It doesn’t get better than this for football fans. Neymar and Lionel Messi go up against each other for the Copa America title their shadows and influence looming large on two nations Brazil and Argentina. Preview | News
The bigger contest on Saturday at Maracana Stadium will be between one of the toughest defensive lines and the protection around one of the best players in history.
Brazil have conceded only two goals in six matches at the Copa America. Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Eder Militao have been livewires on the field while defensive midfielders Casemiro and Fred have been relentless. Right-back Danilo and left-back Renan Lodi are keener to defend than go running up front.
They will be up against Messi who has scored four times and provided five assists, clearly giving the best defenders in the world a headache.
"The zone where Messi plays is where I play, we face each other a lot during matches," Casemiro said, "I can't mark any player by myself, you need teammates. And you don't mark only one player. It starts with Neymar, Richarlison and it ends in the goalkeeper — a team plays with 11, defends with 11 and attacks with 11."
Argentina have found a formula to protect Messi, who now at age 34 plays much closer to the final third of the pitch. Midfielders Rodrigo de Paul and Giovani Lo Celso, notably creative players, are selflessly adding to a barrier around Messi. Although they still manage to give good passes to aggressive wingers Lautaro Martinez and Nico Gonzalez.
Messi is playing Barcelona-style for his national team, scoring from free kicks, dazzling adversaries with frequent runs despite his age and giving plenty of passes. Messi is dreaming of winning his first major title with Argentina, which hasn't won major trophies in 28 years.
"Messi is one step ahead of all of us," De Paul said before the penalty shootout win against Colombia in the semifinals, “One is here to grow, to help. We are all on the same path. What matters is to win and represent Argentina well." (with inputs from Agencies)
The two sides have met 111 times with Brazil having won 46 matches. There have been 25 draws. Argentina has won 40 matches. The last time two sides met in 2019 Cop America, Brazil won 2-0.
Brazil team news
Brazil have no major injury concerns as of now but are missing a vital player Gabriel Jesus due to suspension.
Argentina team news
Messi played the previous match with a bleeding ankle and fans will be hoping that he is fit and available for the Sunday’s big clash.
Match and telecast details
Match: Copa America 2021, final match between Argentina and Brazil
Date: July 11 (Sunday), 2021
Time: 5:30 AM IST/ 10:00 PM local (Tuesday)
Venue: Maracana -- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
TV Channels: Sony Sports Network (SONY TEN 2 HD and SONY TEN 2 SD TV)
Live Streaming: SonyLIV, Jio TV
Find your local broadcasters HERE.
Argentina: Emiliano Martinez; Gonzalo Montiel, German Pezzella, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Acuna; Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes, Exequiel Palacios; Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria.
Brazil: Alisson Becker; Danilo, Eder Militao, Marquinhos, Alex Sandro; Casemiro, Lucas Pacqueta; Roberto Firmino, Richarlison, Neymar; Gabriel Barbosa.
Argentina: GK - Franco Armani, Agustin Marchesin, Emiliano Martinez, Juan Musso; DF - Lucas Martínez Quarta, Nicolas Tagliafico, Gonzalo Montiel, German Pezzella, Marcos Acuna, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Lisandro Martinez, Nahuel Molina; MF - Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul, Angel Di Maria, Exequiel Palacios, Nicolas Dominguez, Guido Rodriguez, Giovani Lo Celso; FW - Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi (captain), Joaquin Correa, Angel Correa, Lautaro Martinez, Alejandro Gomez, Julian Alvarez.
Head coach: Lionel Scaloni
Brazil: GK - Alisson Becker, Weverton, Ederson; DF - Danilo, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Alex Sandro, Emerson, Eder Militao, Renan Lodi, Felipe; MF - Casemiro, Fred, Everton Ribeiro, Fabinho, Lucas Paqueta, Douglas Luiz; FW - Richarlison, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar, Vinicius Junior, Everton, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Barbosa.
Head coach: Tite