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Uruguay Copa America Odds: Bielsa’s charges 5/1 for record 16th title

In his 15th managerial role in his 27-year career as a coach, approaching his 69th birthday, Marcelo Bielsa has his sights set on a seventh major title win with Uruguay at the Copa America.

Becoming only the second non-Uruguayan to manage La Celeste when taking the reins in May 2023, Bielsa has made a big impact in the role – winning seven and drawing two of his first 11 matches.

This impressive start to his tenure has Uruguay supporters dreaming of a record 16th Copa America title in the United States this summer, with the two-time World Cup winners last tasting success in South America’s continental competition in 2011.

Uruguay Copa America Odds

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Bielsa Ball reignites Uruguay

Appointed off the back of a disappointing World Cup campaign for Uruguay in Qatar in 2022 – with the South Americans knocked out in the group stages – the national team was in desperate need of fresh direction.

Despite boasting a populace of a relatively modest 3.5 million, Uruguay is a uniquely passionate football nation, with two World Cup crowns and a joint-record 15 Copa America titles alongside Argentina.

Nicknamed ‘El Loco’, which translates roughly as ‘The Crazy One’, Bielsa has very much done things his own way as manager of Uruguay – calling up a total of 14 uncapped players in his first squad and even reportedly considering calling up an amateur player in the national team's May meet up.

Keen to evolve the team and usher in a younger generation of players, Uruguay stalwarts including Edinson Cavani, Fernando Muslera and Matias Vecino have all recently announced their international retirement.

Building a younger, more dynamic team, Bielsa’s Uruguay have quickly adopted his trademark style of play – maximum intensity, fluid rotations and ultra-attacking.

Sat second in South American World Cup Qualifying behind Argentina after six matches played, Uruguay have scored the most goals with 13.

Widely revered by leading figures in the game such as Pep Guardiola, ex-Athletic Bilbao and Leeds United boss Bielsa could not have made a more encouraging start to his Uruguay reign as he prepares for his first major tournament in charge.

Brazil and Argentina beware

Uruguay’s flying start to World Cup Qualifying in South America has featured history-making victories against both of Copa America’s pre-tournament favourites – reigning champions Argentina and nine-time winners Brazil.

Uruguay’s 2-0 win over Brazil in Montevideo in October was the first time they had triumphed over the Seleção in a remarkable 22 years, with Liverpool hitman Darwin Nunez and Flamengo attacking midfielder Nicolas de la Cruz on the scoresheet.

Arguably even more symbolic was Uruguay’s subsequent 2-0 win at Argentina in Buenos Aires in November, a result which marked the country’s first away win over their neighbours since 1937.

Again Nunez grabbed one of the goals, with the other courtesy of Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo.

This was the first time Argentina had lost at home since a 1-0 defeat against Paraguay in 2016, and represented just their second loss in their past 54 internationals – along with their ignominious slip up against Saudi Arabia at the 2022 World Cup.

Reflecting on his side’s defeat, Argentina captain and talisman Lionel Messi credited the work of his compatriot in the Uruguay dugout.

You can see Bielsa's hand on the way Uruguay is playing. They are an intense team and it was difficult for us to play our game.

-Lionel Messi, [ESPN, Nov 2023]

New guard come of age

Previously inspired by national icons such as Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, this current Uruguayan generation has turned to new heroes to lead the country.

In the form of Barcelona defender Araujo, Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde and Liverpool striker Nunez, Uruguay have a new-look three-pronged core capable of delivering international success.

Nunez, who has toiled for consistency at club level since landing an £85m move to Liverpool in the summer of 2022, has been a revelation under Bielsa for Uruguay – topping the scoring charts in South American World Cup Qualifying with five goals in six games.

24-year-old Nunez will head to the Copa America having notched a sensational eight goals in his last five internationals in all competitions – including a blistering hat-trick in a recent friendly against Mexico - with confidence pulsing through the veins of the former Benfica marksman.

In Araujo, La Celeste have a defender with a complete skillset, boasting both the physical prowess to dominate in aerial duels and technical quality to play out from the back.

As for Valverde, Uruguay can call upon a two-time Champions League winner to drive them forward from midfield, with the 25-year-old appearing in 37 of Real Madrid’s 38 La Liga matches last term as Los Blancos claimed the league title.

Add in the likes of Paris Saint-Germain holding midfielder Manuel Ugarte, talented attacking midfield duo De La Cruz and Facundo Pellistri, as well as a 37-year-old Suarez, and you can start to understand why Uruguay are heading into the Copa America as third favourites.

With a favourable group section alongside hosts United States, Bolivia and Panama, expect Uruguay to take some stopping at this summer’s major tournament.

Darwin Nunez Copa America Odds

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All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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