Brazil vs. Argentina. Neymar vs. Lionel Messi. When it comes to soccer rivalries, star power and pedigree, it doesn’t get much better than this Copa America final on the global stage.
And when you toss in Messi’s quest for his first trophy with Argentina and Neymar’s dream of lifting his first Copa America on home soil, all the ingredients are there for a compelling final at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
Messi vs. Neymar
At age 34, Messi could be looking at one of his final chances at a championship with his national team. The six-time world player of the year has won every major trophy on the club level with FC Barcelona in Spain, but international success has proven elusive with losses in four major tournament finals. It was at the Maracana where Messi saw his World Cup dream dashed by Germany in the 2014 final.
But Messi looks like a man on a mission in Brazil as he looks to end Argentina’s 28-year Copa America drought. He is arguably having his best tournament in an Argentina jersey: He’s the leader in goals (4) and assists (5), factoring in nine of his team’s 11 goals.
Neymar, Messi’s former teammate at Barcelona, is also having a productive Copa America (2 goals, 3 assists), and the 29-year-old is similarly trying to establish a legacy with Brazil after missing the 2019 championship run due to injury. In the lead-up to the match he called out fellow Brazilians who will be rooting for Argentina because of their affection for Messi.
The fans could be a factor in this match. While every 2021 Copa America match played thus far has been played without spectators, there will be a socially-distanced crowd of roughly 5,000, or 10 percent capacity, for the final after local officials gave the green light. Each team was provided 2,200 free tickets.
MORE: Lionel Messi talking trash? It happened in the semis
How to watch Brazil vs. Argentina
- Date: Saturday, July 10
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV channels: FS1
- Spanish-language TV: Univision, TUDN
- Streaming: fuboTV (free 7-day trial); Fox Sports app / TUDN.tv for authenticated subscribers
The 2021 Copa America final between South American giants Brazil and Argentina will be broadcast in English on FS1 and in Spanish on Univision and TUDN.
Brazil vs. Argentina projected lineups
Except for a change here and there, Brazil manager Tite has rolled out the same base lineup for the entire tournament. For the final against Argentina he’ll have to do without Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, who will be serving the second of a two-game suspension imposed by governing body CONMEBOL for the karate kick he delivered against Chile. Everton Cebolinha will assume the wide right attacking spot.
Also, Brazil left back Alex Sandro hasn’t participated in full team training due to a left hamstring injury and Renan Lodi will start again in his place.
MORE: Complete Copa America tournament bracket
In the Argentina camp, center back Cristian “Cuti” Romero is back training with his teammates and said to be an option to start. But it’s hard to see Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni disrupting his team’s defensive flow with German Pezzella. The starting fullbacks are also up in the air, but Nicolas Tagliafico (left) and Nahuel Molina (right) could be preferred for their defensive qualities.
In midfield Scaloni has mixed and matched all tournament long, but for the final Argentine media is expecting that Guido Rodriguez and Rodrigo De Paul remain as locks with the third midfielder being either Leandro Paredes or Giovani Lo Celso. The latter would seem to have the edge based on his play thus far.
Brazil (4-3-3, left to right): 23-Ederson — 16-Renan Lodi, 3-Thiago Silva, 2-Danilo, 4-Marquinhos — 8-Fred, 5-Casemiro, 17-Lucas Paqueta — 7-Richarlison, 10-Neymar, 19-Everton
Argentina (4-3-3, left to right): 23-Emiliano Martínez-GK — 3-Nicolas Tagliafico, 19-Nicolas Otamendi, 6-German Pezzella, 26-Nahuel Molina — 20-Giovani Lo Celso, 18-Guido Rodriguez, 7-Rodrigo De Paul — 15-Nicolas Gonzalez, 22-Lautaro Martínez, 10-Lionel Messi
What happens if there’s a tie?
Unlike the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, which went straight to a penalty-kick shootout in the case of a tie after 90 minutes, the Copa America final will have a 30-minute extra time. If there’s still no winner after extra time, then penalty kicks will be used to declare a champion.
Argentina made it to the final thanks to a memorable penalty-kick shootout win over Colombia. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved three of Colombia’s five attempts, dishing out plenty of trash talk along the way.
MORE: All the 2021 Copa America results and highlights
Only four other Copa America finals have gone to a penalty-kick shootout and one of them saw Brazil beat Argentina in 2004. Argentina also lost back-to-back Copa America finals in heartbreaking fashion on PKs (2015, 2016). Brazil was the loser in the other Copa America final that went to spot kicks (1995).
In the current edition of the Copa America, a total of three of the seven knockout matches thus far have required a shootout to determine a winner.
Brazil vs. Argentina: odds & prediction
Brazil is the defending champion, it’s playing at home and it’s won every edition of the Copa America it has hosted. It’s also taken the last two finals against Argentina (2004 and 2007). So it’s no surprise that the pre-tournament favorite is the favorite in the final, even if Lionel Messi is on the other side of the field.
It’s really hard to pick against Brazil. The Selecao has won its last seven finals (including three against Argentina), while Argentina has lost its last six finals (half via penalty-kick shootout). Since the last time Argentina won the Copa America in 1993, Brazil has won it five times.
But for those who buy into the Messi narrative that he’ll finally deliver for his country, the odds are plenty attractive for both an Argentina victory and an Argentina win in 90 minutes. And the Argentines are on an impressive undefeated run of 19 matches (11-0-8) with their last loss coming in the 2019 Copa America semifinals … against Brazil.
It won’t be easy to find a way through a Brazilian side that’s been effective thanks to its organizational and defensive solidity. It has only conceded twice all tournament on a sensational bicycle kick (Colombia) and a broken play (Peru). And when you consider that Argentina has also been stingy (only three goals against), a tight match is the most likely outcome regardless of your favorite side.
That explains why the Under 2.5 total goals is priced at -230. It should prove a low-scoring affair. With both teams likely to have cautious approaches given the high stakes, a halftime draw might be the best way to play it (-113), or even a specific 0-0 halftime result (+128).
Prediction: Brazil 1, Argentina 0 (extra time)
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
- Brazil to win (90 mins): +115
- Brazil to win trophy: -167
- Draw (90 mins): +200
- Argentina to win (90 mins): +290
- Argentina to win trophy: +140
- Under 1.5 total goals (90 mins): +140
- Under 2.5 total goals (90 mins): -230
- 1st Half draw: -113
- Halftime result 0-0: +128
- Brazil -0.25 Asian Handicap (90 mins): -122