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Everything you need to know about the Copa America 2011!

With the Argentine football season coming to a rather dramatic and (if you’re a River Plate fan), stressful close, this would normally be a time for mourning amongst football fans in Argentina. An unwelcome break from  Argentina’s beautiful game. And an end to the passion, disappointment, tension and general craziness that the county’s fascinating football season brings.

But not this year. This is where the real fun starts. The 1st of July (until the 24th) will see the start of one of the biggest International football tournaments in the world, and some of the best players, descending on Argentina, for The Copa America, Argentina 2011.

If you know anything about the Argentines, you’ll know that their world, rather than revolving around ‘El Sol’, in actual fact revolves around a somewhat smaller spherical object, made of leather.. You know what we’re getting at.  So anyone lucky enough to be in Argentina this July, should get ready to witness a feast of football mania.

To help you enjoy this great sporting event, and hold your own when conversing with the locals (talking football to Argentines is a great way to practice your Spanish!), here is Expanish Spanish School Blog’s guide to the Copa America:

Tournament background

Copa America is an international football association cup that takes place every four years. If you’re European, it’s Latin America’s equivalent to the UEFA European Championship (the next of which takes place in 2012 in Poland).
Twelve teams will take part. Ten from Latin America and an additional ‘guest’ two from other FIFA confederations (traditionally Mexico and U.S.A)
All ten Latin American countries have hosted the cup during its history. Argentina has been lucky enough to host it eight times in the past, the last time being in 1987
The tournament was previously known as  Campeonato Sudamericano de Selecciones (South American Championship of National Teams)
The cup follows the traditional championship format, starting with the group stages followed by quarter finals, semi finals and the final.

Group stage

Three groups of four teams will play against each other over the course of the first two weeks of the tournament. Teams gain 3 points for a win, 1 point each for a draw and none for a loss. The ranking of each team in each group will be determined as follows:

a) Greatest number of points obtained in all group matches;

b) Goal difference in all group matches;

c) Greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.

The knockout stage

This one’s a bit more tense, where teams play each other in one-off matches, playing for survival. Loss equals instant elimination from the tournament. If a game draws, it comes down to the heart stopping penalty shoot out scenario.  The final hosts the last two remaining teams.

Names and faces


Sergio Batista – Argentina’s manager who took over from Maradona after the disappointing 2010 World Cup
Javier Mascherano – Argentina’s captain, recently won the UEFA Champion’s league with Barcelona FC
Lionel Messi – Without doubt one of the world’s greatest current players (Mascherano team-mate at Barcelona), but a point of controversy amongst fans back home in Argentina following ‘not so great’ performances for his national team
Carlos Tevez – Plays for U.K. team Manchester City, it is thought that Argentine Manager, Batista isn’t a big fan of his and only selected him due to pressure from Argentine fans
Lúcio – Brazil’s captain and one of the greatest defenders in Brazil’s history. His organizational skills and ability to make get the better of any type of striker will make him one of the driving forces behind the Brazil team
Neymar (da Silva Santos Júnior) – Brazil’s current superstar and global hot property, the 19 year old is said to be ‘ruthless’ in front of goal, finding  the corners of the net with either foot. However the potential for controversy surrounds him,  in the past two years having been the subject of more disciplinaries than most players in their entire careers.
European teammates – Brazil has the benefit of a number of league teammates, including the Inter Milan trio of Julio Cesar, Lucio and Maicon, and the Barcelona duo of Daniel Alves and Adriano

Given that Argentina hasn’t won a major tournament since the 1993 Copa America, as the hosts in 2011 and favorites to win, all eyes will be upon them.  Recent results (wins over Spain and Brazil) have shown them to be a strong team and definite contenders.

They are predicted to win all three of their first group games (against Bolivia, Colombia and Costa Rica), and go onto the knock out stages, where anything could happen, but the big money is on an Argentina v Brazil final.

Brazil closely follow Argentina as second favorites to win. Having fallen short at the 2010 World Cup,  Brazil’s manager Menezes will be looking to make amends and prove themselves ahead of their hosting of the 2014 World Cup.

Both strong team, Uruguay and Mexico are trailing a little further behind in the betting steaks, with Colombia thought by some to be a team that could surprise.

The list of underdogs for this tournament includes Bolivia, Paraguay, and Costa Rica.

Quick Facts

This year’s cup runs from the 1st July to 24th July
Brazil are current defending champions
Argentina last won the Copa America in 1993
As neighboring countries with two of the strongest teams throughout history, Argentina and Brazil are the big rivals to watch
2011 Copa America will be the 43rd in the cup’s history
Japan, who were due to take part in the 2011 tournament, withdrew on May 16th Costa Rica will take their place
This year’s tournament sponsors include, LG, Mastercard, Santander, Kia, Claro, Quilmes
The official song of the tournament is ‘Creo en America’ (I believe in America), recorded by Diego Torres
Previous Copa America Hosts


Matches will take place in 8 host cities a all over Argentina, with surprisingly few in the capital. The biggest hosting stadium, where the final will take place, is the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti (Riverplate’s stadium in the north of the city) with a capacity of 66,449. (Fixtures at the bottom of the page)

Other hosting cities:

San Juan
La Plata
Santa Fe
How to get tickets

Tickets to Copa America should be available for students to buy at Expanish Spanish School (still to be confirmed). Keep checking the Facebook page for more info.

Where to watch if you can’t get tickets

If you cant get your hands on the highly coveted tickets. Don’t worry, you will be able to enjoy the games in bars all around the city. Here are some of our suggestions for bars where you will be able to watch the Copa America in Buenos Aires

Locos x el fútbol – Azcuénaga 1896, Recoleta
This bar lives and breathes football. A selection of big screens, pizza, burgers and beer of course.

El Cuartito – Talcahuano 937, Recoleta
If you’re after a traditional Porteño lugar to watch the game, look no further than El Cuartito. The walls are adorned with historic football memorabilia and you can enjoy some of the best pizzas in town while you’re watching!

·         La Popular – Lavalle 3602, Almagro

Football + Parilla. What more could you want? Nothing? Then  La Popular in Almagro is the place for you

Gibralter – Peru  895, San Telmo
Watch the football British style. Over a pint of beer, some fish and chips and a cosy pub atmosphere

Sugar Bar – Costa Rica 4619, Palermo}
Palermo’s famous expat bar will be showing a selection of the games on their screens. Cheap food and drink, and if you’re from the U.S this is a good place to watch the U.S.A fixtures with some of your fellow countrymen

On You Tube
Can’t be bothered to leave your house, or have so much Spanish homework to do that you cant leave the Expanish 6th floor? Don’t fret. You Tube has given the Copa America it’s very own channel where you can watch all the games En Vivo (live)

Group Stages

Quarter Finals