered substituting the 27-year-old but instead allowed him to play the full 90 minutes, having been impressed with Neymar's display.

"I said, 'I'll take him off' for the sake of physical preservation," Tite told reporters after the game.

"But I saw that his physical responses were strong, intense, and coordinated. I could see him growing.

"As the end of the game approached he produced more and more. He keeps his technique light and creates space. He was above my expectation."

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel has yet to include Neymar in any of his four matchday squads in Ligue 1 this season, but Tite gave a glowing assessment of the forward's condition.

"We talked yesterday about monitoring the performance of Neymar from 45 minutes," he said. "A player starts thinking and cannot perform [when fatigued]. But he was thinking and performing. It surprised me."

After scoring Brazil's second goal, Neymar wrapped his arms around the Brazil coach, who said the pair enjoy a strong working relationship at a time when the forward's career is in a tumultuous phase.

"It is a reaction of true loyalty," said Tite. "We have a relationship of truth and loyalty. We say what we think is right, what is wrong.

"It is a transparent relationship. I don't analyse other facts, other situations. But I can say that we have a real relationship."

Dani Alves described playing with Neymar as a joyous experience after the Brazil star scored on his long-awaited return to the pitch.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward set aside three months of injury issues and transfer speculation as he made his first appearance of the season in the Selecao's 2-2 friendly draw against Colombia in Florida on Friday.

Though relatively quiet in the first half, he delivered the corner from which Casemiro opened the scoring and later preserved his side's unbeaten streak by side-footing home in the 58th minute.

Luis Muriel scored a brace in between for Colombia, but Neymar's influential outing grabbed attention in the wake of his failed move back to Barcelona.

"It's always a joy to have Ney doing what he knows best, enjoying himself and doing his best for the national team," the experienced Alves told Globo.

"We have affection for him and when he is focused his level is very high.

"Let's let him do what he can do, which is to play football. We're here to help him."

The warmth with which Brazil's players greeted Neymar's return was not shared by Colombia, who fouled the PSG star four times.

One notable shove from Davinson Sanchez ended with the 27-year-old Neymar flying into the advertising board.

Goalscorer and Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, recipient of the game's only yellow card for a first-half tackle on striker Muriel, was unimpressed with the opposition's approach.

"Guys come to play against Brazil and want to intimidate, putting their hands on us, talking, wanting to hit us," Casemiro said.

"You have to win on the ball. They have their tactics and we have ours. When it comes to Brazil there are no friendlies.

"Teams are always strong against us, so we have to play hard.

"I took the yellow [for the challenge on Muriel] and I apologised."

Neymar scored and set up another as the Brazil star made his long-awaited return in the South American champions' 2-2 friendly draw with Colombia.

An ankle injury had sidelined Neymar since June and forced the Paris Saint-Germain forward to miss Brazil's successful Copa America campaign as he eyed a return to Barcelona.

Neymar – who was unable to engineer a Barca comeback – made his first appearance of the season for either club or country in Miami on Friday, setting up Casemiro's opener before equalising in the 58th minute.

Luis Muriel's first-half brace cancelled out Casemiro's 19th-minute goal but Neymar came to the rescue 13 minutes into the second half as Tite's men extended their unbeaten run.

While Brazil welcomed back Neymar, Colombia were without star duo James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao – who joined Turkish giants Fenerbahce prior to the transfer deadline – due to injury.

But Colombia made a lively start and were the better of the two teams as Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina came close to opening the scoring.

Neymar was relatively subdued in the first half however he provided the cross from a corner for Casemiro to head Brazil into a 19th-minute lead – the Real Madrid midfielder rising highest to beat David Ospina.

Brazil's lead was short-lived as Colombia equalised five minutes later through Muriel, who converted a penalty after being struck by Alex Sandro's high boot.

Richarlison had a good chance to restore Brazil's advantage but the Everton star's curling effort went just wide of the far post approaching the half-hour mark.

Colombia found the back of the net in the 30th minute but it was ruled out for offside, though it mattered little as Muriel struck four minutes later.

