After Claudio Bravo got off to a winning start at the Copa America with Chile against Ecuador, Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano will be hoping to do likewise against Paraguay on Saturday (11.30pm CET) in the city of La Serena, Chile. The duo joined the squad on Tuesday, fresh from winning the treble with their club. “It would be a dream to win the title with Argentina” said Messi. “This group deserves it and we’re still reeling from the World Cup. But I am in better condition for the Copa America than I was last summer.”
Argentina are always one of the favourites to win South America’s biggest international prize, but there is a long road ahead, and it all starts with a four-team group that in addition to Paraguay, also includes defending champions Uruguay and guest nation Jamaica.
Former FCB boss Tata Martino is now the man in charge of Argentina, who have not won an international title since the Copa America of 1993 in Ecuador. Of course, they came very close to winning the Brazil 2014 World Cup, but lost 1-0 to Germany in the final.
And Martino certainly has the team to do it. This Argentinian team is by no means only about Messi and Mascherano. He can also count on the services of Juventus striker Carlos Tévez, and other household names like Di María, Sergio Agüero, Pastore and Zabaleta. It’s a fine mix of youth and experience, and the first hurdle is the beaten finalist from the previous edition of the Copa, Paraguay, who under Ramón Díaz are currently going through a major restructuring process in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers. His top players include Roque Santa Cruz, Paulo Da Silva, Justo Villar, Néstor Ortigoza and Lucas Barrios.
|Argentina v Paraguay||13 June||11.30 pm|
|Argentina v Uruguay||17 June||01.30 am|
|Argentina v Jamaica||20 June||11.30 pm|