Argentina’s Lionel Messi (10) and teammates celebrate defeating Colombia in a penalty shootout during a Copa America semifinal soccer match at the National stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
- South American rivals Argentina and Brazil clash in the Copa America final on Saturday
- Brazil is a slight +114 favorite ahead of this massive fixture
- Get the odds, preview, and prediction below
By no surprise, the two best teams in South America will lock horns in the Copa America final on Saturday when Argentina faces Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. While this is a matchup with tons of history, it could be one of the last opportunities for Lionel Messi to capture a piece of hardware on the international stage with his country.
In four meetings since 2017, both of these sides have captured two victories apiece heading into this match.
Argentina vs Brazil Odds
|Argentina vs Brazil||ARG +0.5 (-136) | BRA -0.5 (+114)||ARG +270 | BRA +114 | DRAW +215||Ov 2.5 (+150) | Un 2.5 (-190)|
All odds as of July 8th at DraftKings
Can Messi Power Argentina to Victory?
This competition hasn’t been so kind to the Argentinians, with their last trophy coming way back in 1993. However, they’ve finished as runners-up on four separate occasions since 2004.
Messi has been the leading catalyst in the final third for Lionel Scaloni’s men, bagging four goals and registering five assists in just six fixtures in Copa America. In Argentina’s victory over Colombia in the semifinals where they won in penalties, Messi ran riot on his opponents. He set up their lone goal early in the first half with a nifty turn and pass to Inter star Lautaro Martinez, who clinically found the back of the net.
The Barcelona legend was running circles around the Colombians and to be frank, they were lucky to even get to penalty kicks. Six yellows were handed to Reinaldo Rueda’s squad and coincidentally enough, all of them were for fouls on Messi. All in all, it’s been an impressive showing for La Celeste in Copa America. They compiled a 3-1-0 record in the group stages and comfortably took care of Ecuador in the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win.
Emiliano Martinez received his first Argentina cap last month.
After making THREE shootout saves in the Copa America semi-final, he’s their Superman. pic.twitter.com/IXj1VcTNur
— Goal (@goal) July 7, 2021
The real story of the semis though was keeper Emiliano Martinez, who plays his club football for Aston Villa. He denied three spot-kicks which proved to be massive. The 28-year-old, who has been thrown around Europe for years on various loan spells, has emerged as a hero for his country and will be very important in the final against an attacking-minded Brazil squad.
2021 CONMEBOL Copa América Odds Tracker
Brazil Class of the Tournament
While the Argentines have shown well, the Brazilians have undoubtedly looked like the best side in the competition. They’ve scored 12 goals thus far and conceded just twice. The semifinals saw Tite’s men beat Peru in a 1-0 affair thanks to Lucas Paqueta’s winner in the first half, which was set up beautifully by Neymar.
Brazil did lack the end product though after compiling 15 shots and a total of eight on target, yet only one beat the Peruvian keeper. The Seleção will be without Man City striker Gabriel Jesus on Saturday, who is serving a suspension for his red card in the quarterfinals against Chile. There are enough other attacking options to make up for his absence though, with the likes of Roberto Firmino, Vinicius Junior, and Richarlison all capable of creating a moment of brilliance.
Just like his former Barca teammate, Neymar has led his side in the final third. He’s netted twice and tallied three assists in five appearances in Copa America and will be a key figure for the Brazilians in the final.
🗣️ Neymar Jr: “Messi is the best player I’ve ever seen, he’s a great friend, but we’re in the final, we’re rivals and I want to win and get my first title with the national team.” pic.twitter.com/gMDvUQld6O
— infosfcb (@infosfcb) July 9, 2021
While Tite’s squad hasn’t had any issues scoring goals, the backline has been the real strength. Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, who were previously teammates together at PSG, have been rock solid as the back two and have barely allowed any legitimate opportunities on goal. To put it into perspective, Allison and Ederson have made a combined 12 saves in five games. But, the defense will be tested against a vibrant and very skilled Argentina frontline, headlined by Messi.
Argentina vs Brazil Key Stats
|5-1-0||Record in Copa America||5-1-0|
|10.8||Shots Per Match||11.3|
|6.7||Shots on Target Per Match||6|
|389.2||Completed Passes Per Match||451.5|
Argentina vs Brazil Prediction
On paper, both of these teams are extremely talented. They have players from some of the biggest clubs in world football and it will surely be a dogfight. I do think this fixture will come down to the wire, with the Brazilians just edging Argentina. Expect Leo Messi to find the back of the net though and finish off his tournament on a high note.
Pick: Brazil to Win by 1 (+265), Lionel Messi to Score (+225)
Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT ’17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.