The Argentines, who had not won a title since the 1993 Copa América, achieved their dream ‘Maracanazo’ guided by Lionel Messi, who lifted the first trophy with his team
Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 on Saturday in the final of the Copa América with a goal from Ángel Di María at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro and, with its fifteenth continental trophy, ended a 28-year fast without titles .
The Argentines, who had not won a title since the 1993 Copa América, achieved their dream ‘Maracanazo’ guided by Lionel Messi – who lifted his first trophy with Argentina – who, despite his opaque performance in the final, was chosen as one one of the best in the tournament.
The victory brought the number of games in which Argentina is not defeated to 20, halted Brazil’s 13-game undefeated series and allowed the visitors to take revenge for the defeat suffered in the 2019 Copa América semifinals against the Brazilians and avoid the second consecutive title for Canarinha.
The historic rivals dedicated the first minutes to studying each other and, despite the fact that Brazil tried to take control, little came close to the goal defended by Emiliano Martínez. Argentina also preferred short passes before trying to advance to Éderson’s goal but without giving up counterattacks that always looked for Di María playing as a winger on the right.
Brazil pressed with Paquetá, Neymar and Richarlison but without any completion and many times stopped with fouls by the Argentines. But at a time when Brazil was taking the initiative and getting closer to Emiliano Martínez’s goal, Di María, in the first Argentine finish of the match, opened the scoring in the 22nd minute on a counterattack.
The French PSG striker received a long shot from Rodrigo De Paul and took advantage of a failure by winger Renan Lodi to advance and, with a balloon, beat goalkeeper Éderson and silence the Brazilian fans.
Di María, whose starting lineup was surprising because he had not been taken advantage of from the beginning, became the most dangerous Argentine thanks to the fact that, with the Brazilians more concerned with Messi, he found many free spaces.
The attacker starred in three other dangerous counterattacks in the first half that scared the Brazilians, in the last of which he felt an uncomfortable leg for which he had to be treated.
Brazil had their best opportunity in the first half in the 30th minute when Neymar received a shot from goalkeeper Éderson and was fouled by Paredes near the area. Neymar himself took the free kick but his ball hit the wall.
La Canarinha, with difficulties to overcome the Argentine defense, went to rest with only five finishes, all blocked by the defenders, and without any scare for Martínez. The hosts came back better in the second half with the decision of the coach, Tite, to sacrifice Fred at the wheel to make room for striker Roberto Firmino, with which Neymar fell back a bit to play as a midfielder.
In just ten minutes the Brazilians generated three clear scoring opportunities, including one in which Richarlison scored a goal that was canceled out of place and another in which Martinez had to save on the line a strong shot from the same attacker.
Amid the Brazilian pressure, the Argentine coach, Lionel Scaloni, decided to strengthen his defense in an attempt to manage the partial advantage and overloaded the intermediary with the entries of Guido Rodríguez and Nicolás Tagliafico. Brazil further strengthened their attack with the entry of the speedy Vinicius Júnior and Flamengo striker Gabriel Barbosa ‘Gabigol’.
Although Neymar assumed the responsibility of leading the Brazilian offensive and began to appear more frequently, the reinforced Argentine defense was effective in neutralizing the insistence of the locals. Brazil pressed in the final minutes, mainly with Vinicius on the left and Gabigol in the center, but failed in the finishes. Martinez saved Argentina with three minutes to go by saving a shot at Gabigol.
1. Argentina: Emanuel Martínez; Gonzalo Montiel, Cristian Romero (m.79, Germán Pezzella), Nicolás Otamendi, Marcos Acuña; Ángel Di María (m.79, Exequiel Palacios), Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes (m.54, Guido Rodríguez), Giovani Lo Celso (m.63, Nicolás Tagliafico); Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martínez (m.79, Nicolás González).
Coach: Lionel Scaloni.
0. Brazil: Ederson; Danilo, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Renan Lodi (d.76, Emerson); Casemiro, Fred (m.45, Roberto Firmino), Lucas Paquetá (m.76, Gabigol); Richarlison, Neymar and Éverton Cebolinha (d.63, Vinicius Júnior).
Goal: 1-0, m.22: Ángel Di María.
Referee: Uruguayan Esteban Ostojich admonished Fred, Paredes, Lo Celso, De Paul, Lodi, Paquetá, Otamendi, Marquinhos and Montiel.
Incidents: match for the final of the Copa América played at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro before some 2,000 guests.
Messi: «It is inexplicable what it feels like»
Argentine star Lionel Messi said that “it is inexplicable what it feels like” after winning the Copa América against historic rival Brazil in the citadel of Maracana.
“Crazy. What he feels is inexplicable. I had to leave sad and I knew it was going to happen to me. This group deserved it. I’m happy, “said Messi hours after the triumph that ended a negative streak in Argentina of 28 years without winning titles.
The 34-year-old captain from Albiceleste also took off this Saturday a heavy backpack loaded with three lost Copa América finals (2007, 2015 and 2016). «I needed to get rid of the thorn to win something with the National Team. It was many, many years. I knew that at some point it was going to happen. It was in Brazil and beating Brazil. I am grateful, “the star told reporters while hugging the trophy that had been denied him on several occasions.
«You have to take advantage. I already told the boys that they are the future of the national team. And they already demonstrated it. I already knew the boys. It is a spectacular group. I feel happy being a part with them. These 45 days ended in an impressive way, “he added. The albiceleste began a process of change with players who were vital in this year’s Copa América such as Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes and Cristian Romero.