Brazil face Argentina this Saturday evening in the final of the Copa America, at the mythical Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. It’s the final all neutrals wanted, one they haven’t had since 2007.
Brazil won that game, and indeed have won every game against Argentina since 2005. They’re holders of the Copa America, while Argentina haven’t won a title since the 1993 edition.
It’s a game loaded with history and quality. Leading Brazil is Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar, now 28 and in the prime of his career but yet to win a title with the selecao; he was injured for their Copa America victory in 2019.
Lionel Messi is Argentina’s captain, and has also never won a major title with his country. He was part of the Argentina team that lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany at the Maracana, so will be out to expel some ghosts.
Messi is 34 now, and a free agent after his Barcelona contract expired. He knows this could be his last Copa America, and is playing like it. The drama of the situation has meant that some Brazilians have decided to shout for Argentina, something Neymar wasn’t too pleased about. “I’m Brazilian, with a lot of pride and a lot of love,” Neymar wrote in Instagram according to Marca.
“My dream was always to play for the Brazilian national team and hear the fans singing. I never attacked or will attack Brazil if they’re playing for something, whether it’s sport, a modelling contest or an Oscar. If there’s a Brazilian who does differently? Okay, I’ll respect it, but I’ll dedicate [whatever the team goes and does] to those who are against us.”