On Sunday evening the Copa America Centenary tournament will be drawn to a close with Argentina and Chile again competing for the trophy in a repeat of the 2015 final. On that occasion Chile won on penalties to make Argentina’s long wait for a trophy continue. It is now 23 years since Argentina last won a major trophy and Sunday night presents them with a great chance to end the hoodoo and for Lionel Messi presents an opportunity to put his last remaining doubters to bed. It is claimed in some quarters Messi can never be classed as a true great until he leads Argentina to a trophy like Diego Maradona famously did in 1986. This will be the fourth final Messi has had for Argentina. He lost the Copa America final to Brazil in 2007, the Copa America to Chile last year and the 2014 World Cup to Germany so there will be increasing pressure on him to deliver.
Argentina will have a few injury concerns ahead of the game on Sunday. Ezequiel Lavezzi is ruled out of the final after suffering a broken elbow in the game against the United States. However, he won’t be the only one who could be ruled out of the final. Angel Di Maria is a serious injury doubt for the game which would be huge blow as he has been in good goalscoring form against Chile already scoring twice against them this year. Defender Marcos Rojo, Midfielder Augusto Fernandez and Winger Nicolas Gaitan are also doubts which may just heap more pressure on Messi. If anyone can handle the pressure it will be Messi, who is having the kind of tournament which demonstrates why he is one of the greats of the game. In this tournament he has scored 5 goals and made 4 assists. If Chile are to try retain the trophy their defence will need to have an outstanding performance to contain Messi, Aguero and Higuain.
Chile were not overly convincing in their group stage games, relying on a last minute injury time penalty to beat Bolivia and conceding twice to Panama in a 4-2 victory and also losing 2-1 to Argentina. However, in the knock out rounds it has been a different story. A 7-0 demolition of Mexico thanks to 4 goals from Eduardo Vargas. They then got off to a very quick start against Colombia, being 2-0 up inside 12 minutes. Chile have been on an upward trajectory over the last couple of years as there high intensity play helped them to a World Cup quarter final v Brazil in 2014 where they marginally lost on penalties and of course helped them to the Copa America last year, their first major international honour. If they are to retain their title on Sunday night they may rely on their attacking firepower of Vargas who is the top scorer with 6 goals and has an impressive record of 1 in 2 for Chile. Alongside Vargas, the flair of Sanchez and dynamism of Vidal should give Chile a great chance of retaining the trophy.
As a neutral it should be an entertaining attacking game with the high intensity style of Chile looking to play a high tempo game and with some of the names on show, it is shaping up to be an intriguing final. Can Argentina end their 23 years of hurt or will it be Chile who capitalise on their international resurgence and retain the Copa America?