Argentina v Chile: Messi rides again in pursuit of Copa success

By Sports Desk June 13, 2021

Lionel Messi begins his latest quest for international glory on Monday when Argentina start their Copa America campaign against Chile.

Twice a losing finalist in 2015 and 2016 - each time to Chile - the Albiceleste came third at the tournament two years ago after losing in the semi-finals to Brazil.

While they did at least defeat La Roja in that bronze-medal match, those two penalty shoot-out losses were tough to swallow for Messi, who has been unable to match his remarkable club success for his country.

Only Uruguay (15) have won this tournament more often than Argentina (14), but their last title came in 1993 and they have lost four consecutive finals, having also been beaten in 2004 and 2007.

Argentina hold the records for both most goals scored (462) and most appearances (195) in the history of the Copa America and can at least feel buoyed by the fact they have not lost a match since that 2-0 defeat to Brazil in the last four in 2019.

They drew with Chile and Colombia in their most recent matches in World Cup qualifying, each time after taking the lead, but there appears to be a growing belief within the squad around coach Lionel Scaloni's ideas.

"The truth is the team is really well, the group is really well. We're getting to know each other more and consolidating the coaching staff's idea," Giovani Lo Celso said this week, as per Ole.

"As we know, all South American teams and matches are very difficult. It's all very balanced, very competitive and we know there are no easy games. It's going to be a very difficult group."

Chile's preparations were blighted by a foot injury suffered by Alexis Sanchez, with the Inter forward not now expected to be fit until the knockout phase.

They have only won three matches since the previous tournament and have only played three games this year under coach Martin Lasarte, who took charge in February.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Argentina – Lionel Messi

Still the go-to star for Argentina 16 years after his debut, this year's Copa America and the 2022 World Cup look like being Messi's final chances for international glory.

He might be turning 34 this month, but his powers remain imperious: he was directly involved in 50 goals (38 scored, 12 assisted) in 47 games for Barcelona in 2020-21. Only three players in Europe's top-five leagues managed more.

Chile – Carlos Palacios

An unknown at senior tournament level, Carlos Palacios will be familiar to some crowds in Brazil, having joined Internacional on loan from Union Espanola this year.

Still awaiting a first start for his country, the 20-year-old could well be called upon in the absence of Sanchez as Chile bid to come through Group B games with Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Argentina are unbeaten in their 28 Copa America clashes with Chile. Their 28 games are the most against a single opponent without defeat in their Copa America history.
- Chile's two Copa America titles came in consecutive editions – claiming glory in both the 2015 and 2016 tournaments.
- Argentina have beaten every single opponent in this year's Copa America more times than they have lost to them in tournament history.
- Chile made it at least to the quarter-finals in seven of the past eight editions.

Related items

  • Former Aston Villa and Northern Ireland defender Chris Nicholl dies at age of 77 Former Aston Villa and Northern Ireland defender Chris Nicholl dies at age of 77

    Former Southampton and Northern Ireland defender Chris Nicholl, who captained Aston Villa to League Cup glory, has died at the age of 77.

    Nicholl, who also managed Southampton before taking charge of Walsall, had been living with dementia, specifically chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which he attributed to brain damage caused by repeatedly heading balls over his lengthy career.

    The former central defender’s death was confirmed in a family statement on his daughter Cathy’s Facebook account.

    It said: “It is with a heavy heart that we write this. Chris Nicholl (our dad) sadly passed away peacefully on Saturday evening in hospital.

    “He fought a very long battle with CTE, caused by his dedication to football. Words can’t describe how much we’ll miss him.”

    Wilmslow-born Nicholl, who was capped 51 times by Northern Ireland and represented them at the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, began his career at Burnley, but made more than 200 appearances for both Villa and the Saints.

    A dependable defender, he famously scored with a 40-yard piledriver as Villa lifted the 1977 League Cup with a 3-2 second replay victory over Everton which went to extra time at Old Trafford.

