Caniggia expecting open Copa

Former Argentina star Claudio Caniggia is expecting this year's Copa America to be more tightly contested than ever before.

Claudio Caniggia, a Copa America winner in 1991, expects the 2015 edition to be more competitive than ever.

Caniggia was part of the Argentina side that lifted the trophy 24 years ago, as they finished top of the group in the final round, sealed with a 2-1 win over Colombia.

This year's tournament is set to begin on Thursday, with hosts Chile taking on Ecuador in the opening game.

Argentina and Brazil have taken seven of the last 10 titles between them, but Uruguay are the reigning champions and Caniggia expects other nations to challenge just as strongly.

"I think Argentina has great players, great players to win a World Cup, to win a Copa America, to win any championship," he told Perform.

"But now Brazil and Argentina are not the only candidates, Colombia and Chile will be other candidates to win the Copa America.

"It's not as easy, it doesn't mean that before it was easier but Brazil and Argentina always started with some advantage, now is not like that. It’s going to be a championship...Chile has very good players, Colombia has very good players also."

Lionel Messi, fresh from another stellar campaign in which he won the treble with Barcelona, will be expected to lead the Argentina challenge once again.

"A lot is expected from Messi, really his best has been with Barcelona, but he'll be asked to do the best with Argentina," Caniggia said.

"Sometimes it is difficult, because he plays in the same team since he was 14, with concepts of the game and players that he knows very well.

"Ok, everybody asks why he doesn't play with Argentina in the same way he plays with Barcelona, but it's not so easy; it's easy to say it and it's not so easy to do it.

"Messi is a great player, I wish he gives Argentina the Copa America; he has another World Cup in a great level if he maintains well physically and he doesn't suffer any injury. I think Argentina needs a great Messi and Messi can give a lot to Argentina."