Argentina aiming to banish Copa America demons in final Chile clash
Argentina rallied into this summer’s Copa America final with a 6-1 thrashing of Paraguay, setting up a mouth-watering clash with host nation Chile, as La Albiceleste now aim to overcome their previous South American disappointments.
The Argentines, currently led by Gerardo Martino, have been truly impressive in Chile, most noticeably in their semi-final thrashing of a helpless Paraguay side, who simply couldn’t tame their genuine brilliance.
Hosts Chile will be the nation standing in the way of Lionel Messi and company lifting their 15th Copa crown, a victory which would see them go level with Uruguay as the two most successful countries in this prestigious tournament’s history (19/20 with Coral to topple Chile in 90mins).
Despite their unquestioned superiority in this year’s competition, and just one more victory away from being the joint most dominant nation in the Copa’s history, Argentina also hold the unwanted and daunting record of most final defeats.
Having emerged victorious on 14 occasions so far, including five triumphs as a host nation, the Argentines have also fallen at the final hurdle 12 times, with bitter rivals Brazil narrowly trailing with 11 final losses.
Although, from the momentum that Martino’s men have gathered on their way to another final appearance, Argentina look more than capable of overcoming Chile on their home patch, with such an incredibly gifted squad.
Barcelona’s little genius Messi banished any doubts over his commitment and form on the international stage at last summer’s World Cup in Brazil, guiding his team to an eventual final defeat to Germany, and he has continued those dazzling displays in Chile.
Playing a more creative role in his national side, Messi has been majestically pulling the strings under the guidance of his former club coach Martino, producing unstoppable performances in sky blue and white.
Being supplied by the gifted left foot of their skipper, Sergio Aguero is reaping the benefits up front, while Javier Pastore’s charging runs from midfield are being picked out precisely. Messi’s slight role tweak for his national side is showcased from the fact he became the first player to record three assists in a single Copa fixture, another achievement added to his endless list of feats.
In Aguero, Argentina have a sensational striker capable of battling past even the best defences in world football, meaning Chile have a mammoth task ahead of them, as they try and thwart the Manchester City frontman from adding to his three tournament goals (6/1 for two or more).
The semi-final romp over Paraguay was dominated by the superb showing of Angel di Maria, though, with the in-form forward’s performances sure to bring a huge sigh of relief to Manchester United fans and Old Trafford boss Louis van Gaal.
Di Maria stole the semi-final show, striking twice and assisting another, showing the kind of magic which initially warranted a £60m move to the Red Devils, and it’s form which his teammates will hope he can maintain next season (5/1 for PL title).
Argentina are on the cusp of a historic victory, as they prepare to contest their first Copa final since 2007 and aim to lift the coveted South American trophy for the first time since 1993.
Their manager Martino will feature at a second successive final, having overseen Paraguay’s path down that route in 2011, but this time around the Argentine boss possesses possibly one of the most talented ranks ever witnessed at the Copa America.