Colombia striker Luis Muriel expects Venezuela to be a fierce opponent as Reinaldo Rueda's side look to build on their opening victory in the Copa America.

Edwin Cardona scored the only goal of the game as Colombia kicked off their Group B campaign with a 1-0 win over Ecuador.

Los Cafeteros will be expected to win by a more handsome margin when they meet Venezuela in Goiania.

Colombia have not lost to Venezuela since the 2015 Copa America and face a side still missing key players after their squad was hit by a coronavirus outbreak prior to a 3-0 opening loss to Brazil.

But Muriel was impressed by what he saw from Venezuela even in defeat, and does not anticipate Colombia having it all their own way.

"The game against Ecuador was very difficult, the pitch helped little," Muriel told a media conference. 

"It helped them a lot in the pressure they exert. Venezuela lets you play a little more. 

"Venezuela showed despite all the casualties a great game against Brazil and against us it will be a fierce and hard game. 

"I strive every day to improve, we want to continue building a great team. We are going to seek the victory that will put us in the next phase."

Though Tomas Rincon and Romulo Otero are sidelined having contracted COVID-19, midfielder Yangel Herrera appears poised to return to the fold for Venezuela.

On loan from Manchester City, Herrera should help Venezuela break up play in midfield, having won possession 145 times for Granada last season, more than any other player for the LaLiga side.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colombia - Miguel Borja

Borja supplied the assist for Cardona's winner and, if he keeps his place up front, should gain significant attention from the Venezuela defence given his goalscoring record in the Copa Libertadores this season.

He has scored six goals in eight games in this season's competition and, though his goals could not help Junior progress from the group stage, he has the firepower to help take Colombia deep into the knockout stages.

Venezuela - Cristian Casseres Jr

Arguably Venezuela's standout player in their defeat to Brazil, Casseres created two chances in the 3-0 loss and was also credited with two good crosses. The New York Red Bulls midfielder could be Venezuela's best creative outlet.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Colombia and Venezuela will meet again in a Copa America after two editions without facing each other (2016 and 2019). The record favours the Cafeteros (4W, 1L, 1D), but the Vinotinto won the last clash (1-0, in Chile 2015).

- Colombia are undefeated in six games without conceding goals in the Copa America (5W 1D). It is their third-longest unbeaten streak in the competition and the second-longest without conceding (eight, between 2001 and 2004).

- Venezuela will play their 10th Copa America match under the leadership of a European coach and will seek its first victory (2D, 7L). Jose Peseiro, Portuguese coach of the Vinotinto, is the third coach from Europe to lead Venezuela in the competition: the other two are Rafael Santana, from Spain, and Ratomir Dujkovic, from the former Yugoslavia.

- Venezuela had the fewest shots on target in the first matchday of the Copa America: in the loss against Brazil they shot at goal just once, through Luis del Pino.

Colombia exacted revenge after opening their 2021 Copa America campaign with a 1-0 win over Ecuador on Sunday.

Ecuador had remarkably routed Colombia 6-1 in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in November but there was no repeat of that result in Cuiaba.

In a move straight from the training pitch, Edwin Cardona capped a stunning set-piece move with a 42nd-minute volley – awarded after initially being ruled offside – to give Colombia the perfect start in Group B after defending champions and hosts Brazil eased past Venezuela in the curtain-raiser.

It was an uninspiring first half at Arena Pantanal, where both teams struggled to create anything in the final third of the pitch.

Ecuador did not record a shot on target in the opening half, though David Ospina was forced to get down low to the feet of Enner Valencia to thwart the former West Ham and Everton forward in the sixth minute.

Just as the half was petering out, Reinaldo Rueda's Colombia struck prior to the interval, thanks to help from VAR.

Some lovely one-touch passing following a set-piece released Cardona, who volleyed into the net, but the flag was quicky raised for offside.

However, the decision was overturned and Colombia were awarded the goal after a VAR review – Miguel Borja was found to be in an onside position when he headed the ball down to Cardona.

Colombia goalkeeper Ospina made his first real significant save of the match eight minutes into the second half, turning the ball away for a corner as Ecuador finally recorded a shot on target.

Ecuador continued to push numbers forward, but they never really troubled Colombia or Ospina.

 

What does it mean? Colombia continue Copa dominance

Colombia have now beaten Ecuador in their past eight meetings at the Copa America, keeping clean sheets in six of them and restricting Ecuador to only two goals across those matches. La Tricolor are also unbeaten in normal time in their past six games at the Copa, keeping clean sheets in each of them (W5 D1).

