Lionel Messi's quest for a winner's medal with his country faces an almighty hurdle in the early hours of tomorrow morning as Argentina takes on Brazil in the Copa America semifinal.
Match preview 🏟
Tite’s Brazilian outfit is undefeated in their last 14 outings (W11 D3) and hasn’t conceded a goal in their last six. Form and home ground advantage heavily favour the Selecao here, but Argentina has Lionel Messi.
His side have reached four of the last five Copa America finals but have not won the showpiece since 1993 and, truth be told, they've struggled to find their feet in Brazil so far.
Argentina has only won two of their last four matches overall, and only one of their last five head to heads against archrivals Brazil. If ever they needed some Messi magic, it's right now.
Messi weighed down by expectation? 🐐
Argentina's most recent major title is the Copa America of 1993. Since then, they have lost four Copa America finals (2004, 2007, 2015, 2016) and a World Cup final (2014). Of these five, Messi played featured in four.
Brazil is eyeing a first Copa America title since 2007 but veteran centre back Thiago Silva remains wary of the threat Messi poses.
"We will have to be especially focused on him when we have the ball and when we don't," added the former AC Milan player. Sometimes he can be at walking pace during a game but he's always looking for space to launch a counterattack."
"He is the best player in the world and he still could spring to life,", Silva added.
The last time these sides contested a Copa America clash was the 2007 final. What Messi would give to reverse the scoreline of 12 years ago.
Predicted XIs 🧮
Brazil (4-2-2-2) 🇧🇷
Alisson; Alves, Marquinhos, Silva, Luís; Arthur, Casemiro; Coutinho, Everton; Jesus, Firmino
Argentina (4-3-1-2) 🇦🇷
Armani; Foyth, Otamendi, Pezzella, Tagliafico; Paredes, De Paul, Acuña; Messi; Agüero, Martínez
Can Argentina's devastating attacking combination break down Brazil's determined defence?