Why Lionel Messi’s “Retirement” Is Probably Just A Threat

Lionel Messi – It might have been merely frustration: Three straight years of making international finals, three straight finals losses in extra time or on penalties. Or it might have been the last night of Argentina as we know it.

After falling to Chile on PKs in the Copa America final for the second year in a row, Argentina’s biggest start and the world’s greatest soccer playersaid he’s done with the national team.

“It’s incredible, the fact that we can’t win it,” Lionel Messi told reporters. “It happened to us again, and by penalty kicks. It’s the third consecutive final. We tried. We tried and it wasn’t for us. It’s difficult in this moment to do any sort of analysis. In the locker room, I thought that the national team is not for me. It’s what I feel right now. It’s a great sadness that it happened to me again, the fact that I missed a penalty kick that was very important. It’s for the good of everybody. It’s not enough to just get to the final and not win.

“I was thinking in the locker room that this is it for me in terms of the national team. It has been four finals [including the 2007 Copa América]. It’s not for me. I tried to find [a title]. It’s what I wanted most. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it, but I think that’s it.”

Lionel Messi

Messi was just the first domino to fall. In the ensuing hours, reports emerged tying just about every player of quality to early international retirement. It’s hard to keep track of them all at this point, but ESPN was told that Javier Mascherano, Sergio Aguero, and Lucas Biglia are planning to quit the national team. Angel Di Maria, Gonazlo Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and Ever Banega could follow.

How did it all go so wrong? As you might guess, the problems here run much deeper than results. The Argentine FA is, to put it mildly, a nightmare. (“Que desastre,” as Messi put it on Friday.)

The AFA’s corruption is so endemic, it outlived its architect. Julio Grondona died in 2014 after 35 years with unquestioned power, and he left behind a mess. Prosecutors have alleged that money meant for the clubs has disappeared into the pockets of executives and politicians. Grondona’s successor, AFA president Luis Segura, was indicted last week along with six other executives and three former presidential cabinet heads. National team players have long complained of being constantly sent around the world for matches to put money in the FA’s coffers. No one knows what next season’s Primera División will look like, or if it will even exist amid a push for a new “Superliga.” Last December’s presidential election ended in a farce, when 75 voters somehow produced a 38-38 tie.

Things have gotten so bad that on Friday FIFA stepped in to seize control of the AFA.

This, then, is the backdrop for Messi’s shocking pronouncement, as much or more so than the pure on-field frustration of again coming so close yet failing to win Argentina’s first major trophy since 1993. For that reason, it’s possible to read these retirement hints as threats—as a potential power play on the part of Argentina’s golden generation. FA reform now, or we walk.

Messi will be 30 years old at the start of the next World Cup, and it is hard to imagine him not being there. But will the prospect be enough for Argentina to get its shit straight?

Lionel Messi says his Argentina career is over after Copa América final defeat

Lionel Messi has said his international career is over at the age of 29 after he blazed a penalty over the bar in Argentina’s defeat in the Copa América final to Chile.

The Argentina captain missed his spot-kick in the decisive shootout at Met Life Stadium, which Chile went on to win 4-2 and secure a second Copa crown in two years, and was disconsolate on the pitch after the game.

“I tried so hard to be [a] champion with Argentina. But it didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it. I think it’s best for everyone, for me and for many people who want it. The choice for me is over, it is a decision. I tried many times [to be a champion] but did not.”

Sergio Agüero and other Argentina players could now follow Messi’s lead, with the Manchester City forward telling Olé: “The likelihood is that Messi is not the only one that will leave the national team. There are several players like me that are evaluating whether or not to continue.


“One doesn’t want to think about it but at times, there are things that happen and the thought [of retiring] comes into your mind. Afterwards, it’s difficult to get it out. Unfortunately, the one that leaves most affected is Leo Messi after his penalty miss. This is the worst that I’ve seen him in the changing room. We are all affected and we will try to think about something else and move forward. Again, luck was not on our side.”

The defeat continued Argentina’s 23-year trophyless run and Messi’s own personal misery now extends to four lost finals with the national side – at the 2014 World Cup against Germany and at three Copa Américas, in 2007, 2015 and now 2016.

Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said: “The burden of the consecutive games [lost] has been accumulating these last two years. He feels like you would expect a player to feel after playing and losing a final.”

