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Argentina Top 5 Greatest Games in Copa América History

Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates during Copa America contest

The 48th edition of Copa América gets underway on Thursday night, as holders and joint-record winners Argentina take on tournament debutants Canada at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Ahead of the big kick-off in Georgia, we’ll look back at Argentina’s top 5 greatest games in Copa América history, which isn’t easy, considering la Albiceleste have hoisted this trophy aloft on 15 seperate occasions.

Argentina Top 5 Greatest Games in Copa América

Copa América 1921: Argentina 1-0 Uruguay

Fire up the DeLorean, because we’re travelling back 103 years to October 1921, where the fifth edition of the South American Championship is taking place.

To date, the competition had been dominated by Uruguay, winning three of the first four editions, while la Celeste’s sole defeat to date had come in the 1919 final against Brazil.

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Two years on, with Buenos Aires hosting the competition, Argentina were able to win the Copa América for the very first time, doing so without conceding a goal, while Julio Libonatti was the star, scoring in all three matches.

The 1-0 victory over Uruguay, that crowned la Albiceleste South American champions for the first time ever, was certainly symbolic, defeating the continent’s dominant force and, of course, this would be just the start of Argentina’s success.

Copa América 1947: Argentina 3-1 Uruguay

Fast forward to 1947, still known as the South American Championship, the competition remains a round-robin group stage, now with eight teams taking part, although Brazil did not participate.

Argentina travelled to Ecuador as strong favourites, a status they were able to live up to, winning a third successive Copa.

La Albiceleste dominated at this tournament, winning six of seven matches, drawing the other, scoring 28 goals and conceding just four.

Notably, amongst their scorers, was a teenaged Alfredo Di Stéfano, who actually scored six in six at the competition, including a hat-trick against Colombia, helping the country of his birth to glory.

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Four years later, he joined Real Madrid, winning eight La Liga titles and five European Cups, also switching his international allegiance to Spain, for whom he scored 23 times in 31 caps, one of which came against Argentina in 1961.

Fair to say, FIFA’s eligibility rules are far stricter now!

Back to this tournament, this triumph in 1947 remains the only time any nation has won three successive Copa América titles.

Copa América 1959: Argentina 1-1 Brazil

It’s 1959 and Argentina are hosting the Copa América for the first time in 13 years, which doesn’t sound like a long time, but six editions have taken place in the intervening period, while la Albiceleste have sky-high hopes, kicking off as defending champions once again.

Once again, they steamrolled the field, smashing Chile 6-1 and winning every outing, until they came up against Brazil in a straight shootout for the title.

A year earlier, the Seleção won the World Cup for the first time, a title they would retain in 1962, but were unable to dethrone Argentina in between; Juan José Pizzuti gave the hosts the lead at the Monumental, before a 19-year-old by the name of Pelé equalised, but the draw is enough for la Albiceleste.

This was the fifth time Argentina had hosted a Copa América and each time they were crowned champions, a record that lasted until 1987 when Uruguay beat them 1-0, before Uruguay beat them again on home soil in 2011, but those games do not belong on this list!

Copa América 1993: Argentina 2-1 Mexico

We’ve made it to 1993 and this is the start of a new era for the Copa América.

Teams from outside CONMEBOL are invited for the very first time, namely the USA and Mexico, with a group stage followed by a knockout phase introduced for the first time, a format they’d stick with subsequently.

Having won their 13th title two years earlier, Argentina head to Ecuador with high hopes although, after only winning one group game, they run into Brazil in the quarter-finals, scraping through in a penalty shootout, with Marco Antônio Boiadeiro the only man to miss from 12 yards in Guayaquil.

Alfio Basile’s side are then taken to penalties again, this time by Colombia, again scoring all six, Néstor Gorosito, Diego Simeone, Leonardo Rodríguez, Alberto Acosta and Jorge Borelli converting in both shootouts.

Debutants Mexico had massively upset the odds by getting to the final, but El Tri’s adventure would not have the fairytale ending, with Gabriel Batistuta’s brace enough to see Argentina retain the trophy.

Copa América 2021: Argentina 1-0 Brazil

Lastly, we’re heading back to the most-recent edition of Copa América, the tournament at which Argentina finally ended their trophy drought.

Following the triumph in ’93, la Albiceleste then lost six successive finals, beaten in the Copa América Finals of 2004, 2007, 2015 and 2016, the 2005 Confederations Cup Final by Brazil and the World Cup Final itself by Germany in 2014.

Lionel Messi had four runners-up medals in his collection, and time was running out for him to win international silverware.

After swatting aside Ecuador in the quarter-finals, Lionel Scaloni’s side nearly came unstuck against Colombia in the semi-finals, with Emi Martínez emerging as the hero, saving three spot-kicks in Brasília to set up a heavyweight final against the hosts.

Four nights later at the Maracanã, Ángel Di María was the hero and only scorer, as Argentina ended their 28-year wait for a major trophy.

The following year, they’d also beat Italy in the  Finalissima at Wembley before, slightly more memorably, defeating France in the World Cup Final, as Lionel Messi officially completed football.

You wouldn’t put it past him to fire them to Copa América glory stateside this summer too, would you?


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