Copa America 2015 Predictions, Analysis: Why Lionel Messi Will Bring Glory to Argentina
Last year's World Cup final featured a South American side that many felt was the team of destiny. It was not meant to be.
Argentina continued its international struggles on the world's biggest stage and will now look to settle for the consolation prize. Albeit, a very substantial one.
Winning the Copa America would be a validation for a number of this side's players, many of which might not be around for the next World Cup cycle or will be playing on the wrong side of their respective primes.
So what is Argentina's outlook in Chile this summer?
Argentina has hosted the tournament on nine different occasions and has actually had terrific success with 14 victories.
The wins have come in 1921, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1937, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1991 and 1993. Of those wins, six have come as hosts.
But there are a few patents to take note of. Since 1947, the team has won four of its 14 and since 1993, the nation has gone home empty. It has not been for a lack of trying. Argentina was in the final in both 2004 and 2007 and lost against Brazil; in 2007 the team was a favorite.
But few will forget the most recent display in 2011 when as the host nation, a team stocked with Lionel Messi, Ever Banega, Javier Mascherano, Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Esteban Cambiasso not only failed to win its group but stumbled in the first knockout round.
It was a disappointment of epic proportions, and many felt that Messi would never get it done for Argentina on the international stage.
He has yet to reverse that general feeling.
For Messi this might be a do or die tournament for his international legacy. That, of course, could be an overstatement, but he must face the facts. On June 24, when the quarterfinals of the Copa America begin, Messi will turn 28.
The world has seen his game evolve this season and watched him soar to heights no one has ever witnessed him reach. He is not only a deadly scorer but a consummate playmaker capable of making everyone around him better in the most efficient of means.
This is as healthy as Messi has been entering a summer tournament, and barring an injury, this might be the healthiest anyone will see him heading into any summer of his career. So for him the moment is now.
While he will have next year's Copa America to cement his international reputation, there is no telling how healthy he will be. In 2018, he will be 31, and his powers might be on the decline. No one knows how Messi's form will be in coming years, so for him this could be the defining tournament of his career for Argentina.
Other players that will be relied on will obviously be Angel di Maria, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero. Mascherano was stellar in Brazil and will need to be the general that keeps the defense compact. Aguero and di Maria will need better performances than those exhibited in the World Cup.
The most intriguing player of course will be Carlos Tevez, assuming he makes the cut. His rivalry with Messi in 2010 and 2011 has been well documented, but he remains a lethal sniper, and if he can find a way to work with the Barcelona man, then Argentina's forward line could be at its most dangerous in years.
Why Argentina will win
The pressure has never been higher for the Albiceleste. Argentina has not won anything of consequence since 1993. Messi is supposed to be the savior who brings glory back to his nation. He nearly did it in Brazil last year and is arguably in better form this time around with a mature squad that should know how to win. If the squad cannot do it now, then it is unlikely going to happen ever.
It also does not hurt to have a relatively easy group with no major competition outside of Uruguay (a team without Luis Suarez!). Look for Argentina to learn from the pain of Brazil and push itself all the way to the final.
Prediction: Argentina wins it all. This team is too good, has figured out how to win and Messi will be looking to finally bring some glory to his home country.
Subscribe to Latin Post!
Sign up for our free newsletter for the Latest coverage!