Argentina and their fans had a season to remember at Copa America. Leo Messi ended the side's trophy drought and helped La Albiceleste win a major title for the first time in 28 years.
Despite having a star-studded squad on many occasions, Argentina's most recent silverware came in the form of the 1993 Copa America. Since then, Messi and Co. nearly got their hands on an international trophy on numerous occasions (the 2014 World Cup final and the 2004, 2007, 2015, 2016 Copa America finals). However, they tasted defeat each time.
In 2016, the skipper had announced his retirement in an emotional tweet following his team's exit from Copa America. Hence, the 2021 Copa America was a huge win for Argentina and especially Messi.
Now, after finally laying hands on the coveted trophy, the Argentine captain must be happy about making the decision to come back. Argentina was grouped alongside Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Bolivia in group A this around.
They dominated the group with 10 points (3W, 1D, 0L). Lionel Scaloni's men went on to defeat Ecuador in the quarter-finals and then Colombia in the penultimate round of the tournament.
The Argentines then defeated a formidable Brazilian side in what was a dream final in front of the Maracana crowd. A commendable performance from Argentina in Copa America 2021 included six wins, one draw, 0 losses, 12 goals scored and just three conceded.
Let's take a look at the top 5 Argentina players who contributed the most towards their title-winning run.
#5 Nicolas Otamendi
Argentina's anchor in defense, Nicolas Otamendi, was impressive right from the start of the tournament. His experience was one of the biggest assets possessed by La Albiceleste during the competition.
The former Manchester City stopper was crucial for his side in the final, where he managed to stop Neymar from causing any harm.
Many questions were raised about Argentina's fragile backline ahead of the tournament. However, all the doubters got their answers and the majority of the credit goes to the Benfica centre-back. Despite being positioned alongside relatively inexperienced players, Otamendi helped lead Argentina to glory.
Argentina conceded just two goals while Otamendi was guarding their defensive line.
#4 Lautaro Martinez
Imagine taking the responsibility of spearheading your team's attack alongside Leo Messi? Well, Lautaro Martinez made it look easy.
The Inter Milan forward has been in fine form for quite some time now in the Serie A. He was equally impressive in his national jersey as well. Martinez performed consistently throughout the tournament and played a major role in Argentina's title win.
Despite playing second fiddle to Lionel Messi, he scored thrice in the competition (just one shy of his captain).
#3 Emiliano Martinez
Argentina conceded the least number of goals (3) in Copa America 2021. They share this record with Brazil.
However, this wouldn't have been possible without the man who stood between the sticks for La Albiceleste — Damián Emiliano Martínez Romero!
The 28-year-old Aston Villa goalkeeper bagged the Golden Glove for his stellar performance over the course of the tournament.
In the recent past, Argentina have fared poorly in penalty shootouts that have cost them consecutive Copa America finals. For the same reason, Argentine fans around the globe would have had their hearts in their mouths when the semifinal clash against Colombia went to a penalty shootout.
This time though, the ending was different. Emiliano Martinez saved three penalties and handed his team the ticket to the final. He also produced two sensational saves against Brazil in the final.
#2 Rodrigo De Paul
Arguably the best player for the champions after Lionel Messi, Rodrigo De Paul filled operated as the team's most effective midfielder.
The 27-year-old was an important element of the team in what was just his second major international tournament. De Paul's only goal in the competition came against Ecuador in the quarter-finals.
De Paul cemented his name in the history of Argentine football with his crucial assist in the final. His displays at the tournament even earned him a five-year contract with the La Liga champions — Atletico Madrid.
#1 Lionel Messi
The man, the myth, the legend, the GOAT! One can never fall short of adjectives while describing this little magician.
Arguably the best player to have ever graced the game had one thing missing from his career, a major international trophy. Despite coming close on multiple occasions, fate kept denying Messi what he yearned the most.
However, that's a story of the past now. Lionel Messi has finally won an international trophy with Argentina. He also bagged the Player of the Tournament award in the process with the most goals (4) and most assists (5).
The world came together to congratulate the Argentina captain who has shed blood, sweat and tears for his team. Messi led his side from the front and never looked out-of-form throughout the tournament.
Also Check Out: Argentina Squad for Copa America