Argentina vs Brazil: Time has come for Lionel Messi and La Albiceleste to make history

Argentina will be looking to end their 28-year wait for a major trophy when they take on Brazil in the final of the 2021 Copa America.

When: Sunday, July 11, 1am BST

How to watch: BBC Red Button

Where: Rio de Janeiro, Maracana

Follow this game live via our score centre

Best bets

Argentina to win 3-2 at 45/1

Brazil to have most bookings at 29/20

Lautaro Martinez to score anytime at 31/10

It's fair to say that this year's Copa America has somewhat underdelivered. It was a tournament with few shocks and upsets as the two South American powerhouses booked their place in the final.

But the best may have been saved for last.

Argentina against Brazil is a fixture that rarely fails to deliver. The two giants of international soccer have gone head-to-head 107 times since 1914.

Take the view of PSG's Marquinhos who told reporters in his pre-match press conference: "Brazil versus Argentina is much more than a simple game of football. These jerseys make the world stand still to watch their games."

The Maracana will be empty this Sunday but many still expect a fiery encounter. There's simply too much on the line for tempers not to boil over.

Lionel Messi is racing against time to try and lead Argentina to international success. The Barcelona forward won six Ballon d'Or awards, ten La Liga titles and four Champions League winners medals. However, his trophy case with international honours has done nothing but gather dust.

Neymar Jr, on the other hand, has been increasingly compared to Pele as he closes in on Brazil's all-time scoring record.

Trouble is, Pele won three World Cups and retired from the international game at the age of 31. Meanwhile, Neymar's biggest achievement to date was winning the Confederations Cup in 2013.

Looking ahead to the match itself, Brazil will have to be a lot more clinical if they are to prevail. Tite's men won their quarter-final and semi-final with a slender 1-0 scoreline.

That may not do against an Argentinian side which has scored eight goals in their last three games (not counting the recent penalty shoot-out).

All in all, this is shaping up to be an absolute classic.

Last three matches

Brazil 0-1 Argentina (Friendly - November 15, 2019)

Don't let the scoreline fool you. This was by no means a 'friendly' encounter.

Gabriel Jesus failed to convert a penalty in the 10th minute and moments later his miss proved costly.

Three minutes later Argentina were awarded a penalty of their own. Messi failed to convert from the spot but he did bag the rebound to send his side in-front.

Six yellow cards were dished out in what proved to be an eventful fixture.

Brazil 2-0 Argentina (2019 Copa America - July 3, 2019)

The last competitive meeting between these two nations took place in the semi-final of the 2019 Copa America.

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring as Brazil went into the break with a goal advantage.

After the interval, Roberto Firmino added a second for the hosts who went on to book their place in the final against Peru.

Brazil 1-0 Argentina (Friendly - October 16, 2018)

Brazil prevailed when the two teams met in a friendly back in 2018.

The match took place at the King Abdullah stadium in Amman with over 60,000 fans in attendance.

The capacity crowd was forced to wait until the 93rd minute to see the winning goal which was scored by Miranda.

Last ten head-to-heads

Argentina wins: 4

Draws: 1

Brazil wins: 5

Argentina goals: 10

Brazil goals: 16

Brazil don't lose Copa America games on home soil

Here's a good quiz question. How many Copa America games have Brazil lost when playing at home?

The answer is two.

Despite hosting six tournaments since the inception of the South American Championship, only two nations have managed to beat Brazil in their own backyard.

The first such result took place in 1949. Paraguay ended Brazil's unbeaten home run with a 2-1 victory in Rio de Janeiro.

Twenty-six years later, Peru followed in their footsteps when they picked up a 3-1 victory in Belo Horizonte during the 1975 Copa America.

It's now been 46 years since that loss.

Free-scoring Argentina can punish stuttering Brazilians

As we've seen throughout this tournament, Argentina's Lionel Scaloni tends to favour a 4-3-3 formation.

In the early stages of the competition, there was a lack of fluidity about their game. Results certainly reflected that as a 1-1 draw with Chile was followed by 1-0 wins over Uruguay and Paraguay.

However, things have began to click since then. The likes of Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso and Rodrigo De Paul have impressed in midfield while Messi and Lautaro Martinez have been busy banging in the goals.

Speaking of goals, that is one area in which Brazil have somewhat stuttered in. After kicking off the tournament with 3-0 and 4-0 wins over Venezuela and Peru, things were looking up.

Instead, Tite's men struggled against Colombia, drew with Ecuador and enjoyed 1-0 wins over Chile and Peru in the knockout stages.

Neymar Jr hasn't scored since the second game of the tournament and the pressure is certainly growing ahead of the showpiece.

Goalscorer bets

One Brazilian who has been scoring is Lucas Paqueta. The Lyon player scored two goals in two games as he continues to impress for the national team.

At 17/4, Paqueta is well priced to score anytime.

Lucas Paqueta
Lucas Paqueta

From Argentina's perspective, Lautaro Martinez is the man to back. His efforts have been somewhat overshadowed by Messi's magic but with three tournament goals to his name, he's worth a shot at 31/10.

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