Argentina are Copa America Champions for the first time in 28years, Messi wins first Senior International Trophy
Angel Di Maria’s mid-way first-half sensational strike at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro was the match decider that gave Argentina a 1-0 win over Brazil to lift their 15th Copa America title (equalling Uruguay’s record as the most successful nation in the history of the competition) and their first major title in 28years. And since 1937, this is the first time the Argentine national team would defeat Brazil in a Copa América final match.
This Argentina’s Copa America triumph means a lot to Barcelona star Lionel Messi who this is the first time ever he’s lifting a major senior international trophy in a blue-and-white shirt after making his debut for Argentina 16years ago. The tournament’s golden glove winner Emiliano Martinez was excited to have won the trophy with the superstar colleague: “I’m speechless. I knew my dream would come true, and where better than the Maracanazo and giving the title to the best in the world and fulfilling his dream.”
The six-times Ballon D’or winner was voted alongside former Barca teammate Neymar as the joint best player of this year’s edition of Copa America as he finished the tournament as joint top-scorer with four goals and five assists.
Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni said the trophy is for every Argentine and he expects them to enjoy it: “This is a very big title. I hope that Argentines can enjoy it. The fans love the team unconditionally, and I think they identify with this side that never drops its guard.”
The matchwinner Di Maria expressed his excitement over their victory: “I can’t cry yet. We dreamed of getting this, and we fought. Many people criticized us and asked us not to come back [to the national team].”
The match itself wasn’t really an end-to-end thrilling match to always remember before though the Argentines proved to be the better side in the first half. The game was so physical that a total number of about 21 fouls were committed by both teams in the first half only.
Argentina had always stuck to their gameplan of scoring early and defending their lead with their compacted and physically-inclined defensive style of play since their early days in the competition – this was exactly what they did against Brazil in the final after left-back Renan Lodi failed to cut out the long pass that Rodrigo de Paul made to Angel Di Maria that he controlled and lobbed-past Ederson in the 22nd minute.
Brazil was the better side in the 2nd half – got a goal disallowed and forced Argentina Goalkeeper Emi Martínez to make some huge nice saves. The Selecao pushed further going into the game but the Argentines remained disciplined to their approach, wasted enough time and made lots of tackles to take Brazil out of their rhythm and deny them an equalizer or any chance of turning things around.
The outcome at full-time means Brazil has now tasted defeated in a competitive match for the first time since they lost to Belgium in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup and Argentina, on the other end, remains unbeaten in their last 20games under current coach Lionel Scaloni.