Soccer’s summer season moves along this weekend, with plenty of men’s and women’s tournament action for fans of The Beautiful Game. The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup concludes group stage games on Thursday, with knockout round games commencing on Saturday. If the men’s game is more your thing, several continental confederations are showcasing their national teams’ best stars this weekend too. South America’s 2019 Copa America, and the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup, of North and Central America and the Caribbean, continue with their group stages. Then, Africa’s best square off with the beginning of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Only two spots remain unclaimed in the knockout round, thanks to the conclusion of most group stage games. Only seeding— and the fates of the last two third-place finishers— remains to play for. With that in mind, the United States (-400) will take on arch-rival Sweden (+1100) in Thursday’s late game. Both teams have already advanced, and will play Monday. A draw will be enough for the USWNT to win Group F, and face Spain. A loss would pit them against the second-place team in Group E— either Canada or the Netherlands. The Leeuwinnen (+165) are slight favorites in a similar matchup against Canada (+175). Team USA remains a decided favorite (7-4) to repeat as World Cup champions.
The American men (+150) face a steeper challenge in the Gold Cup, however. After crushing Guyana, 4-0, on Tuesday, the USMNT face Trinidad & Tobago on Saturday— the team that knocked them out of the 2018 World Cup, back in October, 2017. Cup favorites, Mexico (+130), had little trouble in their first two group stage games. They blew out Cuba, 7-0, then flew past Canada, 3-1, on Wednesday. El Tri will face Martinique on Sunday.
By contrast, the Copa America has produced many surprises into the first two rounds of group stage games. The heavily-favored hosts, Brazil (5-4), were booed off the pitch, after a goalless draw against Venezuela Tuesday. Argentina (7-1) are winless after a loss to Colombia (11-2) and a draw versus Paraguay (40-1). Uruguay (10-3) and Chile (12-1) are perfect through one game so far, while Colombia have all six points through two. The group stage games run through Monday.
Finally, on Friday, Mohamed Salah and hosts Egypt (9-2) take on Zimbabwe (150-1) in the Africa Cup of Nations. At 24 teams, this year’s AFCON will be the largest ever. And, for the first time, the tournament will be played during the summer. The Pharaohs were runners up to Cameroon (14-1) two years ago, and will be gunning for a record eighth title. Senegal (7-1), Nigeria (9-1), Ghana (13-2), and the Ivory Coast (8-1) are also favored to make deep tournament runs.
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