Chile vs Argentina | Saturday 04 July | Santiago de Chile | 22:00
Red-hot Chile will take on free-scoring Argentina in Santiago on Saturday night in the final of the 2015 Copa America. Chile have never won this tournament despite this being their fifth time in the final, but with this side dubbed the ‘Golden Generation’ they certainly have a good chance to change their history. On the other hand, the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, will be looking to win his first major trophy for his nation and is favourite to do so. Chile will need to overcome a poor head-to-head record that has seen them win just once in their last 28 matches against Argentina dating back to 1973.
To Win (90mins)
To Lift the Cup
Chile have been phenomenal having won five of their last six matches, beginning with their warm up match in preparation of the 2015 Copa America where they ousted El Salvador in Vina del Mar with Jorge Valdivia scoring the only goal of the match. In their opening game of the tournament, they overcame the physical battle of Ecuador to win 2-0 in Santiago. Arturo Vidal converted a penalty before Alexis Sanchez played in Eduardo Vargas to seal the win late in the game. Then came a thrilling 3-3 draw against Mexico with Vidal and Vargas again scoring the goals. In their final group game, La Roja were in a showboating mood as they thrashed Bolivia 5-0 with Charles Aranguiz netting a brace and Sanchez finally getting on the scoresheet. Chile then came up against Uruguay in a hard-fought and highly-charged contest in the quarter-final. For eighty torturous minutes, Chile tied Uruguay in knots without being able to pin them down. But, as the prospect of penalties loomed large on the smoggy Santiago horizon, Mauricio Isla scored the only goal of the match when he fired home from fifteen yards to keep alive the host nation’s dream of a maiden title. In the semi-final, Chile beat ten-man Peru 2-1 thanks to a superb brace from Vargas which took him to the top of the scoring charts in the competition. Jorge Sampaoli’s men have never won the tournament but have been the runner-up on four different occasions. However, this is a very complete squad with no real weaknesses. On Saturday, Sanchez will become Chile's most capped outfield player and the Arsenal Footballer of the Year will be hoping to mark the occasion with his first grandstand performance of the competition. There is not a great deal of pace in Argentina's defensive unit and they will surely struggle to stop Sanchez in full flow.
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Argentina are unbeaten in 2015 having won seven of their eight matches played and are gunning for their first international trophy since 1993. Argentina’s run of form started against El Salvador who they beat 2-0, before beating Ecuador 2-1 with both matches being played in the United States. In their final warm up match, they hammered Bolivia 5-0 with Sergio Aguero netting a hat-trick and Angel Di Maria bagging a brace. In the tournament, Argentina were drawn in Group B, where they finished first. After a slightly stunning 2-2 draw with Paraguay having lead 2-0, they beat Uruguay 1-0 and Jamaica 1-0. In the quarter-finals they were dragged to a 0-0 draw by Colombia but won in a penalty shootout and destroyed Paraguay in the semi-final with a 6-1 victory. Highlighted by the likes of Messi, Aguero, Di Maria and Javier Mascherano, the side coached by Gerard Martino features a free-wheeling attack paired with a midfield that can grind you into a fine paste. If Argentina turn it on like they did against Paraguay, they’ll be difficult to contain, especially with Messi, Aguero and Di Maria all potentially running riot. Messi is a step closer to finally breaking through with Argentina. The Barcelona star heads into the Copa America final with a chance to end his nation's 22-year title drought and prove that he can replicate his club-level success with the national team.
VERDICT: Argentina 21/20
Argentina have a second chance in a year to lift a trophy after losing 2-1 to Germany in last year’s World Cup final. La Albiceleste showed exactly what they’re capable of when they hit Paraguay for six last time out and will enter the finale in full confidence. The stage is set for Messi to finally win a trophy for his nation and given Chile’s terrible record against La Albiceleste, Argentina are tipped for glory at 21/20.