There is a no bigger battle to watch than two South American titans in the form of Argentina and Brazil colliding with each other to crown themselves kings of the continent in the showpiece final of the 2021 Copa America. The legendary Maracana stadium will host one of the most iconic football rivalry and one of the oldest in world football to add another page to its long exemplary history.
Holders Brazil are competing in the successive final of the Copa America having won the showpiece nine times only behind Argentina (14) and the record holders Uruguay (15). Argentina, on their part, are competing in their fifth final in the last six editions yet they haven't won it since 1993. Lionel Messi has featured in two of those in 2015 & 16 successively but left empty-handed. Neymar is in his first Copa America final missing out on the entire last edition of the tournament due to an ankle injury. Both are playing in this final without losing a game.
Argentina ended up in this stage as group winners, winning three and drawing two, from South Zone. La Albiceleste then demolished Ecuador in the quarterfinals before overcoming Colombia in a penalty shootout. After a Lautaro Martinez opener was canceled out by Luis Diaz in normal time, Emiliano Martinez stepped up to save two crucial spot-kicks in the shootout to send his nation through. Argentina have offered a composed football with the right balance in attack and defense throughout the tournament. Although some defensive fragilities remain they want to win the cup this time out.
Brazil's tale has been rather similar but they have sailed smoothly into the finals. Winning all but one in the tournament so far and with two Lucas Paqueta strikes in the knockout rounds sealing the deal for them. Most importantly, the yellow shirts have conceded only two goals, keeping clean sheets in four games out of six and have hardly put a foot wrong. Brazil are a brilliant side full of attacking talent, robust midfield and solidity at the back. So they are obviously hopeful to lift another title. Although, complacency is dangerous to any ambition.
Argentina vs Brazil Match Details :
When: Saturday, July 10 / Sunday, July 11
Timings: 05:30 (IST)/ 21:00 (local)
Where: Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
Recent Form (Copa America) :
Last 5 games
ARG vs BRA Dream11 Team News :
Argentina will name an unchanged eleven from the Colombia game in the semifinals with Alejandro Gomez stepping in benching Nicolas Gonzalez. Angel Di Maria offers a lot with his class and is also an option for coach Lionel Scaloni to try out on the left-hand side. The back four remain constant with 30-year-old German Pezzella once again partnering Nicolas Otamendi in the heart of Argentina's defense. De Paul, Paredes and Lo Celso are the automatic choices in the midfield. Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez have a combination of seven goals for La Albiceleste, the former being the top scorer in the tournament so far. In fact, Alejandro Gomez is the third-best scorer on the list dominated by Argentinian forwards.
Brazil are without Gabriel Jesus as the Manchester City forward serves his two-match ban after his red card in the quarterfinals. Lucas Paqueta, in red hot scoring form, will continue to be in the starting eleven in place of him. Paqueta bagged two goals in the last two games proving to be winning strikes on road to the final. He is a member of the attacking trio with Richarlison and Everton to supply Neymar to do his business in the final third. Alex Sandro has recovered from a minor injury issue to start the game as usual. Ederson remains in between the sticks amidst rotation for Tite seems to prefer over Alisson in the knockout rounds. The experienced duo of Marquinhos and Thiago Silva will start in the final after teaming up in the knockout stages as well for the Selecao.
Argentina vs Brazil Predicted Lineups :
Argentina: Emiliano Martinez; Nahuel Molina, German Pezzella, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Acuna, Rodrigo De Paul, Leonardo Paredes, Lo Celso, Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Alejandro Gomez
Brazil: Ederson; Danilo, Marquinhos, Silva, Alex Sandro, Fred, Casemiro, Richarlison, Lucas Paqueta, Everton, Neymar
Argentina vs Brazil Head to Head :
Brazil and Argentina share a fiery rivalry yet they have not been in title deciding situations often. Both of them met in the showpiece of the Copa America last time in 2007. La Canarinha destroyed their rivals in a 3-0 scoreline that day with Julio Baptista and a certain Dani Alves scoring on either side of a Roberto Ayala's own goal. Brazil were even more destructive in 2004 when a Adriano brace followed by strikes from Ronaldinho and Kaka gave them a 4-1 victory. Argentina have also won only twice in last seven games against Brazil, a miserable record they want to overturn for the sake of it.
ARG vs BRA Dream11 Team Prediction :
GK: Emiliano Martinez (Arg)
DEF: Danilo (Bra), German Pezzella (Arg), Marquinhos (Bra), Marcos Acuna (Arg)
MID: Rodrigo De Paul (Arg), Fred (Bra), Casemiro (Bra), Lucas Paqueta (Bra)
FW: Lionel Messi (Arg), Neymar (Bra)
Emiliano Martinez's heroics in the shootout against Colombia showed the quality he has in him and his excellence in safeguarding the Argentinian net makes him the best goalkeeper in the tournament. Additionally, he has kept four clean sheets in five games so far. German Pezzella's dominance at the back has helped Argentina stabilize a lot defensively and he is poised to do the same in the showpiece final. Rodrigo De Paul is reportedly joining Atletico Madrid in the summer and his quality speaks for itself on the pitch. He is accompanied by the best midfield pair of Fred and Casemiro in the tournament. Lucas Paqueta mezzala role has provided Brazil another attacking option to feed the forwards and also popping up goal for himself. Messi is leading the top scorer and assist chart means he is almost certain to win both of them. Neymar is yet to score in the knockout rounds but has provided crucial assists to his nation's goals leading up to the final. Eyes of the universe will be on both of them as one of them emerge victorious.
Match Prediction: Brazil 1-1 Argentina (Brazil win on penalties)
A final of such calibre is hard to predict and bounded by uncertainties. The best two nations of South American football not necessarily put up a crazy fight in the showpiece with the prime objective being to play it safe. There is no reason to deny that the result of this final will come down to penalties and Brazil may just about edge Argentina. This time La Albiceleste are a more refined side capable of playing effective football but unfortunately for Lionel Messi, he has to wait again for his international trophy hunt. Brazil is too good a side with tournament-winning experience and will claim back-to-back Copa America titles on their home soil.