Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Copa America: Messi’s first title with Argentina

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Virginia Whitehead
Virginia Whitehead
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Rio de Janeiro | Thunder bombing in the Maracana stadium! Lionel Messi finally won his first title with Argentina by taming Neymar to Brazil in the Copa America final (1-0), ending his country’s 28-year famine.

The fifth was correct: after losing four major tournament finals with Albiceleste (2014 World Cup, Copa América 2007, 2015 and 2016), he finally scooped the six-time Ballon d’Or trophy in his country’s jersey.

A victory by his teammates after the final whistle, Messi, 34, finished the tournament’s top scorer and assist (4 goals and 5 assists).

But the champion of the final is Angel Di Maria: the Paris Saint-Germain player scored the winning goal for Argentina with a superb header after a shining opener from Rodrigo de Paul, also excellent in the Maracana.

Neymar, did not know how to affect the match and burst into tears after the final whistle, before he was relieved to hug Messi, his former teammate in Barcelona.

For Brazil, we are far from the Maracanazo shock of 1950 against Uruguay, or the 7-1 humiliation Germany inflicted in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals, but it remains a cruel disappointment to the defending champions, who had won in the other five Copa Cups played on his land.

Tite’s men have not lost in official matches since the 2018 World Cup quarter-final against Belgium (1-2).

They have beaten their Argentine great rivals in their last two matches in the Copa America final (2004, 2007) and in the semi-finals of the last edition, in 2019.

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Argentina, who have not won a title since the Copa America in Ecuador in 1993, joined Uruguay at the top of the tournament, with 15 titles, which kept the Brazilians in trouble (9).

For this festive match, the Rio City Hall allowed the attendance of a few thousand fans, a measure of 10% in the Maracana at the height of the competition in which all previous matches were held behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 epidemic, which has killed more than 530 thousand people in Brazil.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino specially came to Rio for the final, and he was also part of the party.

sense of tension

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni decided to form a decisive attacking team with Di Maria to replace him in the last three matches, along with Messi and Lautaro Martinez in attack.

Like any “Super Clasico” among the holy beasts of South American football, the tension was palpable since kick-off.

Seleção started imposing great pressure, with aggressiveness that was quickly stopped by a yellow card for Fred from the third minute of play.

Neymar also wanted to limit his area immediately, with a sombrero strike on his former Paris Saint-Germain teammate, Lo Celso, in midfield (7e).

But after a sporadic start to the match, with a slew of fouls on both sides, lightning came from Di Maria.

Well shot by De Paul on the right at the offside limit, the Paris winger ran at the speed of Renan Lodi before tricking goalkeeper Ederson with a beautiful shot (22)e).

This goal stunned Brazil to some extent and the Argentine waves continued to rise, with shots from Di Maria (28 .).e) and Messi (30e).

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Tite tried everything with the addition of an additional striker in the first half, Firmino, in place of Fred, and the Seleção regained momentum.

Richarlison was denied a goal for offside (52 .).e) and tripped over goalkeeper Martinez (53 .).e), after a beautiful opening from Neymar in the region.

Gabigol created two chances at the end of the match (82 .).e, 86e), but Argentina maintained their victory in the temple of Brazilian football.

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