Borja in career first

After teeing up Cardona brilliantly, Borja has now been involved in Colombia goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his career, having also scored the equaliser against Argentina in World Cup qualifying.

Ecuador's wait goes on

Ecuador have not beaten a CONMEBOL opponent at the tournament since 2001, their 4-0 defeat of Venezuela followed by a 13-game winless run in such matches. Ecuador's only wins in the intervening period have been against CONCACAF pair Mexico and Haiti. Ecuador are also in the midst of a three-match losing streak in all competitions.

What's next?

Colombia will face Venezuela in Goiania on Thursday, while Ecuador's next fixture is also against La Vinotinto but in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

Ecuador will be keen for a repeat of their sensational World Cup qualifying win over Colombia as they look to finally beat a South American rival at the Copa America.

La Tri remarkably won 6-1 in Quito in November, the last of three consecutive victories in an encouraging start to Qatar 2022 qualifying following an opening defeat to Argentina.

Led by Gustavo Alfaro, appointed three months prior to that match, Ecuador have waited a long time for a comparable result at the Copa America.

They have not beaten a CONMEBOL opponent at the tournament since 2001, their 4-0 defeat of Venezuela followed by a 13-game winless run in such matches.

Ecuador's only wins in the intervening period were against CONCACAF pair Mexico and Haiti.

The qualifying setback was particularly shocking for Colombia given their strong record against Ecuador, who they have beaten nine times at the Copa America – including the past seven meetings in a row.

La Tri's most recent Copa victory over Colombia was a 4-3 triumph in 1964.

Alfaro said: "We know the team that we are going to face – a team that have recovered their self esteem, their form, their intensity and have become one of the best.

"As they have been in the last two World Cups, they are one of the best in South America. We are in a process of wanting to occupy that place."
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colombia – Luis Muriel

Atalanta forward Muriel scored a club goal every 80 minutes this season, the fifth-best rate of any player in Europe's top five leagues with five or more. He finished with 26 goals and 10 assists in all competitions. Muriel will now be determined to make his mark at the Copa America, too, having appeared in only 19 minutes across two previous editions. He was injured 14 minutes into the 2019 opener.

Ecuador – Angel Mena

Colombia will be well aware of the threat of Mena, who scored one and created two more as he was involved in half of Ecuador's six goals in Quito. With a knack for taking up dangerous attacking positions, Mena scored 17 goals for Leon in Liga MX in 2020-21 but could have boosted that tally further still with his chances worth 19.2 expected goals.
 

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Colombia have beaten Ecuador in their past seven meetings at the Copa America, keeping clean sheets in five of them. Ecuador scored only two goals across these matches.
– Colombia are unbeaten in normal time in their past five games at the Copa America, keeping clean sheets in each of them (W4 D1). In the previous tournament, they were eliminated without losing a game. Chile beat Colombia in a penalty shoot-out following a goalless draw.
– Colombia have made it through the group stage in 11 of the past 12 editions, although their sole title came at home in 2001.
– This is the second time Reinaldo Rueda has coached Colombia at the tournament. Previously, they finished fourth in Peru in 2004 (W3 D1 L2). Alfaro is coaching a side at the Copa America for the first time.
– The 2016 tournament was the only one of the past eight editions in which Ecuador advanced beyond the group stage.

At long last, after a 12-month delay and then so much uncertainty over the past few weeks, Copa America will start this weekend.

While the fact it is going ahead remains a bone of contention, with even Brazil players suggesting they are reluctantly playing it, Copa America is a tournament that rarely disappoints in terms of entertainment.

A bevvy of world-renowned stars such as Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi will be hoping to make the difference.

There will also be some less-familiar faces hoping to either establish themselves or introduce their names to a wider audience.

Stats Perform has identified seven players worth keeping an eye on over the next month.

Rodrigo de Paul, 27, central midfielder - Argentina

Perhaps the odd one out here given his age, but De Paul is certainly one to keep tabs on. Having just enjoyed a wonderful individual campaign with Udinese, the creative midfielder is eager on a move and will surely be keen to impress.

He had a hand in 18 Serie A goals this term (nine goals, nine assists), while his xA value (expected assists) of 10.3 was the best in the division, the 1.3 differential suggesting De Paul was occasionally let down by poor finishing.

Further to that, he also attempted (191) and completed (122) more dribbles than anyone else, so Argentina will look to him to drive them forward from midfield.

