Messi’s Argentina to exact revenge on Chile in 2016 Copa America final
Holly Thackeray | June 24, 2016
Argentina v Chile
- 2016 Copa America final
- Monday, June 27th
- Kick-off: 01:00 BST
- MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford
- Live on Premier Sports
Messi closes in on first major international silverware
As the curtain on the Copa America Centenario closes, it is once again left to South American super sides Argentina and Chile to contest the crown, in a repeat of last year’s thrilling grand finale.
La Albiceleste and La Roja have encountered each other a whopping 84 times, with the Argentines emerging triumphant in an emphatic 58 frays to Chile’s six, which makes Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino’s men odds-on 8/11 favourites to seal the deal in normal time.
They were, of course, tipped to take the title last year, though La Roja rallied on their home turf to triumph in a tense penalty shoot-out. This time though, the action takes place on neutral ground, and New Jersey soil to be precise.
Reigning champions Chile have something to cling to, but Argentina have already managed to banish memories of their agonising 2015 spot-kick loss by vanquishing their rivals twice since, once in a 2018 World Cup qualifier and the second in the group stage of this competition.
As both of those duels finished 2-1 in La Albiceleste’s favour, Tata will be hoping his team shakes their tag as big game bottlers and perennial runners-up, having also lost out at the last in the 2014 World Cup, albeit before he was boss.
Another 2-1 triumph is a sweet 7/1 to occur, with Argentina a fine 16/5 to win in 90 minutes and both teams score.
One man determined to put an end to Argentina’s major trophy drought is all-time top scorer and skipper Lionel Messi. While the Barcelona wizard has captured it all at club level, he could be forgiven for thinking he is cursed to never lift silverware for his country.
Is this his chance to avenge Argentina’s 2015 defeat and answer the last of his critics? An Olympic Gold Medal aside, Messi is yet see his international efforts pay off.
Argentina to be out in force
Able to be breached at the back, Tata’s team must focus on their attacking strengths this time to take Chile to task.
Billed as a battle between Alexis Sanchez of La Roja and Argentina’s Messi (10/3 to be on target first), there is every reason to back the latter superstar, especially on the big stage.
Coming into the tournament four Argentina goals behind all-time great Gabriel Batistuta, Messi surpassed with a spectacular haul of five so far, capped off by his sublime set-piece to help sink hosts the United States 4-0 last time out.
What a way to smash the leading Albiceleste scorer record, rewatch Messi’s majesty below:
Yet, Messi’s magic has not been limited to scoring but also providing, and there are plenty who could also shoulder the scoring burden should the captain take the chance to play creator.
Sought-after Napoli net threat Gonzalo Higuain has also been sniffing out goals left, right and centre after bagging two braces in as many of his last matches to keep Sergio Aguero (4/1 for the final say) on the bench. Punters can plump for the poacher at 5/1 to dispatch two or more again.
Also looking to rifle past La Roja is Angel Di Maria, with the PSG star having already hit two against Chile in 2016 and he is now 7/4 to make it three anytime.
Chile an immovable object?
Without the ferocious backing of home fans, Chile have proven their silverware success was no fluke and are 19/10 to lift the Copa America trophy for the second time on the trot.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s tenacious Chileans are generally a tight unit at the back but will have their hands full attempting to thwart the potent firepower of their opposition.
As 7/2 shouts for the game, or 11/5 for a draw in 90 minutes, forcing another finale to extra-time is certainly possible now Chile have tasted success, and they have been equally as impressive in attack as Argentina this tournament.
Charles Aranguiz of Bayer Leverkusen fame was on target to help his team push past tough customers Colombia in the semi-finals, and is 7/1 to strike again anytime, while fellow Bundesliga-based talent Arturo Vidal is 10/3 to find the net.
Former QPR flop Eduardo Vargas clearly saves his best for his country and has been in blistering form in the Copa so far, leading bigger names in the scoring charts with six to his credit. Four of those arrived as La Roja routed Mexico 7-0, and vibrant Vargas is 7/4 to add another to his tally.
Available at the same price is Arsenal attacker and Chile talisman Sanchez, who has notched three so far, and displayed his determination by driving forward against Colombia, memorably sending James Rodriguez flying due to his strength.
See Sanchez knock Rodriguez over:
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) June 23, 2016
Still, with Messi and Higuain in such magnificent form, La Roja have it all to do to retain. A win from behind for Chile is 22/1. Elsewhere, the USA and Colombia will compete for the best third place finish on Sunday.