Messi had enjoyed another impressive outing in the latest final of his international career but failed to find a finishing touch over 120 minutes of play. Still, few would have expected him to miss from 12 yards after Chile’s Arturo Vidal had seen the first kick of the shootout saved by Sergio Romero. But the Barcelona forward conspired to balloon the ball over the bar and pass up the chance to give his side an early advantage.

Lucas Biglia also missed for Argentina with his penalty being saved by Messi’s Barcelona team-mate Claudio Bravo, before Chilean midfielder Francisco Silva scored the decisive spot-kick.

Messi, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, was representing his country for the 112th time since making his debut in 2005 as an 18-year-old.

In that time he scored 55 times, including five this tournament. He surpassed Gabriel Batistuta’s all-time leading mark of 54 for Argentina with a superb free-kick in last week’s semi-final against the US.

“Messi’s numbers are unparalleled and I think they’ll remain that way forever, because it’s impossible for a football player to do what Messi has done,” said Juan Antonio Pizzi, the Chile coach who is from Argentina. “My generation can’t compare him to [Diego] Maradona that’s for my generation, because of what Maradona did for Argentine soccer. But I think the best player ever played today here in the United States.”

Immediately after Sunday’s shock announcement, goalkeeper Romero said he hoped Messi would change his mind. “I think Leo spoke in the heat of the moment because we missed that great chance,” said Romero.

Messi now stands to miss the 2018 World Cup, with the odds of Argentina breaking their long-standing major trophy drought in Russia just having lengthened significantly.

Copa America 2016 winners and losers: Our goal of the tournament, best player, surprise team and biggest disappointment

Copa America 2016 winners and losers – Just like in 2015 Chile and Argentina were inseparable over 120 minutes and the Copa America final ended up in a penalty shoot-out. And just like in 2015, Chile won. Lionel Messi missed a penalty after Arturo Vidal saw his spot-kick saved, but then Lucas Biglia’s miss condemned Argentina to a 23rd year without a trophy.

Although the final was short on goals, it wasn’t short on incident with two red cards, and the tournament as a whole was full of intrigue and controversy. Here are Sportsmail’s awards and analysis of this special 100th year edition of the Copa America.

First, the official awards…

Golden glove (best goalkeeper) – Claudio Bravo (Chile)

Golden ball (best player) – Alexis Sanchez (Chile)

Golden boot (top scorer) – Eduardo Vargas (Chile, 6 goals)


Best player Lionel Messi: Yes, he blew it, sending his penalty into the New Jersey night sky, before retiring from international football after the game, distraught. But until that point he had enjoyed an almost flawless tournament.

A 19-minute hat-trick against Panama from the bench, a dazzling cameo against Bolivia, dominating performances against Venezuela and the USA, along with being the only player in his team that looked capable of creating anything in the final mean he was the tournament’s best player. Sanchez took the actual Golden Ball award, but he wasn’t even the best player in Chile’s team – that was Arturo Vidal, who curiously also missed from the spot as the final came to a head.



Unexpectedly impressive player Jose Pedro Fuenzalida: The versatile Fuenzalida was excellent for Chile. He came on as a substitute in their first game against Argentina, scoring a later consolation, but from then on was a key presence in their side. The 31-year-old plays in his own country at club level, for Universidad Catolica. Although it seems a bit late in the day for him to head to Europe, clubs would be advised to take a look as he probably wouldn’t set them back too much. He played in various positions in the tournament, although his best is as a right midfielder.

Surprise team Few expected Chile to reach the final again, let alone win the trophy, but considering their achievement last year, it wouldn’t be giving them enough credit to put their performances down as a total surprise.

So Venezuela were the most surprising package. They came within 10 minutes of topping Group C, with Mexico scoring a late equaliser to force them into a clash against Argentina in the quarter-final.

Even in that game they had a period of dominance. There was a 15-minute spell towards the end of the first half in which they could have scored on three or four occasions, including Luis Seijas attempting a Panenka penalty which was caught by Sergio Romero, who couldn’t believe his luck.


Biggest disappointment That Luis Suarez didn’t get to make an appearance because of the hamstring injury he picked up in the Copa del Rey final was a shame. The Barcelona star was desperate to play, as this would have been his first tournament appearance for his country since he bit Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup.

