Brazil, Argentina Go for Broke in Copa America Final
The Maracana will play host to a thrilling clash on Sunday, as host nation, Brazil and Argentina do battle in the final of this year’s Copa America.
With both sides steeped in history in this competition, Brazil will aim to win the trophy for the 10th time, while their opponents would add a 15th Copa America title to their trophy cabinet with a win.
The hosts will aim to retain the title on home turf after triumphing in 2019, while Lionel Scaloni’s men go in search of their first piece of major silverware since the turn of the century.
Brazil came into this year’s edition of the Copa America with major expectations as the pretournament favourites, and they got off to a strong start in the group stage with three consecutive wins.
The Selecao started with a 3-0 victory over Venezuela and a 4-0 thrashing of Peru, before they had to show a different side to their game to defeat Colombia.
Their opponents took an early lead through Luis Diaz, and Tite’s men had to dig deep in their pursuit of an equaliser, finally drawing level in the 78th minute through Roberto Firmino before Casemiro headed in a corner in the 10th minute of added time to claim their third straight win and make the gap at the top the group insurmountable for the chasing pack.
The defending champions were unable to finish the group stage with a perfect record, though, drawing 1-1 with Ecuador in the final game as Angel Mena drew La Tricolor level after Eder Militao opened the scoring for Brazil.
Their first-placed finish saw Tite’s men handed a quarter-final tie with Group A’s fourth-placed side, although that was a particularly tough draw as the Selecao would take on Chile in Rio de Janeiro.
Lucas Paqueta put Brazil ahead in the first two minutes of the second half, but a red card to Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus two minutes later meant they had to defend a narrow lead with 10 men for 40 minutes.
They would stand strong to keep a clean sheet and progress to the final four, and Peru awaited Tite’s side.
Paqueta again made the difference in that game, scoring in the 35th minute to give Brazil their second consecutive 1-0 win and book their place in Sunday’s final.
The Selecao now head into their 21st Copa America final with high expectations, having won nine of those, including the 2019 edition of the tournament.
That tournament again took place in Brazil, and the hosts defeated a resilient Peru side 3-1 in the final as Everton, Jesus and Richarlison got on the scoresheet.
Brazil will now hope for a repeat of that outcome on Sunday, as they aim to retain the title on home turf two years later.
They take on an Argentina side who will look to end a 28-year drought in this tournament with a win at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday.
La Albiceleste had somewhat of a contrasting group campaign to their final opponents, having drawn their opening game before growing into the tournament.
Scaloni’s side were held to a 1-1 draw by Chile in their first outing, as Eduardo Vargas drew La Roja level on the hour mark after Lionel Messi netted a pinpoint free kick in the first half.
They quickly started a winning run after that, though, picking up crucial 1-0 victories over Paraguay and fellow group favourites Uruguay in the following matches.
Argentina then finished the group campaign with a 4-1 thrashing of strugglers Bolivia, as Messi hit a brace in between goals from Alejandro Gomez and Lautaro Martinez.
Having comfortably topped their group, La Albiceleste were drawn against Ecuador in the quarter-final, and they picked up another dominant win as Rodrigo De Paul got on the scoresheet before goals from Martinez and Messi sealed a 3-0 victory.
Colombia then awaited Scaloni’s side in the semi-final, with a much closer game following as the tie went to a penalty shootout as Luis Diaz levelled the game at 1-1 on the hour mark after Martinez’s early opener.
La Albiceleste prevailed in the shootout, as Emiliano Martinez denied Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Edwin Cardona while Messi, Martinez and Leandro Paredes all made no mistake from 12 yards.
That saw them reach the Copa America final for the 29th time, having most recently got to the big stage in 2016, when they fell to a defeat in a penalty shootout at the hands of Chile.