Argentina, Messi hope to take down Panama

Argentina, Messi hope to take down Panama

Lionel Messi is human like the rest of us. Still, fans of Argentina are working themselves into a lather over the mere possibility that arguably soccer’s biggest name could return tonight.

With or without the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, coach Gerardo Martino’s club enters its 9:30 p.m. ET clash vs. Panama as the heavy favorite. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Albiceleste odds of -500 to claim the Group D affair in Chicago. Panama, on the other hand, represents a +1400 underdog. The over/under goal total rests at 2.5.

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Messi missed Argentina’s Copa America opener with Chile due to a bruised back. The star footballer is itching to tackle his first competitive match on United States soil, though, and against a country that narrowly edged Bolivia on Monday. Panama required two goals from Blas Perez to knock off FIFA’s 82nd-best squad in the world.

Martino doesn’t seem like the type to take a berth in the quarterfinals for granted, so expect Messi to hit the pitch at Soldier Field. Even a cameo appearance from the forward would lift Argentina’s spirits immeasurably. Either way, the affair in question shouldn’t be a particularly close one. Clear some space for Messi, Angel Di Maria and the whole gang in the knockout rounds.

FRIDAY COPA AMERICA FREE PICK: ARGENTINA -1.5

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