A great break from Roger Martinez saw Duvan Zapata receive the ball and play it out wide to Muriel, who fired past Brazil goalkeeper Ederson, before Ospina preserved Colombia's buffer by rushing out to thwart Richarlison.

Brazil returned to the pitch with renewed optimism and almost restored parity seven minutes into the second half but Philippe Coutinho's effort flashed just wide of the post following a terrific piece of skill to control the ball.

Coutinho was at the heart of the Selecao's 58th-minute equaliser after the Bayern Munich loanee picked out Dani Alves with a stunning pass from the half-way line as the latter squared a ball across the six-yard box for Neymar to side-foot into an empty net.

 

What does it mean? Brazil stay unbeaten

Tite's Brazil were not at their brilliant best, but they did enough to make it 17 matches without defeat. It is a streak dating back to the nation's 2018 World Cup elimination at the hands of Belgium.

Neymar fit and closing in on record

After months of speculation and fitness issues, Neymar returned to the field and he was influential in the draw. The 27-year-old scored his 61st goal in 98 international appearances – moving within one of second-placed Ronaldinho as Pele (77) continues to hold Brazil's record.

Muriel stakes his claim in Falcao's absence

Muriel had only managed three international goals for Colombia, dating back to his first in February 2013. However, the 28-year-old almost doubled that tally against Brazil. After scoring a brace in Atalanta's Serie A opener on August 27, Muriel is emerging as a key player for club and country.

What's next?

Brazil will face Peru in a rematch of the Copa America final on Tuesday, while Colombia meet Venezuela on the same day.

Real Madrid forward James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao not been included in Colombia's squad for next month's friendlies against Brazil and Venezuela.

Madrid confirmed on Monday the 28-year-old had suffered a calf injury in his right leg but did not say how long he would be out for.

James started for the Spanish giants for the first time since May 2017 on Saturday, when Zinedine Zidane's side were held to a 1-1 LaLiga draw by Real Valladolid.

Atletico Madrid and Napoli were reportedly interested in signing James during the transfer window, but a deal failed to materialise and it looks likely he will stay at the Santiago Bernabeu beyond the transfer deadline of September 2.

Falcao is yet to make an appearance for Monaco this season due to injury and in his absence Colombia have called up Duvan Zapata, Rafael Santos Borre, Luis Muriel and Roger Martinez in attack for the double header.

Chile kept their Copa America title defence alive with a penalty shoot-out win over Colombia in the quarter-finals on Friday.

In what was a largely scrappy and tight encounter, two-time defending champions Chile were held to a 0-0 draw at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.

Chile twice thought they had found a breakthrough, but strikes from Charles Aranguiz and Arturo Vidal were ruled out after VAR reviews.

But they delivered in the penalty shoot-out, Alexis Sanchez converting the winner to seal a 5-4 success after William Tesillo missed for Colombia.

Chile edged the first half and Aranguiz forced a superb save from Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina with a 12th-minute header, although the VAR would likely have ruled out the effort for offside if it had gone in.

Aranguiz thought he had given his side the lead just four minutes later.

Sanchez played in Jean Beausejour down the left and Ospina, along with Davinson Sanchez, made a mess of the cross, with Aranguiz netting from an angle.

However, the goal was ruled out after a VAR review, with replays showing Sanchez was narrowly offside down the left.

The first half lacked any real rhythm, with Guillermo Maripan heading a Beausejour cross over 10 minutes before the break and Vidal curling a Sanchez pass just wide moments later.

The battle continued after the break, with efforts from distance or set-pieces appearing the most likely avenues to a goal for both teams.

The VAR was again involved after Chile thought they had their opener through Vidal in the 71st minute.

Vidal finished clinically from inside the area, but the goal was ruled out after Sanchez's volley hit the arm of Maripan in the build-up.

That was the last of the opportunities through 90 minutes before Chile were too good in the shoot-out.

Vidal, Eduardo Vargas, Erick Pulgar and Aranguiz produced fine spot-kicks before Tesillo fired wide, Sanchez stepping up to put away the winner.

 

What does it mean? Chile edge through

Chile are still on track for a remarkable third straight Copa America title. They were the better team for longer periods against Colombia and deserved their win.