After his sensational form during the club season it would have been excellent to see him dazzle for the Celeste, too – this could have been the ‘summer of Suarez’. Still, Suarez managed to entertain us with his touchline histrionics after he wasn’t brought on as a substitute. He punched the dug-out wall in frustration, shouting furiously, and then started to sulk, having warmed up, taped his ankles and then been ignored. The funniest thing of all was he didn’t know he hadn’t even been picked on the bench because of his injury.


Best performance Chile’s 7-0 thrashing of Mexico will live long in the memory. Even at 3-0 they were already putting in the finest showing of the tournament up to that point, but the goals just kept coming as La Roja refused to relent, even as Mexico’s figurative head was smashed into the ground over and over. Eduardo Vargas was the star of the show, scoring a ‘poker’ – four goals.


Best goal There weren’t many stunning strikes in this tournament but Lionel Messi’s rip-roaring free-kick against the USA in the semi-final was certainly one. He beat Brad Guzan on the side of the goal the stopper was protecting, with an effort that somehow managed to dip into the top corner while seemingly always rising. What’s more, it was the goal that made Messi Argentina’s outright all-time top goalscorer, taking over from the legendary Gabriel Batistuta.

Hosting comments On one hand the USA have to be commended for staging the tournament without any major malfunctions, given they only knew they were going to host it seven months before the start. They can also boast a record attendance for a Copa America, with an average of more than 46,000 per game.

However, there are various complaints. From expensive tickets to half-empty stadiums – some MLS grounds should have been used for lesser games, instead of cavernous NFL arenas – not everything was a smooth ride. There were obvious problems for teams having to travel huge distances, while others like Mexico benefited from staying in one area. And some sides were forced to play in extreme heat.

There were two notable mistakes with anthems, Chile’s being played instead of Uruguay’s, while later the end of the Chile anthem was blasted over by Pitbull. Stewards didn’t all have a great grasp of where things were – perhaps a consequence of the short lead-in time to the tournament. Fans were often forced to shell out big sums for parking, and at some grounds still ended up a 20 minute walk away from the stadium itself.

Passion for the Copa America didn’t take over any of the cities. Unlike in Chile the year before, where entire towns were interested in games, here they seemed like just another show, which drew supporters who came and went. That’s obviously to do with the size of the cities and the lack of interest in ‘soccer’ from the general public. There was a rumour that the Copa America could be held in the USA every four years, but that was thankfully quashed.

One of the best things about the tournament, typically, in comparison to the World Cup and the European Championship, is that it doesn’t feel as identikit – the culture and sentiment of the host country really shines through. That wasn’t really the case in the US – it was one more act, passing through, instead of something that gripped a nation.


Worst refereeing decision Refereeing standards are never the highest at these tournaments and this year was no exception. Uruguayan official Andres Cunha took the biscuit, though.

Raul Ruidiaz’s handball which knocked Brazil out of the Copa being given as a goal was as bad as it got, with the player clearly punching the ball into the net. To make matters worse, the officials discussed what had happened for nearly four minutes, appeared to be consulting with a mystery party elsewhere, by earpiece, and still ended up making the wrong decision.

Best fans Colombia brought the party. From car park barbecues with food offered around and drinks flowing, to giant flags, face paint, full body suits and dance-offs outside the stadium, their fans made for vibrant viewing to say the least, and were friendly to boot.


Worst fans Mexico supporters were in with a shout of being best fans too, given they turned up in numbers, joked around with Donald Trump piñatas and created a party atmosphere. But there was another element to their support too, which has to be mentioned. A dislikeable one. The type of fan who throws his drink onto the pitch at opposition players after they score. The type of fan who yells ‘puto’ (fag) at goalkeepers after a goalkick. A homophobic chant which was in very bad taste at the best of times and particularly inexcusable in the wake of the Orlando massacre. But still it came. And as they were crushed 7-0 by Chile, with many of their fans deserting the stadium, some of the remaining supporters started to chant it at their own goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa.

Power rankings (Expectation level crossed with performance)

1. Chile

2. Argentina

3. USA

4. Colombia

5. Venezuela

6. Peru

7. Mexico

8. Ecuador

9. Costa Rica

10. Panama

11. Paraguay

12. Haiti

13. Brazil

14. Jamaica

15. Bolivia

16. Uruguay

Highlights Argentina vs Chile – Chile beat Argentina on penalties to win Copa América – as it happened


Argentina vs Chile Copa America 2016 final: Where to watch live, preview, prediction, betting odds and possible XI

Argentina vs Chile Copa America 2016 final – Argentina take on Chile in the 2016 Copa America Centenario final at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, 26 June.

