Copa America power rankings: Transformed Darwin Nunez takes Uruguay top

Ryan Baldi
Copa America power rankings
Copa America power rankings

While the calamitous group-stage exit of the host nation continues to dominate Copa America discourse, the tournament in the United States ploughs on with the quarter-finals fast approaching.

Three teams enter the last eight boating a perfect record, while others – *cough* Brazil *cough* – are stumbling though the competition.

As the serious business of the knockout rounds begins, here’s how the remaining sides stack up in our latest 2024 Copa America power rankings:


8) Canada
Jesse March’s Canada side managed to navigate a tricky group to book their place in the last eight, finishing above Chile and Peru and beaten only narrowly by group winners and reigning champions Argentina.

The Canadians’ success so far has been built on resolute defence, which might surprise Leeds fans, as the Yorkshire club had one of the worst defensive records in the Premier League at the time of Marsch’s sacking in February 2023. In fact, only Argentina – whom they faced in the tournament’s opening game – have scored against Canada thus far, with shut-outs posted against Peru and Chile.

But while Canada only shipped two goals in the group stage, they scored half as many. Reported Manchester United and Chelsea target Jonathan David scored in a 1-0 win over Peru before the Canadians drew a blank against Chile. Up against an even stingier defensive rear-guard than their own when they face Venezuela in the quarter-finals, Canada need to find their shooting boots if they’re going to progress.


7) Panama
Panama produced the shock result of the tournament so far when they beat the United States 2-1 in their second group-stage fixture, first luring the host nation into crumbling under the physicality of their play – with Tim Weah sent off in the first half for lashing out at defender Roderick Miller – and then counter-punching twice to secure a come-from-behind win.

That result effectively condemned the USMNT to an early exit, leaving Gregg Berhalter’s men needing to beat Uruguay to have any hope of reaching the knockout rounds. But Panama still had to take care of their own business to ensure their route to the quarters, which they did with a 3-1 win over Bolivia.


6) Ecuador
Despite having begun the tournament with one of the most talent-rich squads in the nation’s recent history – highlighted by £115 million man Moises Caicedo, teenage sensation and future Chelsea star Kendry Paez and standout Bundesliga defensive duo Willian Pacho and Piero Hincapie – Ecuador barely scraped through to the knockout rounds.

An opening-game 2-1 defeat to Venezuela put them on the back foot before a welcome 4-1 win over Jamaica. In a win-or-go-home showdown with Mexico to close out their group campaign, Felix Sanchez’s side did just about enough, hanging on to a 0-0 draw that saw them progress on goal difference.

Better will be required if they’ve any hope of upsetting Argentina in the quarter-finals.


5) Venezuela
The surprise package of the tournament so far, Venezuela join Argentina and Uruguay as the only teams to have navigated the group phase with a 100% record. Fernando Batista’s side overcame a talent-rich Ecuador side with a 2-1 win in their first group game, before securing top spot by recording victories over Mexico and Jamaica.

At the point of the Venezuela attack, 34-year-old talisman Salomon Rondon continues to defy Father Time. The former West Brom and Everton striker has followed a stellar season in which his 21 goals helped Mexican side Pachuca win the CONCACAF Champions Cup by scoring twice already at the Copa America.

With Canada their quarter-final opponents, La Vinotinto look a strong bet to make the last four.


4) Brazil
The nine-time Copa America winners entered this year’s edition of the South American championship in indifferent form, and they’ve been unable to shake it as they’ve stumbled through the group stage. Their jogo hasn’t been especially bonito.

A 0-0 draw with Costa Rica in their opener marked an inauspicious beginning for the Selecao. They bounced back to smash Paraguay 4-1 next time out, with star man Vinicius Junior scoring twice. But with top spot and a favourable quarter-final match-up on the line against Colombia to close out Group D, they could only draw.

Already without the injured Neymar for the Copa, Brazil will now face a flying Uruguay side in the quarters without the suspended Vinicius. It’s not looking good.


3) Colombia
Led by a revitalised James Rodriguez, Colombia have looked every bit as impressive at the Copa America as their pre-tournament form suggested they would.

After qualifying top of Group D following victories over Paraguay and Costa Rica and a draw with Brazil, Los Cafeteros have extended their unbeaten record to a staggering 26 games. They haven’t lost since being narrowly edged out 1-0 by Argentina back in March 2022.

Rodriguez, who is now 32 and plays his club football in Brazil with Sao Paulo, has been one of the stars of the Copa. A decade on from the breakout World Cup campaign that earned him a big-money move to Real Madrid, he has produced his best form in years to provide three assists in the group stage.

Colombia will be expected to cruise past Panama to book a semi-final date with either Brazil or Uruguay.


2) Argentina
The reigning world and South American champions haven’t exactly blown away the competition thus far in defence of the title they won in 2021, but they’ve played with the assuredness of a side who know their quality and have the top-level experience to ratchet up the tempo over the business end of the competition.

And even while playing comfortably within themselves, Argentina topped their group with three wins from three games. Lautaro Martinez has been their star performer so far, despite not starting the first two games. The Inter Milan striker leads the race for the Golden Boot with four goals.

Much has been made of the fact Lionel Messi is yet to score at the 2024 Copa America. But the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner has been acting more as a facilitator in the United States; only Colombia’s Rodriguez (11) has created more chances than the Inter Miami superstar (10).

With Ecuador in the quarters and then a showdown with either Canada or Venezuela at the semi-final stage, it’d be considered a serious upset if Lionel Scaloni’s side fail to at least reach the final from here.


1) Uruguay
It is testament to just how impressive Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay – to give them their full name – have been that they top these power rankings ahead of Messi and co.

If a 4-0 thrashing of Mexico in their final pre-Copa friendly was a statement of intent, the Celeste have delivered at the tournament. They beat plucky Panama 3-1 and then smashed Bolivia 5-0 before taking on a desperate United States, who needed to win to have any hope of avoiding a group-stage exit on home soil. And while the USMNT blamed the referee for their downfall, Uruguay were the better side in a 1-0 win.

Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez has earned a reputation for being erratic in front of goal after an up-and-down first two seasons at Anfield. On the international stage, however, he is a man transformed under Bielsa. The 25-year-old has scored twice at the Copa, taking his recent record for Uruguay to 10 goals in as many games since the enigmatic former Leeds boss took charge last year.