Chile continue Colombia dominance

Colombia just cannot get past Chile. For the fourth time in Copa America knockout games, Chile beat Colombia, while they are undefeated in their eight clashes at neutral venues.

Not capitalising on Sao Paulo traffic

Both teams reportedly arrived later than expected at the ground due to traffic in Sao Paulo, but Chile particularly so, leading to kick-off being delayed. Perhaps because of that, Colombia looked dangerous in the opening 20 minutes without taking advantage and Chile settled into the contest from there.

What's next?

Chile will face either Uruguay or Peru in a semi-final in Porto Alegre on Wednesday, while Colombia look ahead to friendlies with Brazil and Venezuela in September.

Colombia drew on their reserves to defeat Paraguay 1-0 and make it three wins from three in the Copa America group stage.

Carlos Queiroz's side earned all three points at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, despite the coach making 10 changes to the team that beat Qatar last time out.

Gustavo Cuellar's first-half strike, which went in off the right foot of Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez, made the difference.

Colombia had a goal disallowed in the second half as well, when substitute James Rodriguez flicked a clever pass with the outside out of his boot to Luis Diaz, who controlled and lashed a shot past Fernandez from 10 yards. After a long wait, a VAR review showed the ball had brushed Diaz's right arm and the goal was ruled out.

Paraguay, who have two points, now face a nervy wait to find out if they have done enough to progress out of Group C with one of the two best third-placed records.

Duvan Zapata's late header saw Colombia edge Qatar 1-0 to book their spot in the Copa America quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Zapata's 86th-minute goal was enough for Carlos Queiroz's men in the Group B encounter after they had struggled to consistently threaten a well-organised Qatar side.

Radamel Falcao started on the bench and James Rodriguez's impact was limited, at least until the latter set up the winner with a sublime pass.

Zapata met James' wonderful pass and headed into the far corner to move Colombia onto six points, while Qatar were left on one.

Colombia had a sixth-minute header by Yerry Mina correctly ruled out for offside against Roger Martinez.

However, they should have gone ahead in the 13th minute, only for James to steer a header wide after a great Martinez cross from the right.

Colombia controlled possession – they had 68 per cent in the first half – but struggled to penetrate Qatar's defence.

The lively Juan Cuadrado forced a comfortable save from Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb from distance, while Stefan Medina sliced an effort into the side-netting.

Colombia thought they had a penalty for a handball by Abdulaziz Hatem to begin the second half, but the decision was reversed after a VAR review.

Set-pieces continued to look like Colombia's most likely avenue to a goal as Mina headed a corner wide in the 56th minute.

Martinez squandered one of his side's best chances just after the hour-mark, cutting inside after a good pass from James but shooting low and straight at Al Sheeb.

Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina was tested twice before Al Sheeb made another fine stop to deny Martinez.

But Queiroz's men would find their goal, James' wonderfully chipped pass met by Zapata for the match-winner before the latter missed a glorious chance to complete his brace.

 

What does it mean? Colombia do enough

Colombia have now made it out of the group stage at the past four editions of the tournament. Despite that, there is plenty of room for improvement going forward.

Colombia need Falcao to fire

After a subdued performance against Argentina, Falcao was left on the bench to start the encounter against Qatar. Colombia struggled to have an impact in the attacking third before Zapata's second goal of the tournament. Falcao's last international goal not from the penalty spot came in October last year and the nation's all-time top scorer must step up.

Qatar continue to show good signs

The guests and 2022 World Cup hosts came from behind to draw with Paraguay in their opener and this time they almost denied Colombia. Qatar were well-organised and looked threatening on the break at times during the second half, almost doing enough to earn another point.

What's next?

The teams complete their group-stage campaigns on Sunday, with Colombia meeting Paraguay and Qatar taking on Argentina.

Lionel Messi said he was "feeling bitter" after Colombia heaped agony on Copa America hopefuls Argentina in Salvador.

Argentina – back-to-back runners-up in 2015 and 2016 – were upstaged 2-0 by Colombia in their Copa opener on Saturday.

After a drab first half, Argentina were stunned as Colombia substitutes Roger Martinez and Duvan Zapata condemned La Albiceleste to their first opening-game Copa defeat since 1979.