Moises Caicedo, 19, central midfielder - Ecuador

Caicedo joined Brighton and Hove Albion in January to much fanfare from South American experts, who assured Seagulls fans they were getting a future superstar.

He's yet to make a senior appearance in England, with Graham Potter patient regarding his adaptation, but the Copa America could give fans a chance to see him in action.

A well-rounded, all-action midfielder, Caicedo was the teenager with the most goals (four), shots attempted (24), chances created (19), successful passes (748) and dribbles completed (23) in Ecuador's top flight in 2020, while his passing accuracy of 90.1 per cent was the highest among players to attempt 500 or more.

Emerson Royal, 22, right-back - Brazil

An impressive two-year spell at Real Betis has persuaded Barcelona to bring Emerson back to Camp Nou after a complicated three-way transfer in 2019.

He has proven himself to be both a dependable defender and a capable attacking outlet, his 10 assists over the past two seasons bettered by only one LaLiga defender (Jesus Navas, 13), while his 853 duels over the past two years is nearly 200 more than any other defender.

This paints a picture of an all-action defender who will work tirelessly up and down the right flank, and on the evidence of the past couple of years, it shouldn't take him too long to usurp Danilo as Brazil's primary option.

Yangel Herrera, 23, central midfielder - Venezuela

A long-term future for Herrera and parent club Manchester City looks unlikely, but he enjoyed a promising season with Granada in LaLiga – that coupled with a breakout tournament in Brazil could lead to promising suitors making their feelings known.

Herrera's a hard-working midfielder who made more tackle attempts (59) than any other Granada player this term, while it was a similar story with regards to duels (509) and duels won (261). Don't expect him to create much, but he's not shy about getting stuck in.

Jaminton Campaz, 21, left-winger - Colombia

Arguably the next big hope of the Colombian national team, Campaz only received his first call-up this month for the recent World Cup qualifiers. Although he did not get on the pitch, his inclusion in the squad was well-received among fans.

Colombia great Carlos Valderrama was among them as he urged the 21-year-old to grasp the opportunity in a post on his official Twitter account.

A livewire on the left flank, Colombia may look to his explosiveness and trickery should games remain tight in the latter stages.

Julio Enciso, 17, attacking midfielder - Paraguay

The youngest player at the 2021 Copa America, Enciso has already played 24 top-flight matches back home for Libertad and was briefly the youngest player to score in the Copa Libertadores this century with his goal against Jorge Wilstermann last year when still 16.

A good dribbler and not shy to take a shot, Enciso has been used almost everywhere across the front for Libertad and could be an interesting wildcard option for Paraguay.

Carlos Palacios, 20, right-winger - Chile

Earlier this year, Palacios made the jump to Brazil when he joined Internacional on loan from Union Espanola, where he had developed into one of Chile's most-promising young players as a lively winger.

While he's yet to score for his new club, he proved in Chile that he has a penchant for a spectacular goal one or two, while his regular appearances for Internacional have exposed him to a far greater standard of football.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni says his side deserved all three points after conceding a stoppage-time equaliser to draw 2-2 away to Colombia in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

La Albiceleste had raced to a two-goal lead inside the opening eight minutes but were pegged back by Colombia with substitute Miguel Borja firing in a 94th-minute header.

The result leaves Argentina in second with 12 points from their opening six qualifiers on the road to Qatar 2022, but six points adrift of CONMEBOL leaders Brazil.

"When you think it's all done, no, it's not," Scaloni told reporters post-game. "We're leaving with one point when we deserved all three. Argentina deserved to win.

"Up until the 94th minute, what we were doing was really good and the last play gave them a point, it wasn’t deserved.

"We deserved the three points. I have to congratulate the players because they played a good match in the heat on a difficult pitch against a good opponent."

Argentina did have numerous chances to seal the win including two shots from Lionel Messi which were thwarted by Colombia keeper David Ospina, while Nicolas Gonzalez hit the post in the first half.

Colombia made three half-time substitutions while Luis Muriel was brought on at the half-hour mark to chase down the deficit, with the Atalanta forward netting a 51st minute penalty.

Argentina's Juan Foyth made an error in the lead-up to Borja's late leveller from Juan Cuadrado's cross although Scaloni refused to criticize him specifically.

"It's individual errors not defensive," he said. "The defensive play of the team was perfect up until that play. It was a specific error and nothing more.

"It's the last play and it changes the entire match. The rest of the 94 minutes and a half were perfect."

