Messi Ready to Claim Revenge?
Copa América final fantasy football preview: Argentina v Chile
The final of the Copa América takes place on Sunday night and it will be a fascinating rematch of the 2015 final, which saw Chile beat Argentina on penalties following a 0-0 draw.
Argentina are therefore out for revenge and Gerardo Martino’s men are looking to take the next step after reaching a third final in the last three years.
Defeat to Chile in last year’s final came a year after Argentina were beaten 1-0 by Germany in the final of the 2014 World Cup and it is now 23 years since Argentina lifted an international trophy.
Lionel Messi, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday, is running out of time to enjoy international glory with his country and it has already been a momentous tournament for the Argentina captain.
Messi has been closing in on the goalscoring record of Gabriel Batistuta for some time and a glorious free-kick against United States in the semi-final took Messi to 55 goals for Argentina, passing Bati’s haul and setting a new record.
However, the final is not just all about Argentina, who were perhaps guilty of underestimating Chile in last year’s showpiece. A 7-0 win against Mexico in the quarter-final laid down a marker and Chile kept another clean sheet in the semis, beating Colombia 2-0 to book a final place.
Argentina v Chile head-to-head
Chile have only ever beaten Argentina seven times throughout history, with Argentina coming out on top 2-1 in the most recent meeting, which was right at the start of this year’s Copa América. The victory could be key for Argentina in putting last year’s final to bed, while Argentina have only lost twice to Chile since 1973, further boosting their hopes of victory on Sunday.
But last year’s final will give Chile hope. They held Argentina to a 0-0 draw and took the match to a penalty shoot-out, with Matías Fernández stepping up to put Chile ahead with the first kick.
Messi equalised but after Arturo Vidal converted, Gonzalo Higuaín put his shot over the crossbar. Éver Banega then saw his penalty saved by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, allowing Alexis Sánchez to chip in a glorious Panenka-style penalty to send his nation into unbound ecstasy.
Argentina fantasy players to watch
Packing the squad with Argentina players will be very tempting for Copa América fantasy football players, but a careful mix between the two nations may be the best plan. Messi will be top of the list for a lot of players and he has scored five goals at the finals already, despite missing the start of the tournament as a result of a back injury.
Messi will be the most expensive player in Copa América fantasy football, but this is a player who delivers on the big stages and he could be worth every single virtual penny in the game.
Higuaín has also had a very good tournament on the back of a terrific Serie A season with Napoli and he has scored braces in each of the last two matches at the Copa América, justifying his selection over Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero.
Agüero could win a place in the side for the final as Ezequiel Lavezzi broke his elbow in the semi-final when he fell over the advertising boards against United States, with Ángel Di María also competing for a start as he has fully recovered from an abductor problem in time for the final.
Chile fantasy players to watch
Chile have kept back-to-back clean sheets, so their captain Bravo could be a solid fantasy football selection for those backing Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men to retain their title in this year’s final. However, Argentina have kept three clean sheets in their five games at the Copa América.
Arturo Vidal missed the semi-final through suspension but the combative midfielder is back for the final and he hit a double against Bolivia earlier in the competition, while Eduardo Vargas has hit six goals in the competition, making him the top goalscorer in the competition, although all of those strikes came against either Mexico or Panama.
Sánchez scored the decisive penalty for Chile last year and after a slow start to the Copa he has found form in recent games, scoring three goals in his last three appearances.
Gary Medel is a risky selection that could pay off, as his disciplinary record is dodgy, but he has the potential to record big fantasy football points if Chile lift the trophy.