Even with the addition of North and Central American teams to this year’s Copa America tournament, the Copa America Final will come down to the same two teams as last year’s tournament. Chile and Argentina have been far and away the two best teams in the tournament, and will have a chance to prove themselves as the best national team in the Western Hemisphere with a win in a matchup between elite teams and players.
Argentina On Fire
— Ben Jata (@BenJata_) June 22, 2016
Any time Argentina takes the field they are considered the favorite to win the match, which is inevitable when their best player is the incomparable Lionel Messi. So far in this Copa America, both Messi and Argentina have lived up to their billing by annihilating the teams that have lined up in front of them en route to their third straight major tournament final, including the team they will face in the Copa America Final.
Argentina defeated Chile in the first match of each side’s Copa America campaign by a 2-1 score, with goals coming from Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega. That victory was the first of three group stage games in which Argentina scored 10 goals, conceding just the lone goal to Chile on their way to a perfect 9 points with a plus-9 goal differential.
In their two knockout stage games, Argentina has scored four goals in each match, winning 4-1 over Venezuela and 4-0 over the host United States. Messi has scored twice in the knockout stages, while striker Gonzalo Higuain has put in four goals in those two matches, firmly justifying manager Tata Martino’s decision to play Higuain instead of Sergio Aguero, who has proven himself to be one of the best strikers in the world with Manchester City.
All of the pressure will be on Argentina in this match, as they are looking for their first major tournament championship in 23 years, dating back to 1993. Former Argentina striker and star footballer Diego Maradona has even suggested that this Argentina team not return home if they fail to win this final over Chile.
Chile Destroying The Competition
Despite the loss to Argentina in their Copa America opener, Chile heads into the Copa America Final with plenty of momentum on their side after a wave of flawless performances and with last year’s trophy in hand. Since the opening game loss, Chile has outscored its opponents 15-3, including a 9-0 mark in their two knockout stage games. One of those knockout stage games came in the quarterfinal round against Mexico, where Chile delivered an historic 7-0 beating of El Tri, putting the rest of the tournament on notice that Chile are defending their title with aplomb.
The key to this game will be the defenses, as both teams have endless firepower on the offensive end. A high scoring game will be expected, but that was expected in last year’s Copa America Final, which ended up going to penalties after a low scoring 120 minutes of action. No matter what happens in this match, though, it will be exciting and a final worthy of a major tournament.
By: Jason M. Sanin