Argentina turn their attention to the Copa America which is scheduled to commence on Sunday, with Scaloni's team starting their campaign on Monday against Chile in Rio de Janeiro.

Miguel Borja scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Colombia came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw with Argentina in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.

Colombia substitute Borja produced a bullet header in the 94th minute to pinch a share of the spoils after Argentina had raced to a two-goal lead inside the opening eight minutes on Tuesday.

Goals from Cristian Romero and Leandro Paredes appeared to have Lionel Messi's Argentina cruising to victory, but Colombia pulled one back early in the second half via Luis Muriel's penalty.

Borja, who was one of three half-time substitutes for Colombia, produced the decisive late intervention, moving his side to eight points from six games in qualifying.

Argentina remain undefeated but have drawn three of their past four qualifiers, having collected 12 points from six games in total on the roar to Qatar 2022.

Atalanta defender Romero powered home a third-minute header from Rodrigo De Paul's set-piece for the visitors, who were two up early after the ball pinballed on the edge of the box, with Paredes producing a composed low finish.

It meant Argentina scored two goals before the first 10 minutes of a World Cup qualifier for the first time since 2011.

Argentina almost had a third inside half an hour when Colombia keeper David Ospina saved Lautaro Martinez's shot and Nicolas Gonzalez fired the rebound into the post.

La Albiceleste were forced into a first-half goalkeeper change after Colombia defender Yerry Mina clattered into Emiliano Martinez, who was stretchered off.

Daniel Zapata flashed a shot wide before the break for Colombia, who reduced the deficit after Nicolas Otamendi was adjudged to have elbowed Mateus Uribe, with Muriel sending substitute keeper Agustin Marchesin the wrong way from the spot.

Messi almost caught out Ospina with a curling 58th-minute free-kick, while the Barcelona superstar's crafty ball set up Martinez for a sharp chance too.

Colombia mounted pressure with Muriel shooting over after Borja's chest down, while another Messi shot forced a low Ospina save.

The hosts found an equaliser deep into injury-time when Juventus star Juan Cuadrado's right-flank cross found Borja whose header went in under Marchesin.

Brazil head coach Tite cannot guarantee the participation of the Copa America champions this month as some players oppose the showpiece tournament on home soil.

The 2021 Copa America is scheduled to take place in Brazil, starting June 13, following CONMEBOL's decision to relocate the event.

Postponed from 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Copa America had been due to be shared between Colombia and Argentina, though both countries were removed as co-hosts following respective political and COVID-19 issues.

Brazil have been awarded hosting rights in pursuit of back-to-back titles, despite being one of the country's worst hit by the COVID-19 health crisis.

However, it remains to be seen whether Tite's Brazil will compete due to their displeasure over the relocation of the Copa America.

Amid ongoing talks as Brazil prepare for Friday's World Cup qualifier against Ecuador, Tite told reporters: "We have a very clear opinion [about the Copa America], after seeing the entire chronological sequence of events, Juninho and I spoke with the president and told him our opinion.

"We asked the players to work focused solely on preparing for the game against Ecuador, they accepted this request and asked us for a conversation with the president to tell him what their opinion is, because all the players are very clear about what they want.

"They spoke directly with the president and the coaching staff, from there their position is very clear. We want to tell the fans what they think, but not now so that we can prioritize playing well and winning the game against Ecuador.

"This is our goal and at the end of these FIFA matches, we will tell everyone to clarify our thoughts. You have my commitment that at the end of these games we will tell publicly what the position is."

Brazil are in Group B for the Copa America, alongside Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela.

The Selecao are due to open their campaign against Venezuela on June 13.

Tite, whose Brazil are unbeaten and atop the World Cup qualifying standinds, added: "All this has a negative effect in the face of the game with Ecuador, but we have to have the greatness to overcome this moment and be able to play well and win the game.

"Adversities happen and this hurt us, but it is up to all of us as a team to be able to filter all that and play a great game and achieve the result that people deserve."

CONMEBOL has confirmed the 2021 Copa America will go ahead as planned, with Brazil taking over hosting duties.

This year's edition of the tournament – postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – had been due to be shared between Colombia and Argentina.

However, Colombia lost co-hosting status amid mounting political unrest in the country, while the event then needed to find a new location after a surge in coronavirus cases ruled out playing games in Argentina.

CONMEBOL met on Monday to determine the future of the competition, electing to move the tournament to Brazil, who were crowned champions on home soil in 2019.

A post from the governing body's official Twitter account read: "The CONMEBOL Copa America 2021 will be played in Brazil!

