Copa America final of 2021. Brazil vs Argentina. It does not get any bigger. The two biggest dancers of the footballing ballerina will now tussle in a winner takes all battle. One team has Neymar and the other has Lionel Messi. Master and apprentice once. Definite foes on battleground next. It is a fitting final really. Not just on the basis of heavyweight names that shine brightest in football's galaxy. In fact, Brazil and Argentina have been the two best teams in the tournament thus far.
Both sides are unbeaten heading into the Copa America final. The pair of them finished on 10 points in the group stages. Both teams overcame Group B opponents in the semifinal. And both the poster boys assisted the only goal their team scored in the last game. Thus, for form, for football romance and for the bottomless tradition, Brazil vs Argentina in the Copa America final is as mouth watering as any game of football can ever get.
Copa America final telecast India and live stream
The Copa America final, Brazil vs Argentina, will be played in Maracana Stadium, Rio De Janeiro on Saturday, 10th July 2021 from 9 PM local time. In India, the time difference means the game will start at 5:30 AM IST on Sunday, 11th July 2021.
The match will be telecast live in India on the Sony Sports network, in both SD and HD. Meanwhile, Sony LIV will live stream the Copa America final in India. This will be available both, on the Sony LIV mobile application as well as the website. Jio TV (Sony Ten 2) will also provide live streaming of the Copa America final in India.
Copa America final: Brazil vs Argentina Predicted 11s
Both teams have relied on stability in this tournament and are unlikely to make major changes. Brazil might make one change though. Everton, who lit up Copa America last time, had an uninspiring semifinal. He could be replaced by namesake Everton Ribeiro. Gabriel Jesus is suspended for the final. Meanwhile, Argentina could make an alteration at right back from the semifinal. Angel Di Maria could also start at left wing. Danilo, Brazil's weakest link in defence, will have his work cut out in that case. Both, Neymar and Leo Messi are fit and will play from the start.
Brazil predicted 11: Ederson; Danilo, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Renan Lodi; Casemiro, Fred; Everton Ribeiro, Lucas Paqueta, Richarlison; Neymar
Argentina predicted 11: Emiliano Martinez; Gonzalo Montiel, German Pezzella, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico; Guido Rodriguez, Rodrigo De Paul, Giovani Lo Celso; Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria
Copa America final: Brazil
Brazil will line up in their favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. It is a fluid front four for Brazil. Ribeiro starts on the right, Richarlison on the left. Neymar and Paqueta are given freedom to float about on the pitch. Sometimes, there is no centre forward for Brazil and sometimes there are three. This makes the opposition defenders' job tricky against Tite's men.
Richarlison usually cuts in from the left as Neymar drops deep to weave his creative magic. Ribeiro, meanwhile, will hold width. He possesses pace and trickery to go on the outside of the left back to the byline before crossing the ball into a danger area. Everton was unable to provide that incision in the semifinal for Brazil.
Paqueta will be the key for Brazil in this game. The left-footed player scored Brazil's winners in the quarter final and semifinal. He has been in fine form otherwise too. Paqueta has picked out passes from deep, enabling Neymar to play slightly higher up the pitch. He is also adept at ghosting into the box to finish chances.
Brazil have a newfound solidity at the back. Marquinhos is perhaps the best central defender in the world at the moment and is partnered by the experienced Thiago Silva. Left back Lodi is fresh off winning the league with the defensively astute Atletico Madrid. They also pair two defensive midfielders - Casemiro and Fred. The former is a serial winner with Real Madrid. He knows the art of tactical fouls, breaking up play and has good positional awareness. Fred, meanwhile, is tireless at covering ground and recovering the ball.
Thus, the Brazil team, albeit unspectacular at times, is very effective.
Copa America final: Argentina
On paper, their defence is not as strong as Brazil's. Otamendi has a knack of being rash while Pezzella is not the most experienced at the elite level. However, the Argentina's system seems to be working in this tournament. Goalkeeper Emi Martinez is a reliable lieutenant of that system. The custodian was star man in the semi final as he saved a jaw dropping three penalties in the shootout. Martinez jumped left and right to thwart Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Edwin Cardona.
Rodriguez, in midfield, will task himself with the enviable job of keeping the free moving Paqueta in check. He might call upon the industrious De Paul to help him out as Neymar drops deep. The two centre backs of Argentina must then mark space instead of being pulled out of position. Lo Celso will be the quarterback who sprays passes into the final third. It was his precise ball to Messi that led to Argentina's goal in the semifinal.
Argentina must also be wary of the Brazilian press. However, if any team in world football wanted one player to beat a press, or tackles, or any other means of legitimate or illegitimate means of hurdling, Argentina have him. It is Messi, of course. Now the most capped Argentine player, Messi has been the tournament's best player and will take some stopping. In the semifinal, six Colombian players received yellow cards and all of them were induced by the Argentine skipper.
Lautaro Martinez is also in goal scoring form, finding the net three times, only behind Messi at four. Messi also has 5 assists, the highest in the tournament.
Copa America final: Neymar vs Messi
This is the battle really. The mega battle within the mega battle. Two men, so similar in style of play up against one another. Once friends. Then one left for the sunshine of Paris. He did not quite fancy the comfort of Messi's shade. It is none of the Argentine's fault though. The little genius tries his best to avoid the limelight. He does not do interviews, no flashy Instagram posts. No inadvertent comments about being the best either. Like he is for defenders on the pitch, Messi is elusive off the pitch too.
Neymar, meanwhile, is a poster boy by design and whim. He craves the billboards. Loves a haircut with different colours; dribbles as much to entertain as be effective. But, when on song, there is nobody else who comes as close to the mesmeric allure of Messi. Neymar is a special footballer. He often pulls off stunts that would make you believe otherwise. But, as much as Messi, he possesses that unique ability to completely turn a game on its head. The Brazilian has previously done so in the Argentine's presence. Against the very club he plays for now. The famous 6-1 result of Barcelona will forever be remembered for how absolutely unplayable Neymar was in the last minutes to inspire the comeback.
And so this game is Neymar vs Messi. Once allies. Now will plot the downfall of the other. Not in words or paper, but with the maze of quick feet and even quicker mind. They will dance and make the opposition move to their tune. A disdainful flick. A Hollywood misdirection. And right in front of your eyes, they will perform a magic trick.
Messi and Neymar are why you want to watch football. They break it down and make it look awfully simple. And then, like every good magic trick, leave you befuddled and amazed. Whatever happens on Saturday night or Sunday morning, the football fan in all of us will be treated and left with a smile. The genius will leave an impression. The genius always do.
Copa America final, Brazil vs Argentina - a game of once in a lifetime magicians taking stage to make us happy in uncertain times!