And Argentina captain Messi – who was largely subdued by Carlos Queiroz's men as he eyes his first senior title with the South American giants – lamented the result.

"We leave here feeling bitter," Messi told reporters afterwards. "In the second half we had our chances.

"It takes time to accept this defeat, but let's see what the next days will be like. We need to look at the horizon and move on.

"We didn't want to start this way, obviously, but now we have to lift our heads and keep going."

"In the first half we retreated a little and were holding on, but in the second we really opened up," said Messi, who almost broke the deadlock in the second half but directed a header just wide of the post.

"Whenever you lose it's hard for us, we usually take it badly. Now we have to think about Paraguay."

Messi continued: "We have to take the positive things of today and think about tomorrow. We have many chances."

Argentina – seeking their first major international title since 1993 – are back in action against Paraguay on Wednesday in Group B.

Colombia heaped misery on Lionel Messi and Argentina with a 2-0 victory in their Copa America opener on Saturday.

Runners-up in 2015 and 2016, Messi's Argentina were looking to banish their past demons in pursuit of a first major international title since 1993.

However, Argentina were upstaged by Colombia, who made a winning start in Group B thanks to Roger Martinez's 71st-minute stunner and Duvan Zapata's late sealer.

As Argentina pressed and probed, first-half substitute Martinez sent a thunderous strike past Franco Armani in Salvador and Zapata made sure of the win during the closing stages.

Argentina came into the tournament off a 5-1 rout of Nicaragua and with the most Copa victories in history (119) but the South American giants did not look like winning against Colombia.

Martinez – a replacement for Luis Muriel in the 14th minute – linked up with Radamel Falcao but his shot deflected just wide of the post as Colombia appeared the more likely to strike first.

Overall, it was a forgettable opening 45 minutes, which did not see a single shot on target from either team, with Messi subdued.

It was more of the same in the second half, though Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina was finally called into action after a vicious volley from Leandro Paredes approaching the hour mark.

The match did come to life moments later when Juan Cuadrado's tackle on Messi threatened to spark a melee as Argentina players rushed in to confront the Colombia winger.

That triggered Argentina, who almost took the lead after Nicolas Otamendi's powerful header forced Ospina into a low diving save, while Messi was unable to head home the rebound with the goal at his mercy.

But Colombia broke the deadlock with 19 minutes remaining – Martinez collecting the ball on the flank and drifting inside before beating Armani from distance – and fellow substitute Zapata doubled the lead four minutes from the end courtesy of an emphatic close-range finish.

What does it mean? Long road ahead for Scaloni

In the build-up to the match, head coach Lionel Scaloni joked he would retire if Argentina win the Copa America. Scaloni does not appear any closer to retirement based on Saturday's result and performance. After last year's World Cup last-16 exit and Messi's brief international absence, the South American giants have a lot of work ahead.

Martinez makes himself a hero

When Muriel went down with an injury early in the first half, Carlos Queiroz turned to Martinez. And as Falcao struggled to make an impact on proceedings, 24-year-old America forward Martinez emerged a hero with his first international goal since 2016.

Pressure builds on Messi and Co.

The weight of a nation falls on Messi's shoulders and the captain was helpless to prevent another poor result on the international stage. Still searching for his first senior title with Argentina, Messi was relatively subdued in the team's first game.

What's next?

Argentina meet Paraguay on Wednesday, while Colombia face guests and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.

Many of the world's best players will be on show in Brazil over the next few weeks for the 2019 edition of the Copa America, but there will also be some talents hoping to use the tournament as a springboard.

For every Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez and James Rodriguez there will be a less familiar name attempting to establish himself on the international stage, potentially earning a big move.

The tournament sees the traditional CONMEBOL nations take part, plus guests Qatar and Japan, the latter of whom have named a squad mostly made up of players likely to feature in next year's Olympics.

With the Copa America starting on Friday, we have spoken to the experts to identify one potential breakout star to watch for each nation.

