Bravo's Chile and Messi and Mascherano's Argentina contest Copa América final

Bravo's Chile and Messi and Mascherano's Argentina contest Copa América final

After winning the treble with FC Barcelona, the challenge for these players is to top a wonderful season with the coveted South American title

There is plenty of Barça interest in today’s Copa América final at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, and no matter what happens, it’s going to be a Barça player who collects the trophy after the match. Leo Messi and Claudio Bravo are the captains of Argentina and Chile, the two sides have made it through to the decisive match.

Argentina also have Javier Mascherano in their team for a game that kicks off at 10.00pm CET. The beaten finalists at the Brazil 2014 World Cup, managed by former FCB boss 'Tata' Martino, are looking to win their first full international title for 22 years, while victory would also be their 15th of all time, which would bring them level with Uruguay at the top of the all-time ranking.

Chile, meanwhile, are playing in front of their home fans and there is huge expectation ahead of the game as the country seeks to win the South American championship for the first time ever. They have been the losing finalists on four occasions in the past, the last time in 1987, but victory has so far eluded them.

Chile fearless

All that could change thanks to one of the finest generations of Chilean footballers ever. A compact unit features Claudio Bravo in goal and the likes of Medel, former FCB striker Alexis Sánchez, Arturo Vidal and the top scorer in the competition, Eduardo Vargas (four goals) in front of him.

Manager Jorge Sampaoli insists that he’ll be sticking to the same system that has served him so well on the way to the final, beating Uruguay and Peru in the knockout stages. “The team will do everything they can” he says. “Afterwards we’ll be able to analyse whether we got what we wanted or not. But the way we play is not going to change”.

Argentina expects

Argentina are looking to win the Copa America for the first time since 1993. They have played in two finals since then, in 2004 and 2007, but lost both times to Brazil.

The ‘albiceleste’ have the luxury of a young but extraordinarily experienced side, led by the greatest player on the planet, the incredible Leo Messi. The Barça superstar has won the Olympics and the U20 World Cup for his country, but has yet to win any silverware at full international level. Tonight all that could change and the title would be the perfect way to crown what has been yet another remarkable season for the striker

Javier Mascherano is another key element of the Argentina team that also has such top quality players as Garay, Marcos Rojo, Agüero and Di María. Argentina have never lost to Chile at the Copa America. Previous meetings have ended in 18 wins and 6 draws. Those games included the 1955 final in the same stadium where today’s game is being played, and which ended in 1-0 victory for Argentina. Will history be repeated tonight, or has Chile’s moment finally arrived? A great final awaits and the best thing of all is that whatever the outcome, FC Barcelona will have reason to celebrate!

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