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It’s the Copa America final that everyone wanted: Brazil vs Argentina.
Following a grueling path through the group stage and the knockout round, only two teams remain in the South American competition.
Brazil, led by Neymar in the frontline, have had a few close calls along the way but have their defense to thank for carrying them to the final.
As for Argentina, despite a couple of high-scoring wins, they nearly missed out on the championship match after squeezing past Colombia through penalties in the semis.
Saturday’s match will unquestionably be a battle between the best of the best within the region. With no lack of superstars for either side, it’s somewhat up in the air who will take the title.
All that said, if we had to select one team over the other, it’s easier to find some weaknesses for Argentina that could potentially be the reason why they could ultimately fail to clinch a win. Brazil have the slight edge this weekend. Pick Brazil for the victory in the 2021 Copa America championship bout.
The best odds for this match
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|Brazil vs Argentina Information|
|Teams||Brazil vs Argentina|
|Location||Maracanã Stadium (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)|
|Time||Saturday, July 10th at 8:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||Univision, FS1, TUDN|
It’s not surprising to see both Brazil and Argentina at this stage in the competition.
Although Peru and Colombia gave them some trouble in the semifinal round, the expected outcome of a title match featuring the two giants ultimately came to fruition.
For Brazil, this is just one step closer to earning back-to-back Copa America trophies for the third time since the 1990s.
The current champions have been brilliant in the competition, and regardless of some of those aforementioned close calls, they seem to always be in control of the pace of every game.
As for Argentina, they’ve had the benefit of fielding one of the greatest players, if not the greatest, of all time: Lionel Messi.
With four goals and five assists in just six games, the 34-year-old is currently the frontrunner for the MVP of the tournament.
And yet, will Messi’s influence be enough to potentially compensate for some of Argentina’s vulnerabilities?
Both Argentina and Brazil have put up some incredible numbers in defense.
With xG (expected goals) ratings of 13.94 and 13.83, respectively, the South American powerhouses have clearly stood out amongst all of their peers in the current Copa America.
But what about xGA (expected goals against)?
That’s where things get a bit more interesting.
While Brazil’s rating of 2.36 is outstanding, Argentina’s tally of 4.78 is still impressive but also questionable.
Fans of the Argentine side are probably familiar with some of these small yet noticeable problems. Their distribution could be improved and their energy can drop out of nowhere.
When challenged, Argentina’s backline has looked surprisingly feeble throughout a number of games. In fact their defensive duels success rate would currently rank 5th in the tournament.
As for Brazil…
In the end, what will truly separate the two teams is how impeccable Brazil’s defensive numbers have been.
They have the lowest xGA in Copa America, the highest success rate of defensive duels, the fewest goals conceded per 90 minutes and the fewest shots against per 90 minutes.
Brazil’s backline has been unstoppable, and most importantly, they have a depth of options in case an injury occurs before or during the game.
And even if Messi and company find a way to create a number of dangerous chances, they’ll need to find a way past a world-class goalkeeper like Alisson or Ederson.
It’s important to remember that Argentina were very close to not qualifying for the final.
After being outshot by a Colombian side that hit the woodwork twice in the 1-1 semifinal draw earlier this week, Argentina eventually sneaked by thanks to some heroics from Emiliano Martinez in a penalty shoot-out.
Were it not for Martinez’s three saves during the shootout that eventually finished in Argentina’s favor, Colombia could have easily been the ones in the final.
The margin for error will be much smaller for Argentina this weekend, and after seeing some issues throughout the competition, they might land just short of a championship.
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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