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Lionel Messi has played a fundamental role in Argentina’s march to the Copa America final, on Sunday 11 July at 2:00 am CEST against host nation Brazil, with future team-mate Emerson Royal among his possible opponents. This will be Messi’s fourth final, but thus far he has never won the trophy.
Argentina have not been crowned South American champions since they won back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1993, but with Messi leading things on the pitch and his namesake Lionel Scaloni masterminding affairs from the side-lines, the plan is to put an end to all those years of hurt in Rio on Sunday.
Messi has been outstanding in the four group games and two knockout games that Argentina have navigated on their way to the final.
Most valuable player
He scored a fabulous free kick in the opener against Chile, and has gone on to play a role in nine of his team’s goals: converting four himself and providing the passes for another five, both of which are the top marks for the tournament.
He also leads the Copa America for dribbles, passes in the final third and chances created. Of course, none of this has gone unnoticed and he has been named official man of the match no fewer than four times.
So near but so far
Messi’s years of frustration at the Copa America began in 2007, when Brazil were just too good in the final, winning 3-0 in Caracas.
In 2011, Argentina went out in the quarter finals, but in the following two editions, 2015 and 2016, they reached final, only to lose on both occasions to Chile, and twice on penalties following 0-0 draws.
Argentina lost to Brazil in the semi-finals of the most recent Copa America, 2019, and now the teams are set to meet again. It means that although he was won the U20 World Cup and the Olympics with his country, Messi is still looking to win his first senior international honour. That could be about to change…
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