"Tournament start and end dates are confirmed. The venues and the fixture will be informed by CONMEBOL in the next few hours. The oldest national team tournament in the world will make the whole continent vibrate!"

The tournament will run from June 13 to July 10, though further details over locations and the exact schedule are to be released in the near future.

However, the decision to move the Copa to Brazil does not come without controversy.

The nation has been one of the worst hit by the COVID-19 health crisis with nearly 460,000 deaths, according to figures from the World Health Organisation.

CONMEBOL's decision also comes in the aftermath of protesters in cities across the country calling for Jair Bolsonaro's impeachment, with Brazil's president having previously played down the severity of the virus and also questioned the importance of vaccinations.

"The best soccer in the world will bring joy and passion to millions of South Americans," CONMEBOL added in a further tweet.

"CONMEBOL thanks the president Jair Bolsonaro and his team, as well as the Brazilian Football Confederation for opening the doors of that country to what is today the safest sporting event in the world.

"South America will shine in Brazil with all its stars!"

CONMEBOL has confirmed the 2021 Copa America will go ahead as planned, with Brazil taking over hosting duties.

This year's edition of the tournament – postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – had been due to be shared between Colombia and Argentina.

However, Colombia lost co-hosting status amid mounting political unrest in the country, while the event then needed to find a new location after a surge in coronavirus cases ruled out playing games in Argentina.

CONMEBOL met on Monday to determine the future of the competition, electing to move the tournament to Brazil, who were crowned champions on home soil in 2019.

A post from the governing body's official Twitter account read: "The CONMEBOL Copa America 2021 will be played in Brazil!

"Tournament start and end dates are confirmed. The venues and the fixture will be informed by CONMEBOL in the next few hours. The oldest national team tournament in the world will make the whole continent vibrate!"

The tournament will run from June 13 to July 10, though further details over locations and the exact schedule are to be released in the near future.

However, the decision to move the Copa to Brazil does not come without controversy.

The nation has been one of the worst hit by the COVID-19 health crisis with nearly 460,000 deaths, according to figures from the World Health Organisation.

CONMEBOL's decision also comes in the aftermath of protesters in cities across the country calling for Jair Bolsonaro's impeachment, with Brazil's president having previously played down the severity of the virus and also questioned the importance of vaccinations.

"The best soccer in the world will bring joy and passion to millions of South Americans," CONMEBOL added in a further tweet.

"CONMEBOL thanks the president Jair Bolsonaro and his team, as well as the Brazilian Football Confederation for opening the doors of that country to what is today the safest sporting event in the world.

"South America will shine in Brazil with all its stars!"

CONMEBOL has confirmed the 2021 Copa America will go ahead as planned, with Brazil taking over hosting duties.

This year's edition of the tournament – postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – had been due to be shared between Colombia and Argentina.

However, Colombia lost co-hosting status amid mounting political unrest in the country, while the event then needed to find a new location after a surge in coronavirus cases ruled out playing games in Argentina.

CONMEBOL met on Monday to determine the future of the competition, electing to move the tournament to Brazil, who were crowned champions on home soil in 2019.

A post from the governing body's official Twitter account read: "The CONMEBOL Copa America 2021 will be played in Brazil!

"Tournament start and end dates are confirmed. The venues and the fixture will be informed by CONMEBOL in the next few hours. The oldest national team tournament in the world will make the whole continent vibrate!"

The tournament will run from June 13 to July 10.

The Copa America has been thrown into disarray after CONMEBOL removed Argentina as hosts amid the country's coronavirus situation.

Argentina were set to stage the showpiece South American tournament, starting June 13 in Buenos Aires, following the governing body's decision to strip Colombia of co-hosting rights due to anti-government protests and COVID-19 concerns in the nation.

CONMEBOL had been identifying new locations in Argentina to replace Colombia ahead of next month's curtain-raiser between Lionel Messi's La Albiceleste and Chile at El Monumental.

Instead, Argentina will not stage the Copa America – already pushed back a year due to the coronavirus pandemic – as CONMEBOL considers new hosts.

Chile, Paraguay and the United States are reportedly the frontrunners to host the event.

"CONMEBOL informs that in view of the present circumstances it has been decided to suspend the development of the Copa America in Argentina," a statement read on Sunday.

"CONMEBOL analyses another offers from countries that showed interest in hosting the continental tournament."

Before the announcement, Argentina's interior minster Wado de Pedro had admitted it would be "very difficult" for the Copa America to be played in the country due to the COVID-19 situation.