Where to watch live

Kick-off is at 1am BST (on Monday). Premier Sports will provide live coverage in the United Kingdom.


Argentina come into this fixture after defeating the host nation USA comfortably in the first semi-final of the 2016 Copa America. Captain Lionel Messi scored from a free-kick and that saw the Barcelona star become his country’s leading goalscorer.

All hopes will rest on Messi in the final in order to help Argentina beat Chile. He will also have the help from of likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria in his side’s attack.

Chile, on the other hand, are high on confidence after beating Mexico 7-0 in the quarter-final and Colombia 2-0 in the semi-final to seal a berth in the final. Eduardo Vargas was the star player against Mexico, scoring four quick goals in his side’s thumping victory.

Juan Antonio Pizzi will be hoping his side can beat Argentina in the final on Sunday in order to retain the title. The two sides have already faced each other in the tournament as Argentina came out victorious 2-1.


  • Chile to win

Betting Odds (betfair)

  • Argentina to win: 19/20
  • Draw: 23/10
  • Chile to win: 18/5

Team News


Possible XI: Romero; Rojo, Funes Mori, Otamendi, Mercado; Mascherano, Banega, Biglia; Lamela, Messi, Higuain


Possible XI: Bravo; Beausejour, Jara, Medel, Isla; Vidal, Diaz, Aranguiz; Fuenzalida, Sanchez, Vargas.

Argentina vs. Chile Copa America 2016: Time, TV schedule and team news for final match

Argentina vs. Chile Copa America 2016 – The final of the Copa America Centenario is a rematch of last summer’s Copa final — but this time it promises to be a much more exciting and entertaining match than what we were treated to a year ago. Both teams are coming into this match flying high and playing fantastically, and this promises to be an end to end battle for ninety minutes.

#ArgentinavsChile #CopaAmerica #CopaAmerica2016 #LionelMessi #CopaAmericaFinal

Argentina are playing with more confidence and freedom than they were a year ago. They’re having fun and absolutely dominating good teams because of it. Chile are more aggressive and dangerous, and we saw just how explosive they can be going forward when they decimated Mexico in the quarterfinals. With the form Chile and Argentina are in, this should be an absolute blast of a match.

The two teams did already face off once in the tournament, kicking off the group stage with a 2-1 win for Argentina. Both teams have improved vastly since that match, though, and this is going to be a very different game — and hopefully a very, very fun one at that.

Key player — Lionel Messi (Argentina)

In a very real way, this match begins and ends with Messi’s performance. He’s been jaw-droppingly good ever since he came back from injury, completely changing matches and willing Argentina to wins. Now he’s got the chance to finally break Argentina’s Copa drought and pick up a senior international trophy while he’s at it, which will give those few who still refuse to acknowledge Messi as an all-time great a lot less ammunition to work with.

Key matchup — Ever Banega (Argentina) vs. Arturo Vidal (Chile)

When Chile played Colombia in the semifinal, you could tell that they missed the suspended Vidal. They still won easily, but even aside from the disruptive influence of a two-hour weather delay, they lacked the toughness and edge in midfield that Vidal brings them. With him back in the side, keeping someone like Banega in check will be much easier, and make no mistake as to the importance of that goal. Banega has been a sorely underrated part of Argentina’s possession game and overall attacking success in this tournament, and if Vidal can throw him off his game, it will make Chile’s chances of winning much higher.

Match Date/Time: Sunday, 8 p.m. ET

Venue: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S.A.

TV: Fox Sports 1 (U.S. – English), Univision, Univision Deportes (U.S. – Spanish), TyC Sports, DIRECTV Sports, Canal 7 (Argentina), Canal 13, DIRECTV Sports (Chile)

Online: Fox Soccer 2 Go, Fox Sports Go, fuboTV (U.S.), TyC Sports Play, DIRECTV Play Deportes (Argentina), DIRECTV Play Deportes (Chile)

Copa América Centenario 2016 Final Argentina vs Chile, Preview, Prediction & Predicted Lineup

South America giants Argentina and Chile will reprise last year’s final as they once again face each other this summer for the 2016 Copa América Centenario trophy at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on Sunday, June 26.


