The Copa America brings together some of South America’s most sought after players, providing a plethora of enthralling narratives and memorable goals.

With the tournament kick-off just hours away, we caught up with Oddschecker’s Pete Watt, who shared some key insights from this summer’s competition, including whether the absence of Neymar has hindered faith in Brazil.

InsiderSport: How high as engagement been so far on the Copa America, and do you think it will be a popular tournament amongst bettors?

Pete Watt: “Engagement has been excellent, with thousands of bettors putting their money on a plethora of different sides; in fact, every single team has been backed by multiple punters to lift the trophy.

“Even though there is now less than 48 hours between now and the opener between Brazil and Bolivia, we are expecting a significant number of late bets from those who think they’ve seen some value.”

InsiderSport: Which sides have punters favoured so far?

PW: “Rather unsurprisingly, it is Brazil who have received the lion’s share of bets, accounting for over a third of the market share at 34%. The Seleção, who will be hosting the event, go into the tournament as heavy +120 favorites, despite having not triumphed since 2007. That said, a hiatus from victory doesn’t seem to have stopped bettors from backing the men in yellow to end that barren run.

“Elsewhere, bettors have fallen in line with the bookies, which each of the next four best-backed teams – Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Chile – all backed in the order listed by the bookies. The long-odds of the Chileans (+1500) may surprise some, given the fact that they are two-time defending champions. However, the abysmal year that talisman Alexis Sanchez has suffered coupled with an ageing squad suggest that the books are on the money with that price.”

InsiderSport: How much has Neymar’s injury hampered the popularity of Brazil as a betting choice? 

PW: “Honestly, not much at all. The betting patterns have remained relatively constant since the opening of the book in October last year, and his injury hasn’t bucked this trend. As a football fan myself, it seems to be that Neymar’s reputation as ‘the next big thing’ and a golden boy of Brazilian football has waned somewhat in recent years; this could be to do with the fans opinions behind the true intentions of his move to PSG, or the fact that his behaviour both on and off the field is increasingly leaving more and more to be desired. Whatever it is, the bettors has demonstrated that they don’t think his presence is crucial to Brazil’s chances of success.”

The tournament begins tonight, with Tite’s hosts taking on Bolivia in Sao Paulo, arguably the tie of the group stage takes place tomorrow evening, when Lionel Messi’s Argentina take on England’s World Cup foes, Colombia.

Both Japan and Qatar will also compete in the 46th edition of the tournament, having been invited by CONMEBOL.

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