Last act tonight to define the champion of South America. Spotlight on the two stars on the hunt for an unreleased title. Clear ideas for Tite, Scaloni must instead resolve four doubts
The noblest final seasoned by the challenge between the two stars of the first magnitude. Brazil-Argentina, the last act of the 47th edition of the America’s Cup, is above all Messi against Neymar, both looking for a new title. Tonight’s challenge at the Maracana (kick-off at 2, Italian time) inevitably passes from the feet and plays of the two champions who are looking for the first weight triumph in the national team after having won everything at the club level. Objective in the Albiceleste home: return to raise a trophy after 28 years of fasting, at the same time debunking the taboo of the four finals lost in a row between the Copa America and the World Cup. Brazil, on the other hand, aims to consolidate the continental supremacy of the last decade marked by seven finals in the last eleven editions.
Tonight’s will be the 107th clasico between the two South American superpowers, with a balance slightly in favor of Brazil (43 wins to 38), but it is only the fifth final in history: the first dates back to the South American Championship of ’37 (Argentine success ), then green-gold “hat-trick” in 2004, 2007 (in the America’s Cup) and 2005 (in the Confederations Cup). The last Argentine Cup triumph dates back to 1993 (also at the time victory in the semifinals against Colombia), while Brazil in the meantime has added five cups to their showcase, reaching the threshold of the “tenth”. The Albiceleste will have the fourth opportunity (after the finals lost in 2007, 2015 and 2016) to try to reach Uruguay with 15 titles. Brazil are unbeaten in official matches from the knockout to the quarter-finals of the last World Cup against Belgium, while the last defeat of the Albiceleste dates back to the previous America’s Cup, in the semifinal, at the hands of the Seleçao. The positive streak of Tite, counting only the official commitments, has reached 18 useful results in a row, while Scaloni is at 13, confirming the excessive power exercised at the continental level by the two historical rivals. For the Seleçao there is also to defend an unbeaten run at the Maracana that has lasted since 1998, the date of the last defeat (coincidentally) against Albiceleste.
Challenge between stars
Everything will inevitably revolve around Messi and Neymar, who so far have not betrayed expectations: both arrive at the last round loaded with numbers and performances from the top of their class and, according to many, are offering the best versions of themselves with their respective national teams. . Argentina have so far enjoyed a Messi never so decisive with four goals and five assists (direct participation in nine of the eleven goals scored by Albiceleste). In support of a terrific tournament, the Argentine is also ready to update the record book reaching Zizinho and Livingstone at the top of the ranking of players with the most appearances (34). But there is much more up for grabs for the Pulce: there is that first title in the albiceleste jersey faded four times in the final, moreover in the same stage in which the greatest disappointment in his career took place, the knockout in the world final against Germany. At the age of 34, Messi probably has the last chance to ascend the throne of the continent (which Maradona could not) and thus pin the coveted first albiceleste medal to his chest. A mission, that of the Pulce, which coincides with that of Neymar, also chasing the first weight triumph with the Seleçao after the Olympic gold in 2016 and the Confederations Cup in 2013 (which both arrived at the Maracana). It will be the fifth face to face between the two friends and former partners, with a balance so far in perfect equality (2-2), but it is the first time that there is a trophy at stake. Messi arrives at the appointment as top scorer of the tournament (4 goals), with the highest number of assists (5) and the undisputed first place in the count of successful dribbles, passes completed, opportunities created and shots attempted. Figures that in any case do not scare Neymar, who launched into optimistic predictions. “I wanted Argentina because there will be more pleasure in winning. I have no doubts that we will win ”, Ney ruled, anticipating Richarlison’s certainties (“ it will be tough, but we will be the champions ”).
President Bolsonaro went even further, showing off his usual amount of bravado: “I already know the result”, he said on the sidelines of the last Mercosur summit, “it will end 5-0 for us”. He does not have the same certainties as Tite who, despite his optimism and confidence, has yet to dissolve two training doubts: one on the left, where Lodi is the favorite over an Alex Sandro still not recovered at 100% after the muscular problems that have him. locked in the knockout stage, the other up front, where Everton is favored to play deputy Gabriel Jesus (suspended). More doubts in the Albiceleste home, where Scaloni is grappling with ballots in practically every department: behind uncertainty about who will have to guard the side lanes and the possible return of Romero (difficult), while in the middle of the usual Rodriguez-Paredes relay. Also to be defined the third component in attack next to Messi and Lautaro: at the moment it seems Di Maria is the favorite over Gonzalez. Probably 4-3-3 for Brazil with Ederson, Danilo, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Lodi, Casemiro, Fred, Paquetà, Neymar, Everton and Richarlison. Scaloni will instead draw a 4-2-3-1 that should see Martinez, Montiel, Pezzella, Otamendi, Tagliafico, Paredes, Lo Celso, De Paul, Messi, Di Maria and Lautaro as protagonists.
July 10, 2021 (change July 10, 2021 | 13:58)
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