Copa America 2021 final: Argentina vs. Brazil match preview

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Time: 01:00 BST on Sunday, 11 July Venue: Maracana Stadium 

Argentina faces Brazil in the Copa America final on Saturday, and Lionel Messi has a chance to win his first major event with Argentina.

During his trophy-laden career at Barcelona, Messi, 34, has won 10 La Liga crowns and four Champions Leagues.

However, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s solitary success with Argentina’s senior team came at the 2008 Olympics in China.

“We’ll strive to prevent him from attaining this goal,” stated Brazil defender Marquinhos.

The 2021 Copa America will be Messi’s tenth major tournament with Argentina, following four World Cups and six editions of the championship to select South America’s champions.

They haven’t won a major event since the Copa America in 1993, and this time, defending champions Brazil stand in their way.

Messi, who is out of contract at Barcelona, has already scored four goals in the competition.

Messi at the World Cup
Country Played Won Lost Minutes Goals
2006 3 2 0 121 1
2010 5 4 1 450 0
2014 7 5 1 693 4
2018 4 1 2 360 1
TOTALS 19 12 4 1624 6
Figures provided by Stats Perform

Brazil’s Neymar, a former Barcelona teammate of Messi’s, is also hoping for his country’s first big victory in the first Copa America final between Argentina and Brazil since 2007.

“We’re going to play a final against our lifelong rivals, the two most strong national teams in South America, and we think it’ll be a terrific encounter,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said.

Messi at Copa America
Country Played Won Lost Minutes Goals
2007 6 5 1 456 2
2011 4 1 0 390 0
2015 6 3 0 570 1
2016 5 4 0 374 5
2019 6 3 2 487 1
2021 6 4 0 540 4
TOTALS 33 20 3 2817 13
Figures provided by Stats Perform

A troubled build-up & no fans

The Copa America, which was postponed a year due to the coronavirus epidemic, was set to be the first in its 105-year history to be held in two countries: Colombia and Argentina.

However, following a wave of violent turmoil in Colombia, the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) decided in May to relocate games.

Following the rapid growth of Covid-19 cases in Argentina, it was declared that the four-week competition would no longer be held there.

A last-minute decision to move it to Brazil, which hosted the 2019 edition, was criticized by the country’s players due to an increase in coronavirus cases.

Inside the stadiums, all matches have been played without the presence of fans.

The final, which was previously planned to take place in the Colombian city of Barranquilla, will also be contested without fans at the legendary Maracana stadium, which hosted Argentina’s 1-0 World Cup final loss to Germany in 2014.

What’s happened so far?

The top four countries from each group advanced to the quarter-finals, with ten countries divided into two groups of five.

Brazil, who are ranked third in Fifa’s world rankings, kicked off the tournament with a 3-0 victory over Venezuela in Brasilia.

Argentina and Brazil tied for first place in their respective groups. Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador joined them in the last eight.

Two of the four quarter-finals were decided on penalties: Uruguay, the tournament’s most successful team, was defeated by Colombia, while 2019 runners-up Peru defeated Paraguay.

Chile, the 2016 victors, featured Blackburn Rovers forward Ben Brereton, who scored the game’s only goal in a 1-0 group win over Bolivia to enable his team advance to the quarter-finals, where they were defeated 1-0 by Brazil.

Argentina required penalties to beat Colombia in the semi-finals, while Brazil defeated Peru 1-0.

Will Argentina end 28-year wait?

Argentina, which is ranked tenth in the world by Fifa, has lost four Copa America finals since winning the competition in 1993.

They do, however, have a chance to equal Uruguay’s 15 victories.

Angel di Maria of Paris St-Germain has usually begun on the bench with new Barcelona acquisition Sergio Aguero, who was a brilliant spark when he came on in the semi-final against Colombia.

‘A final to make the world stand still’

Despite winning the 2019 edition, Brazil ranks third in terms of Copa America victories (with nine).

For their semi-final, they benched Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino and Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior, while Manchester United’s Fred has been chosen to Liverpool’s Fabinho in midfield.

“The match between Brazil and Argentina is much more than a basic football match,” Marquinhos remarked. “The world comes to a halt to watch their games because of these jerseys.”

Source: BBC

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