Copa America: Brazil, Argentina, Chile ready for draw - as are Japan and Qatar

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Hosts Brazil are one of 12 teams - including, confusingly, Japan and Qatar - who will learn their Copa America opponents in a draw on Thursday.

Chile have won the past two competitions but are not in the first pot of seeds, while Qatar will feature in their first tournament outside Asia.

The tournament takes place in five cities this summer.

When is the Copa America draw?

The draw will be held in Rio de Janeiro on 24 January, starting at 22:30 GMT.

The tournament sees 12 teams competing in three groups of four. One team from each pot goes into each group, although Japan and Qatar cannot be drawn in the same group.

Pot one: Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina

Pot two: Colombia, Chile, Peru

Pot three: Venezuela, Paraguay, Japan

Pot four: Ecuador, Bolivia, Qatar

When and where is the Copa America?

Brazil should be getting the hand of hosting major events. After the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, they are welcoming the other nations to Rio, Sao Paolo, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre and Salvador between 14 June and 7 July.

It is the fifth time Brazil have been hosts but the first since 1989 - when Romario and Bebeto guided them to glory.

This is the last Copa to be played in an odd year. Starting in 2020, the tournament will be held in the same year as equivalent tournaments such as the European Championship.

Why are Japan and Qatar in it?

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A frankly excellent question.

Since 1993 Conmebol - the South American Football Combination - have invited two teams from elsewhere in the world to play in each Copa to make up the numbers for a 12-team tournament. Before then, the 10 teams from Conmebol who automatically qualify were split into two groups of five.

Mexico and Costa Rica are the teams to have made the most guest appearances, with this summer's edition the first finals that Mexico have missed since 1993.

Originally there were meant to be 16 teams in this year's finals, with six Asian teams joining in. However, the format was trimmed back to the usual 12 with Japan and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar accepting invitations.

Japan have played in the Copa before - failing to navigate their group in 1999 - while Qatar are making their debut.

Who are the favourites?

The top two in each group, plus the two best third-placed teams, qualify for the knockout stage which begins in the quarter-finals. Then it's a straight knockout to the final on 7 July.

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Chile have won the past two tournaments but have slipped to 13 in the world rankings - below Denmark - so hosts Brazil are likely to start as favourites.

Will Lionel Messi return to lead Argentina? The Barcelona legend has not played for his country since last summer's World Cup and there is speculation that he could retire from international football - again.

Argentina have won the tournament 14 times but not since 1993, while Uruguay's 2011 win was a record 15th success.

Recent Copa winners
2016Chile
2015Chile
2011Uruguay
2007Brazil
2004Brazil

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