Chile is looking to become the first host nation to become Copa America champions since Colombia did it back in 2001. Lionel Messi is looking for his first big win with the Argentinian national team since the Olympic Gold back in 2008. The stage is set for an epic final at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos in Santiago on Saturday.
Chile’s road the final started with a 2-0 over Ecuador in the opening game of the tournament. The Chileans were the big favorites in Group A, with Ecuador, Mexico, and Bolivia all fighting for the second spot and a chance to move on to the knockout stages. In the second group game, they played Mexico in a wild 3-3 draw. It was a very entertaining game for neutrals and fans alike as it had plenty of goals and excitement. Mexico went up 1-0 in the 21st minute, but Arturo Vidal drew level for Chile just a minute later.
Mexico retook the lead seven minutes after that, but once again Chile drew level bringing the score to 2-2 at halftime. In the second half, Vidal gave Chile its first lead of the game, but then it was Mexico’s time to come back and tie the game. The teams had a total of 17 shots on goal between them in one of the most entertaining games of the tournament.
Chile then went on to destroy Bolivia in the final group stage game 5-0 in a very one-sided affair. Chile took control right away with a goal in the 3rd minute and just kept the foot on the gas. The two wins and one draw meant that Chile won Group A ahead of Bolivia.
In the quarterfinals, Chile went up against Uruguay. It was a close one, and it took until the 81st minute until Mauricio Isla scored the winner for Chile. The hosts had a vast majority of the possession and had seven shots on target compared to Uruguay’s one shot. In the semifinals, Chile took another one-goal victory as they beat Peru 2-1. Eduardo Vargas gave Chile the lead right before halftime, but Peru came back in the 60th minute through an own goal by Gary Medel. Medel was distraught after steering a cross from a Peruvian player into his own net, but he was bailed out by Vargas who scored his second of the night just four minutes later.
Argentina meanwhile had a rocky start to the tournament and drew the opening game against Paraguay 2-2 after leading 2-0 at halftime. That result was followed up by two 1-0 victories over Uruguay and Jamaica. Argentina dominated for the better part of all the group stage matches, but had difficulties scoring on the opportunities given to them.
Messi & Co. went on to play Colombia in the quarterfinals. Despite heavy possession numbers, the Argentinians only had three shots on goal, and this game was decided on penalties. Carlos Tevez who had been subbed on in the second half scored the winning penalty for Argentina.
In the semifinals, Argentina had sort of a ketchup effect as pretty much everything seem to go in as they destroyed Paraguay 6-1. Marcos Rojo scored after 15 minutes and Javier Pastore added to the lead in the 27th minute. Paraguay got one back before halftime through Lucas Barrios, but in the second half it was all Argentina. Angel Di Maria scored twice in the early part of the second half and Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain also got their names on the scoresheet. Messi didn’t score but had three assists.
There’s no doubt that the tournament’s two best teams come together on Saturday in the final, and it could easily become a goal fest as both sides have plenty of firepower.