Argentina defeated tournament host the United States, 4-0, at the NRG Stadium in Houston on Tuesday in what looked like a 90-minute soccer clinic as five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi and his crew freely showcased their obvious dominance on the pitch over the Americans, as per ESPN.

The scoring started early as Hebei China Fortune striker Ezequiel Lavezzi headed the first goal right at the third minute from a brilliant volley pass by Messi.

The Argentina captain himself then netted the second one at the 32nd via an unbelievable penalty kick that saw the ball curve from right to left then back to the upper right corner of the goal just inches away from the left hand of USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan, to put the FIFA world no. 1 team on top by two goals at the half.

Gonzalo Higuaín then tip-toed to score the team’s third goal just five minutes after the restart before Messi once again assisted, this time to Higuaín, at the 86th minute to complete the four-goal haul of La Albiceleste.

Meanwhile, Chile, who won the Cup last year, 4-1 on penalties, after finishing regulation time with Argentina in a goalless draw, is coming off a 2-0 victory over Colombia on Wednesday at the Soldier in Chicago, The Guardian reported.

In a match delayed by bad weather, head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side started the game strongly as they scored two early goals at the seventh and 11th minutes with strikes from Bayer Leverkusen’s Charles Aranguiz and Universidad Católica’s Jose Pedro Fuenzalida respectively.

La Roja is expected to come out with their A-game against La Albiceleste in the final with star midfielder Arturo Vidal coming back from suspension.

Argentina defeated Chile, 2-1, during their group stage opener even without Messi and so it would be hard to bet on the latter claiming their second straight Copa title.

The predicted result is a 3-1 win for Argentina.

Argentina starting lineup (4-3-3 formation): Romero; Mercado, Otamendi, Funes Mori, Rojo; Fernandez, Mascherano, Banega; Messi, Higuaín, Di Maria

Chile starting lineup (4-3-3 formation): Bravo; Isla, Medel, Jara, Beausejour; Aranguiz, Vidal, Hernandez; Fuenzalida, Vargas, Sanchez

Copa America 2016 Finals Argentina vs Chile Preview: Who Will Win in The Repeat of Last Year’s Finals? Kickoff, TV Info, Livestream, Tickets

Copa America 2016 Finals Argentina vs Chile Preview – Defending champions Chile will face Argentina in the finals of the Copa America 2016, a repeat of last year’s championship match-up.


What Happened in the 2015 Copa America?

Last year, the Chileans emerged victorious versus La Albiceleste in a 4-1 win through penalty kicks. Coming in to the finals, both teams have stumbled into some difficulties including the loss of Chile during the first group game against Lionel Messi’s team.

Despite losing their first match, Chile emerged as a strong team in the games that followed, showing fans that nothing can seem to go wrong with their plays. On the other hand, Messi has been contributing goals to Argentina for their past games

Lionel Messi is a Game-Changer

Because of Messi’s participation, Argentina is the favored team to win the tournament and bring home the title after failing to bag it in the past 23 years. The finals match will also be their third straight attempt at the title and the team hopes this year will not end like the previous two.

Messi and the rest of the team were in high spirits as they traveled from Houston to New York for Sunday night’s game at the MetLife Stadium. The team looked calm and prepared for the finals game though there is certainly a lot of pressure to win the Copa America Centenario title.

On the contrary, Chile has a powerful team that can bring in needed results to win the tournament. The squad is confident that talented players like Alexis Sanchez, Claudio Bravo, Gary Medel and Eduardo Vargas will be enough to counter Messi and the other Argentine men.

Chile Positive to Retain Title

“We’re going to play the same way we did against Mexico, and the way we have through qualifying and this tournament,” said Chilean midfielder Charles Aranguiz. Chile beat Mexico in a 7-0 blowout during the quarterfinals.

Though Chile lost Pablo Hernandez during its match versus Colombia, Arturo Vidal will be returning after his suspension. Sports Illustrated said he was given enough time to rest and prepare well for the finals.

As for Argentina, Ezequiel Lavezzi will not be able to play due to a broken elbow while Augusto Fernandez’s participation is still unsure after he strained his mucle.

How Can I Watch?

Sunday’s game will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets cost between $300 to $1300. The match can also be viewed on Sox Sports 1 with livestreaming available on this link.