 

GROUP A

Brazil - David Neres (Ajax)

Tom Webber (Brazilian football expert): Following a stellar season with Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, Neres has a great chance to make his mark on the international stage. The 22-year-old winger is expected to be handed a starting role following Neymar's injury-enforced withdrawal, despite only making his first start in the 7-0 demolition of Honduras on June 9. Neres scored 12 goals and supplied 11 assists in all competitions for Ajax in 2018-19 and appears primed to make a mark on the Copa America, with plenty of interested parties likely to be keeping a close eye on him.

Bolivia - Edwin Saavedra (Bolivar)

Andres Mendez Dott (Bolivian football expert): Saavedra is a direct and explosive midfielder who started his career as right-back but now plays further forward. At the age of 23, he is closing in on 200 appearances for Bolivar and had a short spell at Brazilian side Goias. Humble off the pitch, he is rather more audacious on it, as he is not afraid to shoot from distance or take on defenders. Coach Eduardo Villegas is still undecided about his starting midfield, but we can expect Saaverdra to be a part of it. There are some rumours he might be deployed on the left, but either way, if he gets the ball and some space, you can count on him testing Dani Alves or Filipe Luis against Brazil. The Copa will be very challenging for Bolivia, but Saavedra could make his mark.

Peru - Renato Tapia (Willem II, on loan from Feyenoord)

Diego Montalvan (Peruvian sports journalist): If there's one player to watch in the Peru side, it's 23-year-old Renato Tapia, coming off arguably his best season in Europe with Willem II. The tournament will also enable him to put himself in the shop window, as he is reportedly looking for a transfer away from parent club Feyenoord. A central midfielder who can also fill in defensively, for Peru Tapia generally plays the role of destroyer to Yoshimar Yotun's creator, but if given the freedom to move forward he can create and even chip in with a few 'golazos'. 'El capitan del futuro', as he is called by many in Peru, is already an undisputed starter, but if he wants to stay in Europe he will have a point to prove in Brazil.

Venezuela - Wuilker Farinez (Millonarios)

Daniel Alvarez Montes (Venezuelan sports journalist): Farinez was part of the Venezuela squad in Chile for the 2015 Copa America when he was just 17. Many criticised then-coach Noel Sanvicente for that decision, knowing Farinez was not going to play. However, Sanvicente insisted it was a great opportunity for Farinez to grow. Four years later, we can say that decision was arguably his best one while in charge of La Vinotinto. Farinez played a significant role for Venezuela's youth sides after that, making a huge impact in tournaments at several age levels. Currently playing for Millonarios in Colombia, the Copa America will be a massive opportunity for him to show the world what he is capable of. Europe could be his next stop, with Benfica front-runners to acquire him.

GROUP B

Argentina - Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis)

Peter Coates (Buenos Aires-based football writer): Finding a balance in midfield, linking defence to attack and crucially providing a partner for Lionel Messi have been issues for Argentina for several years. A new-look squad for the Copa America sees much of that responsibility fall on the shoulders of Lo Celso and coach Lionel Scaloni has already spoken highly of the 23-year-old, hoping the Real Betis playmaker and the world's best player can reproduce a relationship he has already witnessed on the training field. Something akin to an old-fashioned 'enganche' of yesteryear, Lo Celso will operate in the spaces behind the striker and allow Messi to roam off the right with his usual menace. The Rosario Central product's eye for a pass, ability to work in tight spaces and sweet left foot could make him the ideal partner for Messi and crucial to La Albiceleste's success.

 

Paraguay - Matias Rojas (Defensa y Justicia)

Roberto Rojas (Paraguayan journalist): Rojas is expected to be La Albirroja's breakout player in this Copa America. A product of the esteemed Cerro Porteno academy, the 23-year-old followed the path of various Paraguayans looking to get their first break abroad by heading to Argentina, where he was initially loaned to Lanus in 2017, before joining modest Defensa y Justicia the following year. He became a key player for Sebastian Beccacece's team, who secured an historic second-place finish in the 2018-19 Superliga. A central midfielder known for his passing and dangerous set-pieces, Rojas has already signed a contract to join Racing Club, who finished just ahead of Defensa y Justicia. Paraguay manager Eduardo Berizzo is likely to play Rojas in a 4-3-3 formation, where he will be expected to combine with Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron as the team's two-man creative hub.