    In a series of posts on the club’s official X – formerly Twitter – account, Villa said: “Aston Villa is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former player Chris Nicholl, who has died at the age of 77.

    “The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Chris’ family and friends at this difficult time.

    “A two-time promotion and League Cup winner, Chris Nicholl’s achievements in claret and blue will never be forgotten.

    “He was a dominant figure at the heart of the Aston Villa defence for over five seasons, making 252 appearances and scoring 20 goals.

    “Rest in peace, Chris.”

    After hanging up his boots, Nicholl moved into management at the Dell when he was appointed as Lawrie McMenemy’s replacement during the summer of 1985, and it was he who promoted the emerging talents of Alan Shearer, Matt Le Tissier and Rod Wallace to the Southampton first team.

    Shearer said on X: “RIP Chris Nicholl. You believed in me and gave me my chance. Thank you.”

    Le Tissier added: “The thoughts and prayers of my family go out to the family of my first manager Chris Nicholl, who has sadly passed away.

    “I’ll always be eternally grateful to Chris for having the faith in me as a 17 year old boy to give me my opportunity to prove I was good enough to be a professional footballer. Gone, but never forgotten #RIPChris.”

    Nicholl parted company with the Saints in May 1991 and spent three years out of the game before taking the hotseat at Walsall.

    The Saddlers said on X: “We are devastated to learn that former manager Chris Nicholl has passed away.

    “Chris led the Saddlers from 1994 to 1997 and won promotion to Division Two in what was a memorable 1994-95 campaign.

    “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.”

    Nicholl was reunited with McMenemy during his spell in charge of Northern Ireland, serving as his assistant manager.

    A statement on the Irish FA’s X account said: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Chris Nicholl. He played 51 times for us, including the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

    “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time”

    In 2017, Nicholl told Shearer as part of a BBC documentary of his fears over the damage he had suffered during his playing career.

    He said: “I am brain-damaged from heading footballs. My memory is in trouble.

    “Everyone forgets regular things, where your keys are. But when you forget where you live, that’s different.

    “I’ve had that for the last four or five years, it is definitely getting worse. It bothers me.”

  • Jurgen Klopp savours ‘most special trophy’ after Liverpool win Carabao Cup Jurgen Klopp savours ‘most special trophy’ after Liverpool win Carabao Cup

    Liverpool’s Carabao Cup final victory over Chelsea was manager Jurgen Klopp’s “most special trophy” after they overcame more injury adversity to win 1-0 at Wembley after extra time.

    Already without 11 first-team players, they lost Ryan Gravenberch to an ankle problem after half-an-hour and finished the match with four academy players on the pitch but the youngsters held out long enough for captain Virgil van Dijk to head the 118th-minute winner.

    “In more than 20 years it is easily the most special trophy I have ever won. It is absolutely exceptional,” said Klopp, who is leaving the club at the end of the season and looked emotional on the pitch at the final whistle.

    “Sometimes people ask me if I’m proud of things and it’s really tricky, I wish I could feel pride more often but tonight is an overwhelming feeling.

    “I was proud of everyone involved in everything here: I was proud of our people (fans) for the way they pushed us, I was proud of the staff for creating this kind of atmosphere surrounding where these boys can just do what they are best at.

    “I was proud of our academy, I was proud of my coaches, I was proud of so many things. It was completely overwhelming.

    “It was nothing to do with it being maybe my last game at Wembley.

    “Can you create in football stories which definitely nobody will ever forget? It’s so difficult because ‘this’ happened before, ‘this’ happened before: this tonight, if you find the same story with academy players coming on against a top side and still winning it, I’ve never heard of it.

    “I loved it. What we see here today is so exceptional. We might never see again. Not because I’m on the sidelines but because these things don’t happen in football.

    “I got told there’s an English phrase ‘you don’t win trophies with kids’. I didn’t know that.”

