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This edition of the Copa America has largely failed to ignite with the backdrop providing almost as many talking points as the on-field action.
The format has largely been to blame with 20 games during the group stage eliminating just two teams, but there is hope that the final can deliver a worthy spectacle with Neymar and Lionel Messi seeking their first piece of silverware with their respective national sides.
The last time these two met in the final came in 2007, which was the first of four disappointments Messi has suffered with Argentina, also missing out on penalties to Chile in the 2015 and 2016 editions, as well as the 2014 World Cup final to Mario Götze’s extra-time strike.
Meanwhile, Neymar suffered injury in that same World Cup before his teammates were eliminated and humiliated, while injury saw him miss their 2019 Copa America triumph.
Neymar has never actually lost an international game in Brazil, while Messi is yet to be on the winning side against the Selecao in a competitive outing. However, beyond the two star men, there are further encouraging signs for hosts Brazil.
Tite’s men come into this fixture in pulsating form, winning 12 of their last 13 unbeaten matches as the exception came in their final group game as they rested the core of the team.
In fact, they’ve lost just once in 35 competitive matches (W28-D6-L1) and have been even more dominant on home turf.
Brazil To Beat Argentina
They’ve won 20 of 24 unbeaten competitive home games since 2015, with 15 of them coming by a minimum two-goal margin, while the last 20 competitive outings on their own patch have seen them concede just three goals.
We wouldn’t be entirely confident of another clean sheet given the form Messi has displayed this summer, providing four goals and five assists.
However, history would suggest it’s a distinct possibility, with at least one team failing to score in four of the last five Copa America finals.
Moreover, at least one team has failed to register in all five head-to-heads between Brazil and Argentina since 2016, with the last four meetings producing just four goals in total.
Only one of the past 11 clashes between Brazil and Argentina have ended in a stalemate, while Brazil have won seven of eight unbeaten matches hosting Argentina since 1999, scoring at least twice in each victory.
The favourites have also won five of the past nine editions of the Copa America, scoring exactly three times in all but one of those triumphs.
Argentina have reached the final of the World Cup, Copa America or Confederations Cup seven times since 1995, failing to lift the trophy on every occasion, which includes four of the last six editions of this tournament alone.
With that in mind, it’s understandable that Brazil start as strong favourites to land back-to-back titles on home turf.