Qatar - Almoez Ali (Al-Duhail)

Martin Lowe (Asian football expert): Ali went from relative obscurity to the name on everyone's lips at the Asian Cup, finishing as the highest-scoring player and breaking Ali Daei's record with nine goals from seven matches as Qatar claimed a surprise success. A languid target man with strength and the eye for a goal, he threatens from even the trickiest situations and cemented his MVP status at the Asian Cup with an outrageous bicycle kick in the final. Ali – born in Sudan – remains a contentious case amid questions over his eligibility, but he has been allowed to continue representing Qatar. He blossomed in a number of international youth teams, tending to fill his boots whenever he got the opportunity. His all-round game has improved, having been shifted out wide for his club side Al-Duhail, but he is mostly used as a static focal point with more creative types such as Akram Afif and Hassan Al-Haydos playing off him.

Colombia - Luis Diaz (Junior)

Simon Edwards (South American football writer): Diaz is a hugely exciting winger who will be tasked with bringing fresh impetus to Colombia off the bench. He was spotted by Carlos Valderrama and 'El Pibe' recommended Junior snap him up. He has become a star of Colombian league football, with offers received from River Plate and Cardiff City. Diaz plays with the fearless enthusiasm and the joy of a child, but has also complimented his unpredictable, weaving dribbles with goals and improved defensive discipline. He is now a complete attacking midfielder who tracks back and provides a threat. Diaz draws defenders but has the skill and invention to craft a solution. 'Luchito' will take risks and lose possession occasionally, but he also has the quality, pace and confidence to have a huge impact for this Colombia side.

GROUP C

Chile - Erick Pulgar (Bologna)

Adam Brandon (Chile-based South American football writer): Erick Pulgar will probably be given a chance to shine in central midfield in the Copa America after his stellar season with Bologna in Italy. The 25-year-old is good on the ball, passes well and can play a more defensive role as well. He also boasts an excellent penalty record, which could come in handy for Chile again in this Copa America, given how the 2015 and 2016 finals were won.

Japan - Takefusa Kubo (FC Tokyo)

Stuart Smith (Japan-based football writer): Japanese fans will line up to tell you 18-year-old attacker Takefusa Kubo, currently with FC Tokyo but almost certainly headed to a big European club very soon, is the Samurai Blue's player to watch. Small, fleet-footed and not afraid to try tricks, he has shown a maturity beyond his years this season in the J.League. He spent his formative years at Barcelona's famed La Masia, and his technical ability is a testament to that period. Excellent with both feet, extremely skilful and able to spot and drift into spaces that other players cannot, Kubo has the potential to develop into an outstanding player. Coach Hajime Moriyasu will try to manage expectations, but it will be difficult to keep such a talented player off the pitch for too long.

Ecuador - Jhegson Sebastian Mendez (Orlando City)

Xavier Zavala (Ecuadorian football analyst): Coach Hernan Dario Gomez will implement a defensive approach that will appeal to Mendez's greatest strengths, which are his tackling efficiency and relentless motor. The 22-year-old midfielder has shown he is capable of man marking without being rash or overly aggressive and his position with Ecuador will be similar to at Orlando City, where he plays a deep-lying role. The challenge he has is dislodging the Liga de Quito partnership of Jefferson Orejuela and Jefferson Intriago, but given the stamina the system used by 'El Bolillo' requires, rotation is to be expected. Once Mendez gets his chance, he will be in a position to prove his worth.

Uruguay - Nahitan Nandez (Boca Juniors)

Nick Dorrington (freelance South American football journalist): Nandez is an all-action midfielder who has become a regular for Uruguay over the last year or so, usually playing off the right-hand side. A boundlessly energetic little terrier of a player, he snaps away at the heels of opponents, runs up and down and back again, and gets the ball forward quickly. He is also capable of moments of genuine quality, such as the ball he played through to release Dario Benedetto for Boca Juniors' goal in their Copa Libertadores final defeat to River Plate in December. Linked with a move to Europe, the Copa America could be a useful shop window for the 23-year-old.

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