The 2015 Copa America champion will be decided on Saturday evening as tournament hosts Chile seek to send favourites Argentina packing from Santiago trophyless.
Two of South America’s best and brightest have fought through adversity to reach the Estadio Nacional, but Argentina’s 6-1 semi-final rout of Paraguay would see them enter the final in higher spirits.
Read on for full preview of Saturday’s closing encounter, along with details of where and when to watch this year’s Copa America crescendo.
Date: Saturday, July 4
Time: 9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET
Venue: Estadio Nacional, Santiago
Live Stream: beIN Sports Connect (U.S.)
Chile Hoping Home Advantage Works Wonders
More so now than ever, the throngs of home fans in Santiago must back La Roja and help instil the belief they are capable of moving mountains, because the foe opposite them is a daunting one indeed.
La Albiceleste showed with a demolition of would-be dark horses Paraguay just how devastating they can be when firing on all cylinders, with Lionel Messi one particularly important cog in their machine.
Up until now, not all Chile’s attacking weapons have been working at their optimum, with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez one of those yet to really hit his stride. The final is the opportune moment to change that.
There has been talk of Chile being granted an easier path to the Santiago final, but Bleacher Report’s Tim Vickery writes to dispel that myth, with the greatest task now in front of Jorge Sampaoli‘s side:
If they’re to beat Argentina, Chile will most certainly require some stroke of fortune to go along with whatever success they conjure on the pitch, but then that’s part and parcel of the Copa America.After all, Argentina had their chance to take a certain other major title in Brazil last year before finding themselves nullified at German hands, with Chile now hoping the Estadio Nacional can have a similarly intimidating effect.
Argentina’s Brawn Takes On Chilean Brains
However, one would be inclined to agree with the notion that it’s Argentina chief Gerardo Martino who possesses the more potent attacking threats, with Messi, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain backing up Aguero.
Sampaoli showed a global audience at the 2014 World Cup the tactical ingenuity his Chile side possess, but we perhaps haven’t seen as glamorous a side of it this year.
This is particularly true in defence, with La Roja conceding three goals to Mexico early on in the competition and being exposed by Peru in the semi-finals. However, Portugal coach Fernando Santos has provided Sampaoli with some advice on how to beat the Argentinians, per Chilean newspaper El Mercurio (h/t Goal’s Tom Webber):
Argentina is a very strong opponent, they have great players. To win, you have to play the perfect match and have a little luck.
You cannot mark [Messi] man to man, because the only thing you gain is a problem. He is so good that he always finds a way of having more freedom.
It is better to use zonal marking … you have to prevent him from receiving the ball.
A midfield trio of Marcelo Diaz, Vidal and Charles Aranguiz may be up to the task of taking on Messi and Co., but Martino possesses vast resources up front that will prove hard to exhaust.
David Cartlidge of beIN Sports noted earlier in the competition that superior teams could expose Chile as the contest progresses, with Argentina as likely as any to pick holes:
Although they currently sit as the tournament’s top scorers, Chile’s main concern will lie in restraining Argentina first and doing their own damage second.Should the hosts be caught early on, they may find themselves at risk of being torn to shreds in a manner not dissimilar to that of the recently departed Paraguay.