    Victory extended Liverpool’s own record to 10 League Cups and was the seventh major trophy he has won since arriving at the club in 2015.

    His side are top of the Premier League and are one of the favourites for both the FA Cup and Europa League but Klopp has no interest in the sentimentality of his final few months.

    “I couldn’t care less about my legacy, I am not here to create one,” he added.

    “Nothing we’ve done in the last eight or nine years is replaceable, we couldn’t have done the same at another club. It was exactly made for this combination. It is fantastic.

    “We learned so much in that time, the people (fans) learned so much. That’s the one thing – it’s not a problem if a manager leaves, if these people would leave, our supporters, that would be a problem.

    “As long as they are the way they are, Liverpool Football Club will be fine and that’s the most important thing.

    “From time to time you need something to really celebrate. This was so special, you saw the game and saw the circumstances, they become bigger.

    “We had a ref (Chris Kavanagh) who was not up to the level of the game, that didn’t help one team or the other. There was no common sense again.

    “Then getting through all things. You see tired players. I have no clue who can play on Wednesday (against Southampton in the FA Cup) because we have players on the pitch until the end of the game who had problems.”

    Klopp reserved special praise for his captain, who put in a real leader’s performance to lift his first trophy since taking over from Jordan Henderson.

    “From the first day coming into the club (Van Dijk) was absolutely outstanding. Thank God he is in form, top shape. I think he learned an important lesson for himself: you always can win the game,” he said.

  • Lautaro Martinez scores twice as leaders Inter Milan cruise to big win at Lecce Lautaro Martinez scores twice as leaders Inter Milan cruise to big win at Lecce

    Inter Milan maintained their stunning start to 2024 with a 4-0 triumph at struggling Lecce.

    Lautaro Martinez (two), Davide Frattesi and Stefan De Vrij scored as Simone Inzaghi’s in-form team extended their winning run to 10 games in all competitions.

    The result saw the Nerazzurri re-establish their nine-point cushion over second-placed Juventus, who earlier edged Frosinone 3-2, with a game in hand. In contrast, Lecce were left just four points above the drop zone having collected only five wins from 26 games.

    Martinez was first to threaten for the visitors with an off-target header, before an Pontus Almqvist fired over for the Salentini at the other end after a free-kick had not been cleared.

    Inter broke the deadlock in the 15th minute. Kristjan Asllani found Martinez with a neat pass and the Argentinian brought the ball under control before holding off Ahmed Touba and beating goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone with a low right-foot finish.

    Henrikh Mkhitaryan dragged a left-foot shot wide as Inter sought to increase their advantage, before Antonio Gallo lashed wastefully wide for the hosts just past the half-hour mark.

    Alexis Blin headed over three minutes after the restart as Roberto D’Aversa’s team sought an equaliser. However, their hopes of a comeback were ended by two goals in the space of three minutes.

    Firstly, Martinez found Alexis Sanchez and the Chile international squared for Frattesi to convert from close range.

    Inzaghi brought on Marco Barella for Asllani immediately after the goal and it was 3-0 soon after, Frattesi turning provider with a square pass for Martinez, who tucked away his 22nd goal of the Serie A season.

    Roberto Piccoli fired over from distance for the hosts but substitute Lameck Banda had their best chance in the 66th minute, firing a left-foot shot just wide of the far post.

    Inter went up the other end and made it 4-0 when De Vrij headed in Federico Dimarco’s corner unchallenged in the 67th minute.

    A dismal night for the hosts was summed up when Piccoli fired weakly at Inter keeper Emil Audero, making his Serie A debut because of illness to regular number one Yann Sommer.

    Denzel Dumfries wasted a chance to make it 5-0 with a minute remaining when he headed wide from close range.

    However, it was a great night for Inzaghi, who was able to rest players and also made five substitutions, with an eye on Wednesday’s rescheduled San Siro clash against Atalanta.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.