Why can Argentina led by Messi win the Copa America?
We look at 5 reasons why Argentina can end their 28 year trophy drought by winning the rescheduled 2021 Copa America
Emergence of goalkeeper Martinez and Centre backs: The postponement of Copa America due to the pandemic benefited Argentina greatly. The year’s postponement saw the emergence of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez who not only established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in England but also in the World. The Aston Villa goalkeeper has turned Argentina’s weakness into a position of strength. The emergence of Atalanta Centre back Cristian Romero who has admirers from some of Europe’s biggest clubs highlighting his potential. Additionally, Argentina also saw the emergence of Ajax centre back Lisandro Martínez and Fiorentina’s Lucas Martínez. The emergence of the aforementioned players has turned Argentina’s weakness into a possession of strength. If the tournament would have held last year Argentina would have most probably started with the unconvincing Armani in goal, ageing centre back Otamendi would have been partnered by the error-prone Walter Kannemann.
Messi Factor: Argentina go into another tournament hugely reliant on their brilliant forward to turn on the style. The diminutive Messi enjoyed another brilliant season for Barcelona. Despite turning 34 Messi still was one of the World’s best players. In 2021 Messi scored 23 goals in 21 matches, highlighting his form coming into the tournament. Argentina’s leading goal scorer remains capable of single handedly winning matches with his vision, dribbling and laser like finishing.
Quality Midfield: Argentina’s midfield was the major issue in the major tournaments for them. La Albiceleste severely lacked creativity from midfield. Apart from Mascherano who in his later years was deployed as a centre back Argentina struggled to find a proper holding midfielder or a number 8. Argentina’s midfield struggled to progress the ball and provide their threatening forward line with adequate service. The emergence of Rodrigo De Paul who proved himself as one of the best midfielders in Europe plus the presence of Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso and Real Betis’s unsung but effective holding midfielder Guido Rodríguez provides Argentina with a well rounded midfield which offers them flexibility and quality which the La Albiceleste didn’t have for years.
Lautaro Martínez: The brilliant form of Lautaro Martínez is another major positive for Argentina. The 23-year-old formed a devastating partnership with Romelu Lukaku which helped Inter win the Serie A. Lautaro Martínez’s pace and deadly finishing means he has the potential to emerge from this tournament as the continent’s next big superstar.
Weakening of Chile and Colombia While Argentina have themselves improved, they will also be benefited somewhat by the weakening of Colombia and their nemesis Chile. Chile who twice denied Argentina the Copa America title by defeating them on penalties are on a poor run of form. Chile’s key players like Sanchez and Vidal are ageing while Chile are also struggling in World Cup qualification languishing in 7th place in 6 points from 6 matches with just 1 win.