Can Messi end Argentina’s wait for continental glory?

By Soccer Blog | Jun 13, 2019

The 2019 Copa America, the last ever edition of the tournament to be played in an odd numbered year, kicks off this weekend. The tournament will be held in Brazil, but with Neymar injured, all eyes will be on one player and his attempt to break his national side’s continental trophy drought- Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

While Messi and long standing rival Cristiano Ronaldo have both had unprecedented domestic success, the inability to win their national team trophies has been an oft aimed criticism towards both players. Ronaldo appears to have shrugged off that tag in recent years, with Portugal winning Euro 2016 in France and following it up with the Nations League title at home earlier this month.

Argentina are in Group B for Copa America, alongside Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar. It’s not a gimme group by any stretch of imagination- Colombia are just one spot below Argentina in the FIFA rankings, Paraguay have been on a bit of a downslide but remain dangerous on their day while Qatar are the reigning Asian Cup champions, having beaten the likes of South Korea and Japan en route to the title.

LM2

Argentina at Copa America when Lionel Messi has played

2007 Copa America- Runners up
2011 Copa America- Quarter finalists
2015 Copa America- Runners up
2016 Copa America- Runners up

Argentina’s path to the finals also appears complicated. If they win Group B, their opponents in the last eight could potentially be one of defending champions Chile or Uruguay, both tricky opponents for the Albiceleste on paper. Despite the absence of Neymar, Brazil (11/10) are considered strong favourites to triumph on home soil. Argentina are at 7/2 to win this tournament, and if you reckon Messi can finally end his country’s 26 year long wait for a Copa title, don’t forget to use bettingbonuscode.com before backing Lionel Scaloni’s men.

LS

Former Deportivo defender Scaloni is Argentina’s seventh manager this decade, which speaks volumes of the turmoil surrounding the national team. Scaloni has the likes of Pablo Aimar, Walter Samuel and Roberto Ayala- all very recognisable names if you watched international footy in the late 90’s and the early 00’s, as his assistant coaches.

Only four of the 23- goalkeepers Franco Armani and Esteban Andrada, defender Milton Casco and striker Matias Suarez, ply their trade in Argentina. There are plenty of big names that won’t feature in the tournament- the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Erik Lamela and Mauro Icardi were all unable to crack the final squad.

This, and the upcoming 2020 Copa, will probably be Messi’s last chance at continental glory. Given the emotional upheaval he felt after the 2016 Copa Centenario final, a crushing defeat here may mean another international retirement, but this time, one that may perhaps not be reversed.

Argentina’s fixtures at Copa America 2019

Argentina v Colombia in Salvador (June 15)
Argentina v Paraguay in Belo Horizonte (June 19)
Qatar v Argentina in Porto Alegre (June 23)

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