Argentina-Chile title rematch could get Messi

Argentina-Chile title rematch could get Messi

Last year’s Copa America final found Chile outlasting Argentina on penalty kicks in a rock 'em-sock 'em affair for the ages. Tonight, the two nations could craft an even more exciting sequel.

La Roja and La Albiceleste stage a rematch in the 8 p.m. ET finale of the 2016 tournament. Online sports book Bovada.lv likes manager Tata Marino’s squad this time around, whereas Chile enters the proceedings at MetLife Stadium as a +400 underdog. The over/goal total rests at 2.5.

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With all due respect to Argentina’s ultra-deep roster, its preferred status has everything to do with Lionel Messi’s singular dominance at the moment. The Barcelona sensation boasts five goals and five assists in very limited action. His scintillating free kick in Tuesday’s 4-0 throttling of the United States stands out as perhaps the signature moment of the Centenario so far. Unless La Roja coach Juan Antonio Pizzi can devise a way to neutralize Messi to some degree, Argentina will undoubtedly snap that 23-year title doubt.

Of course, Chile’s uncommon resolve became more prominent than ever once the knockout stage arrived. Pizzi’s troops followed up a 7-0 rout of Colombia with a weather-delayed 2-0 triumph over Mexico in the quarterfinals. Arturo Vidal also returns from suspension, offsetting the loss of Pablo Hernandez (knee).

It should be noted that Argentina isn’t without injury concerns either. Marcos Rojo, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Augusto Fernandez all are hindered by various ailments. Yet this evening’s clash hinges on the ability of one of the greatest players of his generation to deliver a transcendent performance. If Messi rises to the occasion, the silverware finally heads to Buenos Aires. We believe La Albiceleste’s third straight major final will be the charm.

SUNDAY COPA AMERICA FREE PICK: ARGENTINA -1

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