The Copa America Centenario comes down to Argentina and Chile, which seems entirely appropriate. With Brazil's collapse and Mexico's failure to meet some pre-tournament hype, these are almost certainly the two best teams in the field. It also happens to be a rematch of last year's Copa America final, which saw Chile lift the trophy due to some penalty kick prowess after 120 scoreless minutes of soccer.
There is distinct pressure on Argentina, who have not lifted a major trophy since 1993 despite being as prominent in world soccer as ever. They also have Lionel Messi, who can break the laws of physics and may not be a mere mortal human being. The Argentines end up among the favorites in most tournaments, so a 23 year gap is likely unbearable.
Chile, meanwhile, have the single most remarkable result of the tournament, tearing Mexico apart in the process of winning 7-0 in the quarterfinal round. Their all-action emphasis on attacking play at a high speed happens to be an ideal fit for their player pool, which is full of fast players who are dying to go forward. Interestingly, both teams love to high press, and seeing which side loses that particular game of chicken might be the most fascinating part of this final.
Argentina starting 11:
Messi & Co. look to end Argentina's 23-year trophy drought with this Starting XI in the #CopaAmerica final. #ARGvCHI pic.twitter.com/8BeOdQo9R7— FS1 (@FS1) June 26, 2016
Chile starting 11:
¡LOS ONCE DE LA GRAN FINAL! Esta es la formación de #LaRoja para enfrentar a Argentina #CopaAmerica #VamosChile pic.twitter.com/SAcGOPqdMH— Selección Chilena (@LaRoja) June 26, 2016
Match previews: Conor Dowley's preview hopes that this rematch is more of a spectacle than last year's final. Earlier today, we talked about how these teams got here while providing TV and streaming info.
What are you drinking?: Before the game I'll be at a party eating various smoked meat and drinking some kind of lighter beer (hoping for a respectable pilsner, but I'm not in charge of bringing the beer). When I come home to watch the game, it'll probably be a cup of iced coffee - late night last night catching up on yesterday's soccer overload - followed by regular old water.
Prediction: I've gone back and forth on this one. At times, I've felt like Chile's buzzsaw style of play will simply overwhelm anyone in this field. On the other hand, Argentina knows how to press as well, and their back four is more capable individually than Chile's. Ultimately, I think we'll see a high-tempo game that will provide a lot more to talk about than last year's final. Eduardo Vargas opens the scoring for Chile, but Messi will respond with two goals before halftime. Arturo Vidal will pull Chile back level, but Gonzalo Higuain will grab a late winner to end Argentina's long wait for a title (mercifully silencing the "Messi is not a great individual player until he is on a trophy-winning national team" crowd as well).
This is your place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.