Argentina will play Brazil on Saturday in the Copa America 2021 final at the Maracana Stadium.
Lionel Scaloni's men beat Colombia in the semi-final on penalties to reach the final, while Tite's Brazil edged past Peru to qualify for the title match. Argentina and Brazil were the best teams in the competition and deserve to be in the final.
Two of the best players in the world, Argentina's Lionel Messi and Brazil's Neymar, will lock horns on Sunday. The two forwards enjoy a good relationship, having playing together for Barcelona. But they will keep their friendship aside in the final, as each player will strive to win the final for his team.
Brazil have a star-studded squad at Copa America 2021, but they could struggle against Argentina in the title match. On that note, let's take a look at five reasons why that could happen.
#5 Brazil lack a bonafide striker for the final against Argentina
Neymar is one of the best attacking players in the game, but the Brazilian is not a conventional striker. For both club and country, the superstar predominantly operates on the left wing.
Against Argentina in the Copa America 2021 final, that could be a problem, as Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus is suspended. Everton's Richarlison and Flamengo's Gabriel Barbosa could be plausible options, but the former did not enjoy the best of seasons with his club in 2020-21.
Argentina's centre-backs are physical and aggressive, so Neymar will need all the help he can get. Both Barbosa and Richarlison are supremely gifted players who have done well at Copa America 2021 so far, So they will have to be at their very best against Argentina to help Brazil win the title.
Also Read: Euro 2020: 5 players who deserve more playing time.
#4 Brazil's lack of creativity in midfield
Once again, Neymar's creativity is unparalleled, and he will be the main threat for Brazil against Argentina.
However, Brazil's midfield, barring Lucas Paqueta, boast little creativity. Casemiro and Fred have enjoyed good Copa America 2021 campaigns so far. But the two are not renowned for their creative prowess.
Brazil's other midfield options are Fabinho and Douglas Luiz.
It will not be a surprise if Paqueta does start against Argentina. The Lyon midfielder is highly creative and enjoyed a good debut season in France. Paqueta has shone in the latter stages of Copa America 2021 and could provide some much-needed spark against Argentina.
Also Read: Fabrizio Romano's Transfer Roundup: Manchester United pushing for 2 more transfers, Barcelona's plans for Lionel Messi, and more.
#3 Brazil's full-backs
Brazil have a plethora of talent in their Copa America 2021 squad, and their full-backs play for some of the biggest clubs in the world.
However, if one looks at each full-back individually, Brazil might have a problem. Danilo and Alex Sandro, both of whom play for Juventus, enjoyed fairly good seasons, even as the Old Lady struggled as a team.
Meanwhile, Emerson Royal of Real Betis arguably enjoyed the best season out of all four Brazil full-backs, while Renan Lodi barely featured for Atletico Madrid in their title-winning campaign.
Argentina's main threat will come from their wings, especially in the form of Lionel Messi. So Brazil manager Tite will have to pick his full-backs carefully against Argentina.
#2 Emiliano Martinez's form
One can argue that Emiliano Martinez is one of the best goalkeepers in the world on current form.
Martinez was one of the best custodians last season in the Premier League. He is now the first-choice goalkeeper for Argentina despite making his Albiceleste debut only this year.
The 28-year-old enjoyed a stunning game against Colombia in the Copa America 2021 semi-final, saving three penalties in the shootout to help Argentina qualify for the final.
For now, Argentina's no.1 jersey for the next few years is in safe hands. Martinez is enjoying his best spell as a professional player, and Brazil could find it difficult to score past him.
#1 The Lionel Messi factor
Lionel Messi has comfortably been the best player at Copa America 2021, and the game against Colombia showed a usually reserved Messi's more passionate side.
The Barcelona superstar has registered four goals and five assists for Argentina and has looked unstoppable at times. Given the form he is in, it would not be surprising to see Messi single-handedly take the game away from Brazil in the final.
The supporting cast around is Messi is talented as well, so Argentina have a good chance of ending their long trophy drought. The 34-year old is one of the greatest to have played the game, and winning an international trophy with Argentina could cement his legacy as the greatest player of all time.
#3 Lucas Paquetá
Lucas Paquetá was arguably the best player for Tite's side in the knockout stages of the Copa America 2021. The Lyon striker has two goals in the competition for Brazil. Both were the only goals in Brazil's games against Chile in quarters and Peru in semis.
Out of the six games played in total, two of them came from the bench for Paquetá. Nevertheless, he has been equally influential for the former Copa America champions as any starter. Lucas linked quite well with the likes of Neymar and Richarlison to keep the ball in the opposition's half for the majority of many games.
The Brazilian number 17 was quick to create an impact when used as a substitute. When Paquetá scored against Chile, he had been on the pitch for less than a minute. The left-footed forward earned his coach's favor and was often preferred over Liverpool man Roberto Firmino.
Marquinhos, alongside his former teammate, Thiago Silva, held the Brazilian defensive line quite well throughout the tournament. The duo had an incredible run where they conceded just three goals in the entire competition. Unfortunately, one of those was against Argentina in the final.
Nevertheless, the Brazilian center-backs earned appreciation for their sheer dedication and consistent performance. However, among the two, Marquinhos is the man who stood out. The PSG captain scored the very first goal (against Venezuela) for his country in the Copa America 2021.
In addition to his game reading skills, Marquinhos' pace and aerial abilities proved was crucial for Brazil. He was a key figure in setting the ball for a counter-attack on numerous occasions.
Marquinhos was also picked as the center-back alongside Argentina's Romero in the Copa America Team of the Tournament.
Three goals, three assists and three Man of the Match awards. Do we need anything else to confirm Neymar as Brazil's top player at Copa America 2021?
The former Barcelona star entered the tournament with a lot expected from him. Even though he lost the trophy to his former teammate Leo Messi, it wouldn't be wrong to say Neymar lived up to expectations at the tournament.
Neymar's pinpoint corner-kick to find Casemiro in the dying seconds of Brazil's group stage game against Columbia was one of the stand-out moments in the tournament this year.
$3 $3 $3$3 $3$3 $3 View this post on Instagram$3 $3$3 $3 $3 $3$3 $3 $3$3 $3 $3 $3 $3 $3 $3
A post shared by Copa América (@copaamerica)
Neymar also did his best for the hosts against rivals Argentina in the final. Despite having a couple of shots on target and a lot of possession in the box, the former Barcelona number 11 failed to hit the back of the net.
Neymar was also the third Brazilian player to be featured in the 2021 Copa America Team of the Tournament.
Also Check Out: Brazil Match Schedule for Copa America