As quickly as it began, Copa America Centenario is about to come to a close. The final game is set for Sunday and it is a rematch of the final from a year ago. Defending champion Chile faces FIFA number one ranked Argentina at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
Copa America Final Preview: Argentina-Chile
These two teams are star studded on both ends with Argentina led by superstars Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, and Angel Di Maria. Chile is led by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Bayern Munich’s Arturo Vidal. Both teams have a rich history between each other which will set up a nail bitter.
Argentina and Chile were drawn to group D in the tournament. Along side these two teams were Panama and Bolivia. Argentina cruised through the group with little problems, winning all three games by a combined score of 10-1.
Argentina’s Dominant Path to the Copa America Final
Coincidentally, the two finalists faced off in Santa Clara, CA to kick off both of their campaigns. The game went 2-1 in favor of the Argentinians thanks to goals by Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega.
After beating Chile, they traveled to Chicago, IL to face Blas Perez and Panama. They looked unstoppable as they handedly beat down Panama 5-0 thanks to a hat trick by Lionel Messi. Hat tricks from him are not unheard of. But this hat trick was special as he came on in the second half and netted the hat trick with in 19 minutes after his first goal. One of his goals was a free kick that was absolutely stunning. It was truly “Messi Magic.” After Panama, they traveled to Seattle, WA to face Bolivia. Argentina beat Bolivia 3-0 with goals to Di Maria, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Victor Cuesta.
Argentina went on to face the surprise of the tournament Venezuela, who somehow made it through a group with Uruguay, Mexico and Jamaica. Argentina quickly dismissed them from the tournament with a 4-1 win. Gonzalo Higuain netted a brace with Messi and Erik Lamela also scoring a goal a piece.
Next up for Argentina was the United States of America. It would be some sort of a challenge as Argentina is much more technical and skillful while the U.S has the bigger build and more physicality. Physicality didn’t matter as they beat down the U.S 4-0. During the game, the U.S did not register a single shot throughout 90 minutes. Messi scored two more goals to bring his tournament total to five while Higuain and Lavezzi both scored.
Chile Look To Repeat in East Rutherford
Chile had a different type of route to get to the finals. After losing to Argentina in the opening game, the team took a step back to regain their composure. Their next game was against Bolivia in Foxborough, MA. They narrowly won 2-1 thanks to a last minute penalty from Arturo Vidal who also took another penalty earlier in the game. The late penalty was in the 10th minute of injury time. After winning in a head scratcher of a game, they traveled to Philadelphia, PA to face Panama. There, they won 4-2 thanks to braces from both Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas.
Their first elimination game was against Mexico in Santa Clara, CA. El Tri was on a 20-game unbeaten streak. That was the longest streak in the world at the time. But their form didn’t show it. Chile gave Mexico the beating of a life time. The game ended in a lopsided 7-0 win for Chile. That loss happens to be the worst loss in history for Mexico in a major tournament. Eduardo Vargas netted four goals with Edson Puch netting a brace and Alexis Sanchez scoring one goal.
Next they faced group D runner-up Colombia in Chicago, IL. Chile took a 2-0 lead early from goals by Charles Aránguiz and Jose Fuenzalida. Then a thunderstorm came in and the game had to take a two and a half hour delay. After the delay was over, Chile never relinquished the lead and the game ended up still 2-0.
The two teams are familiar with each other. Being neighbors in South America, they have faced each other quite a few times. But Argentina staggeringly leads the all time series 59-22-7. Chile has something to prove on Sunday. While Lionel Messi is on red hot form with five goals, Chile has Eduardo Vargas with six goals. Chile has been on fire by beating both Mexico and Colombia a combined 9-0. Those two countries are nothing to scoff at. They were the better team on both days and it showed. Argentina played Venezuela and the U.S.
Chile may have the momentum coming into the game, but Argentina has a lot of fire power all around the team. Only one team can be named the champion of the 100th anniversary of Copa America. What is certain though is that both teams will leave it all on the field.