Copa America Final 2016 Prediction, Date, Time For Argentina vs. Chile

Copa America Final 2016 Prediction – At a specially arranged tournament, squeezed inconveniently into the calendar and without every team’s strongest squad, upsets might have been expected. Instead, the Copa America Centenario will conclude Sunday at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium with a rematch of last year’s final. And given the motivations for Argentina and Chile, it is perhaps no surprise that the two squads will meet again for South America’s championship.


For Argentina, there was never any doubt about how seriously it would take the competition. A long wait for a senior international title has become increasingly painful over the past two summers. Argentina suffered an extra-time loss to Germany in the World Cup final in Brazil, and Chile came out on top on a penalty shootout in last year’s Copa America final in Santiago.

That Argentina has not won an international crown since 1993 — when it lifted the last of its 14 Copa America titles — is one of soccer’s great stories of underachievement. In that 23-year span, the country has won the Under-20 World Cup a remarkable five times.

But the likes of Juan Román Riquelme, Hernan Crespo Juan Sebastián Verón and Pablo Aimar never delivered a senior prize. And now time is running out for the generation led by the perhaps the greatest player of all time, Lionel Messi.

Five players involved when the Argentina won the most recent of its Under 20 World Cup titles in 2007 – Sergio Agüero, Ángel di María, Éver Banega, Gabriel Mercado and Sergio Romero – will be part of a lineup that takes on Chile on Sunday night. All are now 28 or 29 years old, right in their primes. Go back two years ago, when Argentina again lifted the Under 20 World Cup, and you can add Messi, 28, and 30-year-old midfielder Lucas Biglia to the list who reached the pinnacle at youth level and will be looking to claim a maiden senior title against Chile.

There is an expectation that this will finally be their time. Argentina has been the most impressive team throughout this Copa America Centenario, supremely focused from the start on seizing the opportunity at hand. They won all five matches, and emphatically so, by an aggregate margin of 18-2. Most recently, the Albiceleste blew away host nation the United States 4-0 in the semifinals.

Counting hugely in favor of Gerardo Martino’s team is that, unlike at the last two major tournaments, Messi is fresh and playing every inch like the best player in the world. A pre-tournament back injury now appears to have been a blessing, allowing the Barcelona star to ease into the tournament and save his fuel for when it really matters, with his first start not coming until the quarterfinals.

On top of that, there is a chance that the more subtly influential Di María, who missed the 2014 World Cup final due to injury and was forced off less than 30 minutes into the 2015 Copa America final, could recover from an abductor injury in time for Sunday. Only midfielder Augusto Fernández is definitely ruled out.

But with such expectation comes huge pressure. Messi has felt the brunt of failure more than any Argentinean of late, with the attacks on his performance against Chile last year fueling rumors that he could even walk away from representing his country. And legendary playmaker Diego Maradona, who inspired Argentina to its last World Cup title in 1986 and with whom Messi is so often compared, has weighed in ahead of Sunday’s clash with a blunt message to the current squad.

“If you don’t win, don’t come back,” he said.

There is powerful incentive, too, for Argentina’s opponents. For Chile, last year’s win, sealed when Alexis Sánchez dinked home the decisive penalty, ended a centurylong wait for a first senior international title. But the arrangement of a 100-year celebration of the competition just a year later threatens to make Chile’s grip on the trophy short-lived.

It certainly looked set to be that way after Chile made an unconvincing start to the defense of its title. With the man who guided La Roja to that famous success on home soil, Jorge Sampaoli, gone, Chile lacked the brilliantly cohesive intensity early on under replacement Juan Antonio Pizzi.

Indeed, in its opening game of the tournament, Argentina came out on top in a manner far more convincing than the 2-1 scoreline suggested. The second game was little better, with a penalty deep into injury time from Arturo Vidal required to beat Bolivia. But then the pieces started falling back into place.

The attack clicked in a 4-2 defeat of Panama, even if the rearguard still left plenty to be desired, before everything came together spectacularly to wipe Mexico aside in a 7-0 quarterfinal demolition. It appeared that a similar drubbing was on the cards when Chile raced into a 2-0 lead inside 11 minutes of its semifinal with Colombia on Wednesday. Instead, Colombia gained a foothold. Combined with a half-time lightning storm that caused a delay of more than two hours and left the Soldier Field pitch deluged with rain, it meant an exuberant Chilean display turned into a solidly professional one, getting over the line.

