Copa America Final: Lionel Messi Finally Secures International Silverware

Copa America Final
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Arch rivals Brazil and Argentina took centre stage in the showpiece Copa America Final. Both nations were fancied at the start to go on and win the tournament. However, it was Argentina who got the better of Brazil with a solitary goal (1-0) by Angel di Maria at the famous Estadio de Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

Argentina Beat Brazil in Tense Copa America Final

Argentina Prevail over Brazil – A Tactical Analysis

Brazil arrived at their home final on the back of six undefeated matches with five wins and a draw over Ecuador. Their last two games were tightly-fought contests with two 1-0 narrow victories over Chile in the quarter-finals and Peru in the semi-final. Lucas Paqueta was the hero in both those contests and had a fantastic tournament. Their star performer was the maverick Neymar. He illuminated the tournament with his skills, two goals and three key assists.

Brazil coach Tite usually sets up his side with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Neymar occupying various roles in the midfield three and as the sole striker. With no Gabriel Jesus in the final due to his red card incident, however, Richarlison occupied the striker role.

A Look at Argentina

On the other hand, Argentina booked their place in the final with an entertaining match with Colombia. The game finished 1-1 with Argentina coming out on top on penalties 3-2. Their goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa was the hero with a remarkable three penalty saves during the shootout.

He was a standout performer alongside Lionel Messi, who produced a brilliant tournament. His impressive statistics included four goals and five assists in his six matches. He was at the heart of everything his country did well. It is clear he was as hungry as ever to finally end his barren spell of trophies with Argentina.

Coach Lionel Scaloni utilises a 4-3-3 attacking formation with a solid three in midfield marshelled by Guido Rodriguez, Rodrigo De Paul and Giovani Lo Celso. Therefore this gives license to the attacking front three with a multitude of options for the boss to choose from.

His side, like Brazil, were unbeaten with four wins and two draws heading into the game. Their opening 1-1 draw with Chile was a fiery contest and set the tone for a passionte run to the final.

Brazil v Argentina: The Tale-of-the-Tape

Coming into this latest duel between the historica South American nations, the Brazil vs Argentina head-to-head record was led by Brazil. The nation won 46 matches and lost 40 matches in the 111 encounters between the two teams. There has also been 25 draws between the teams.

The last time Brazil had faced Argentina at the Copa America was in the 2019 edition’s semi-final, which the Selecao won 2-0.

Argentina Gain the Glory Over Brazil in the Copa America Final

7,800 invited guests took their place for the final. And the script of the finale was of a tense affair with few clear chances created. Argentina changed formation for the final, occupying a 4-4-2 formation to give the team more solidity in midfield and to ward off the threat of Brazil. It was a tactic that worked as Brazil, who although created 13 chances to Argentina’s six, gave Messi and his country little to worry about.

The key moment of the match arrived in the 22nd minute when Angel di Maria converted a trademark lob over goalkeeper Ederson to take the lead.

It was one of those games in which the first goal would dictate the match. Argentina comfortably controlled the possesion with and without the ball as Brazil searched for a home goal on hallowed turf. But it was to be Argentina’s night as they won in their rivals’ most beloved stadia. This momentus victory ended 28 years of not winning the Copa America.

Lionel Messi v Neymar: Who Came Out on Top?

The box office battle between the two megastars was won by Lionel Messi. It was the first time each had faced each other on the pitch since 2017. It was a long awaited duel that did not really fulfil. Neymar was at the heart of all things in the yellow and green but could not dictate the final as he would have wished. Meanwhile Messi had a great chance to sign off a spectacular tournament with another goal. But the striker slipped at a crucial moment with the goal gaping.

However, he was lifted into the air post-match as his team serenaded him in sheer delight. Messi performed admirably with four goals and five assists. He was deservingly named player of the tournament. 15 years after making his Argentina debut and in his 11th international tournament, he finally has a trophy with his beloved country. Now 34 and a free agent, Messi has the world at his feet and it remains to be seen whether he’ll stay at Barcelona.

The Key Men at the Copa America Final

Match winner Angel di Maria produced the moment of the game with his luscious lob. He was a constant threat in the team and proved he is still a class act. Lionel Messi aided his side again in his best tournament in his illustrious history. Meanwhile goalkeeper Emi Martinez made two smart saves from Richarlison and Gabriel Barbosa to cement his status as one of the tournaments’ best performers and a crucial player for his countries final win.

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