Brazil at the back, Argentina up front – The top rated Copa America XI

Brazil at the back, Argentina up front - The top rated Copa America XI

As the Copa America draws closer, with hosts Brazil taking on Bolivia on Friday night, there is a star-studded cast taking to the stage in South America.

Neymar, however, is not one of them after the Selecao poster boy picked up yet another injury shortly after linking up with the squad, forcing him to withdraw.
Nevertheless there are some huge names among our highest rated XI from the squads selected based on league performances from 2018/19.
Goalkeeper: Alisson (Brazil) – 6.79
It was a sensational first season at Anfield for Alisson, ending in Champions League glory, while the Brazilian kept 21 clean sheets in England’s top-flight – a record for any keeper in Europe’s top five leagues last season. His save success rate of 78.4 per cent was enough to rank third in that regard and a significant increase on that of Ederson (69.9 per cent), who the 26-year-old keeps out of the team at international level.
Right-back: Dani Alves (Brazil) – 7.02
Having played in a number of different positions for PSG last season, Alves should revert to his usual right-back role on home soil, captaining his country in what will surely be the 36-year-old’s last major tournament. Despite only starting 19 of 23 league appearances last season the veteran still chipped in with seven assists as well as 2.3 tackles per 90 minutes.
Centre-back: Marquinhos (Brazil) – 7.24
Though they won the Ligue 1 title at a canter once more, 2018/19 was generally seen as a disappointing one for PSG, but from an individual perspective Marquinhos was a real highlight. Whether playing at the back or protecting the defence the 25-year-old was extremely impressive, averaging 2.2 tackles per 90 an completing 91.9 per cent of his passes.
Centre-back: Guillermo Maripan (Chile) – 7.20
The towering Alaves defender would have earned a place in our LaLiga team of the season had he made enough appearances but ankle problems in the final two months of the campaign restricted the 25-year-old to 22 starts. Said injuries will be a slight concern for Chile ahead of the tournament, with the centre-back a mainstay in the side for over a year now, offering a superb aerial presence in both boxes, winning 71.9 per cent of his duels.
Left-back: Alex Sandro (Brazil) – 7.15
Vying for a starting spot with Filipe Luis this summer, last season certainly wasn’t Sandro’s best in a Juventus shirt but his impact on results was still clear to see. The full-back averaged an impressive 2.6 tackles per 90 and was dribbled past just 15 times in 31 Serie A appearances, with Juve suffering three of their four league defeats in the ten matches Sandro did not start, winning only five.
Defensive midfield: Fernandinho (Brazil) – 7.31
Another player that is likely to have to bide his time for a chance in the lineup this summer, Fernandinho often has to play second fiddle to Casemiro for Brazil. In terms of league performances last season however there was no contest between the two, with the Manchester City star playing a pivotal role in their title defence. The 34-year-old averaged 2.2 tackles per 90 minutes, completing 87.5 per cent of his passes.
Centre midfield: James Rodriguez (Colombia) – 7.24
With his two-year loan deal at Bayern Munich coming to an end and Rodriguez confirming that he will not be making the move permanent, the 27-year-old is perhaps the most high-profile player at the tournament expected to be on the move this summer. For one reason or another the Bundesliga champions couldn’t find a regular role for the South American despite scoring seven goals and registering three assists in just 1143 minutes of action.
Centre midfield: Rodrigo de Paul (Argentina) – 7.37
Udinese’s star player by a country mile last season, De Paul played in a variety of different positions for the Serie A club and that versatility should stand him in good stead this summer. The 25-year-old scored nine goals and assisted a further eight in the campaign gone by – equating to a direct hand in 43.6 per cent of his team’s total goals – while ranking second in Italy’s top-flight for both key passes (98) and successful dribbles (81).

Brazil at the back, Argentina up front - The top rated Copa America XI

Free role: Lionel Messi (Argentina) – 8.48

The star player in this team, or any for that matter, while Messi spent the entirety of the 2018/19 campaign the apparent wrong side of 31 but showed no signs of slowing down. Despite starting just 29 matches in LaLiga – making a further five substitute appearances – the Argentine scored 36 goals and registered 13 assists in Spain’s top-flight alone, averaging 5.6 shots, 3.1 key passes and 4.5 dribbles per 90.
Striker: Luis Suarez (Uruguay) – 7.57
While club mate Messi is yet to show signs of ageing, Suarez’s strike rate is slowing down despite the 32-year-old posting 21 league goals last season. The Uruguayan registered a further six assists but when combined with goals (27) it was his least productive campaign at Camp Nou. That said, for the vast majority of players those figures would represent a very successful season, and it’s one Suarez will hope to end on a high in Brazil.
Striker: Sergio Aguero (Argentina) – 7.53
After a hugely successful season at club level, with City securing the English domestic treble, Aguero will be aiming to add one last medal to his seasonal haul having reached or surpassed the 20-goal barrier for the fifth league season running. The 31-year-old ended the Premier League campaign with 21 goals and a further eight assists and will be hoping to carry that form to Brazil.

Martin laurence

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