More positives include that Vidal will be back from suspension and Marcelo Díaz quite possibly back from injury after the two influential midfielders missed the semifinal. The message is clear: this is a very different Chile to the one that was defeated by Argentina on June 6 in Santa Clara, California.

“The process that we have has been balanced. We had bad times, but with each passing match, the team has generated confidence and that allows them to perform at a level high,” Pizzi said after getting past Colombia.

Prediction: Last year’s final was a major disappointment, with both teams becoming not only cautious but afflicted by fatigue, producing a drab, goal-free 120 minutes. There is reason to believe Sunday will be different. Sure, both coaches will doubtless be aware of the opponent’s threats, but Argentina and Chile have played at their best in this competition, with intense pressing and breaking at lightning speed. There is the fact, too, that key players look fresher than 12 months ago. If both teams are close to their best, it should be Argentina that come out on top. More consistently impressive throughout the competition and with greater quality through its lineup and its squad, this could finally be Argentina’s time.

Predicted score: Argentina 2-1 Chile

Date: Sunday, June 26

Time: 8 p.m. EDT

Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

Argentina vs. Chile Final – Copa America Centenario Final Match Preview

Argentina vs. Chile
Copa America Centenario – Final
June 26 | 8 pm ET | MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
TV: FS1, Univision, UDN


One year on, and it seems little has changed in the South American soccer scene. Argentina and Chile, the No. 1 and No. 5-ranked teams in the world, will meet Sunday evening in the Copa America Centenario final, a re-match of the game that Chile took on penalty kicks back in July 2015. The game will also mark the second time the two teams have met, after Argentina took a 2-1 victoryfrom the teams’ group-stage encounter on June 6, the tournament opener for both sides.

You again!

When you consider the group-stage game last year’s final and a World Cup qualifying encounter between the two sides in March, a 2-1 win for Argentina, and it’s safe to say the two sides are probably sick of seeing each other.

It’ll be no issue for neutral fans, though, who were treated to some scintillating play from both sides in the group-stage game, and will once again get to see South America’s two most exciting teams battle it out. Being a tournament final, this one may be a more staid encounter than the frenetic meeting we saw when the teams met in California almost three weeks ago, but you can still expect to see some outstanding technical soccer played out over a tactically intriguing battle.

More Messi magic?

You didn’t think a mere knee in the back would stop Lionel Messi from being Lionel Messi, did you? The Barcelona superstar has re-asserted his status as one of the all-time greats with a five-goal, four-assist performance in the Copa America, capped off by his stunning free kick in Argentina’s 4-0 semifinal rout of the United States.

Chile must now come up with a plan to contain La Pulga, who has been given free reign to pop up anywhere on the field and wreak his unique brand of havoc. Luckily for La Roja, they will be welcoming back tenacious Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal, who was suspended for their semifinal win over Colombia. Vidal’s energy and fresh legs should be a big element for any plan to stop Messi, but the reality is that only an outstanding collective effort from the whole team is likely to hold up the four-time Ballon d’Or winner. And even if that happens, Chile will still have to contend with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero – only the leading scorer in Serie A last season and one of the best forwards in the Premier League.

Major misses

Though Messi has deservedly taken many of the plaudits this summer, winger Angel Di Maria has often been just as important to many of Argentina’s winning efforts, and has already scored two competitive goals against Chile this year, once in World Cup qualifying in March and again in the group-stage match between the two teams.

The only problem for Argentina? Di Maria’s status for the final is in serious doubt. He missed their win over the United States after suffering a muscle injury in the team’s group-stage win over Panama.

Di Maria will be far from the only injury miss for Argentina – Ezequiel Lavezzi is out of the tournament after suffering a broken elbow in a tumble over the advertising boards in the win against the United States. Midfielder Augusto Fernandez is also uncertain after picking up an injury against the US, and could be replaced by Lucas Biglia. Defender Marcos Rojo, midfielder Javier Pastore and winger Nicolas Gaitan (a possible Di Maria replacement) all trained separately from the team on Thursday but have not been ruled out:

Chile will also be short in midfield despite Vidal’s return, after Pablo Hernandez suffered a knee injury against Colombia. Marcelo Diaz, one of the best midfielders at the tournament, is also a fitness doubt for the final after picking up an injury in Chile’s quarterfinal win vs. Mexico and missing the semifinal, likely leaving Mexico-based midfielder Francisco Silva to take his place.