"Today I was talking with the president about the health situation of certain jurisdictions, such as Mendoza, Cordoba, Tucuman and Santa Fe [the first two designated venues of the tournament], and due to the health diagnosis we see very difficult that the cup can be played in Argentina," De Pedro told C5N.

Colombia will be without star player James Rodriguez for their Copa America campaign, though the Everton playmaker claimed he has worked hard to be fit.

It was at an international tournament with Colombia that James rose to stardom. He won the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup, scoring six goals – including a sensational effort against Uruguay – as his country made it to the quarter-finals.

His performances in Brazil earned him a move to Real Madrid, though injuries have since plagued his spells with Los Blancos, Bayern Munich and Everton, and now his hopes of starring for Colombia once more have taken a blow.

The 29-year-old missed the end of Everton's campaign due to a persistent calf injury which has limited him to 26 appearances in all competitions this season, though James has still played more minutes (2,045) in 2020-21 than in four of the previous seven campaigns since his move to Monaco in 2013-14.

Carlo Ancelotti confirmed before Everton's defeat to Manchester City that James had returned to Colombia to link up with their squad for the World Cup 2022 qualifiers against Peru and Argentina, and the Copa America.

However, Colombia confirmed on Friday that James would be unable to take part.

"The coaching staff of the Colombia men's senior team reports that the player James Rodriguez has been called off for the games against Peru and Argentina for the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and the CONMEBOL Copa America 2021," a statement on the Colombia team's official website read.

The statement went on to reveal that James, who netted six goals and provided eight assists in 2020-21, was "not at the optimal level of competition" following medical checks.

Yet it is a decision which has surprised and disappointed James, who says he has been focusing specifically on being fit for the tournament.

In a statement released on his official social media accounts, James said: "To the media, soccer fans and the general public I want to express my thoughts and feelings regarding the decision made by the coaching staff of the Colombian National Team regarding the next qualification dates and Copa America.

"I [am in] a recovery that is in its final part, in which I have taken enough time to fully integrate myself to the practice of football and in this way not affect my participation in the next commitments of our national team.

"With surprise I receive the statement from the coaching staff, stating that they do not count on me and wishing me a full recovery. A recovery that I have already made and in which I have sacrificed a lot.

"The above fills me with deep disappointment, for what it means to me playing for my country. Not receiving the trust of the coaching staff breaks with everything and causes me enormous pain.

"For my colleagues the best energy and best wishes. I will support with passion as always."

Despite managing 26 matches – and 24 of those coming as starts – James still finished as Everton's second-highest chance creator in all competitions, crafting 54 opportunities, trailing only Gylfi Sigurdsson (60), who made 18 more appearances. On average, he created two chances per 90 minutes.

James teed up 11 big chances, which Opta classify as opportunities from which a player would be expected to score, in the Premier League, with only 10 players managing a higher total.

Colombia face Peru and Argentina on June 3 and June 8, before starting their Copa America campaign against Ecuador on June 14.

Colombia will not co-host next month's Copa America alongside Argentina amid safety concerns in the country, CONMEBOL announced.

South American nation Colombia is currently in its fourth week of violent anti-government protests and growing safety concerns, along with increased worries over the spread of coronavirus, has forced the governing body to act.

The Colombian cities of Cali, Medellin and the capital Bogota had all been due to host matches, including games in the knockout phase, while Barranquilla was originally slated to host the final.

Colombia had asked for the tournament, which is due to be played between June 13 and July 10 after it was postponed last year due to COVID-19, to be rescheduled in November or December.

But CONMEBOL rejected that request in a statement released on Thursday, with the reallocation of games that were due to be staged in Colombia set to be announced.

"For reasons related to the international competition calendar and the logistics of the tournament, it is impossible to transfer the 2021 Copa America to the month of November," the statement read.

"CONMEBOL appreciates the enthusiasm and commitment of the president of the Republic of Colombia, Ivan Duque, and his collaborators, as well as the President of the Colombian Football Federation, Ramon Jesurun, and his team.

"Certainly, in the future, new joint projects will emerge for the growth of Colombian and South American football.

"CONMEBOL guarantees the holding of the CONMEBOL Copa America 2021 and will inform in the coming days the reallocation of the games that should be played in Colombia."

Australia and Qatar, who were both due to participate in the tournament as invited guests, have already withdrawn.

Brazil are defending champions and have been drawn in Group B alongside Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay and Bolivia are in Group A.

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