It’s a rematch of the round one matchup between Argentina and Chile, but more importantly it’s the rematch of last year’s Copa América final. For Argentina, it’s their third major tournament final in as many years. For Chile, it’s their chance to defend their crown against the best team in the world. Last year’s final went scoreless, with Chile winning in penalties, but both attacks are flying high at the moment. Chile put seven goals past Mexico and scored two in the first fifteen minutes against Colombia. Argentina has scored multiple goals in every game, including five against Panama and four in the quarterfinal against Venezuela and semifinal against the United States.
Their earlier group stage match finished 2-1 in favor of Argentina, a match the La Albiceleste dominated at a high pace and with a little extra quality. Chile managed to grab a goal at the death by taking advantage of overly aggressive goalkeeping by Sergio Romero on a free kick. Angel di Maria, who scored in the group stage against Chile and has missed all but forty minutes of the tournament since with an injury, will be available for the final according to FourFourTwo. Starting may be a little too much too quickly for him, but if Argentina needs an impact sub later into the game, a creative player like di Maria would help create more chances. The goat from the last two major finals Argentina has played in, Gonzalo Higuain, who missed a sitter against Germany in Rio and blasted his penalty over during the shootout in Santiago, is coming off of the best club season of his life, and the best for any goalscorer in Italy and has finally found his form in Copa América with two goals in each of his last two games.
On Chile’s side, Arturo Vidal sat out the semifinal through suspension and will be fresher for this match. Eduardo Vargas has six goals in his last three matches and Alexis Sanchez has three of his own over that period. Claudio Bravo finally came up big for Chile against Colombia after a couple howlers earlier in the tournament. If Chile is going to have a chance to win this match, they need a big performance from their captain, and they have to attack his opposite number. Sergio Romero is not a goalkeeper that will carry his team. Before his move to Manchester United, the biggest club that he appeared regularly for was AZ Alkamaar of the Netherlands, and he only played at the beginning of the season for Manchester United because of David De Gea’s Real Madrid transfer saga and Louis Van Gaal’s falling out with former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes. Most of the matches he played at club level recently were with the Manchester United U-21s. He was at fault for the goal Chile scored earlier in the tournament and conceded a penalty because of his over-aggressiveness in goal. He has talent, but is also mistake prone, and if the match is close one, the likelier goalkeeper to make a game deciding mistake is Romero, not Bravo.
Both teams have injury concerns at center midfield, for Argentina Augusto Fernandez, and for Chile Marcelo Diaz and Pedro Hernandez. But the deciding factor in this game will no doubt be Lionel Messi. He missed the first group stage match but has lit up the tournament since with five goals and four assists. Fans in the United States were excited to see him play, and they have been rewarded so far. If Messi rewards them again, Argentina should end their title drought.
Argentina: Romero; Rojo, Otamendi, Funes Mori, Mercado; Banega, Mascherano, Biglia; Gaitan, Higuain, Messi