Argentina vs Chile Preview

Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi
Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi will go toe-to-toe when Chile go up against Argentina.
Copa America | Tuesday 7 June | Levi's Stadium | 04:00

South American heavyweights Argentina and Chile battle it out in Group D of the Copa America. A clash between first and third in FIFA rankings – Argentina first and Chile third. The sides last met in the final of the 2015 Copa America, with the Chileans coming out on top in penalties. 

This time round, Argentina have the opportunity to pull one over their previous Copa America victors when they lock horns for their first points on offer in Group D. Could Chile do it in 90 minutes rather than a penalty shoot-out? Or will Argentina get their revenge on the current holders?

To Win (90mins)
Argentina 1/1
Draw 23/10
Chile 26/10

Argentina

Undefeated in their last six matches, Argentina head into the Copa America in great form, winning four of those encounters. Not many teams get the chance to take revenge against their opponents, so shortly after losing in the final. However, I do pity the likes of Lionel Messi and co. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has never won a major senior tournament, losing in the final of the last World Cup and twice falling in the final of the Copa America. Being likened to Diego Maradona for most of his career, Messi has the chance to achieve something that Maradona has never done – win a South American tournament.

Lionel Messi - Argentina

Messi will once again be surrounded by an outstanding supporting cast that will include Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel Di Maria and Barcelona club mate Javier Mascherano. With that being said, it would be hard not to mention Gonzalo Higuain after the Napoli forward smashed the Italian Serie A record with his 36 goals in the league. Argentina will, however, be without Pablo Zabaleta, who needed surgery to repair an ankle injury.

With the current squad that coach Gerardo Martino has at his disposal, it’s now or never to make amends for their previous Copa America final defeat against their counterparts.



Chile

Chile are enjoying a golden era in football at the moment. La Roja won their first South American competition last time out, are ranked third in the world – their highest ranking in their history and are coming off successive World Cup appearances for the first time. However, they still are not even the favourite to win their group here, because much of that prior success came under their former coach, Jorge Sampaoli. A finalist for FIFA coach of the year in 2015 who resigned in January.

Chile split the spoils in their first two competitive matches under his replacement, Juan Antonio Pizzi, who is struggling to find a personality for his team. Under Sampaoli, Chile were relentless in attack, and a physically challenging style of play that an aging team might have difficulty continuing.


But Pizzi still has weapons at his disposal, including Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who is the country’s all-time leader in games played. Lethal striker; Eduardo Vargas of Hoffenheim, who was the leading scorer in the last Copa America; and Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, who is Chile’s top active scorer with 31 goals to his name. Not to mention, the amazing talent of Arturo Vidal in midfield.

Despite all the talent that Pizzi has, though, Chile have won just one of their last five matches in all competitions, with a single draw and three defeats. If they are to step things up, they will need the likes of Vidal and Sanchez at their very best. The duo have been La Roja’s key players for many years and much of Chile’s chances lie in their hands.

With that being said, the current holders of the Copa America have shown that they have what it takes to go all the way in a major tournament, and now have the opportunity to win back-to-back Copa America championships.

Probable line-ups:

Argentina: 4-3-3
Romero; Mercado, Otamendi, Funes Mori, Rojo; Biglia, Mascherano, Lamela; Messi, Higuain, Di Maria.

Chile: 4-3-3
Bravo; Isla, Medel, Jara, Beausejour; Vidal, Gutierrez, Silva; Alexis, Pinilla, Vargas.

Betting Verdict: Argentina (1/1)
As strong as Chile can be on their day, I can only see this tie ending in Argentina’s favour. Major tournaments have never boded well for The White and Sky Blues, however, there’s just something special about this Argentina team. Leo Messi is just three goals behind Gabriel Batistuta in Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorers list. Whether or not the left-footed magician will score here and edge closer to another record, only time will tell. With that being said, Argentina for the win is tipped at even money. It’s payback time!

Written by Jesse Nagel.