Brazil and Argentina have a long fabled rivalry in football. Brazilians have been dominant on the world stage but Argentina have enjoyed more success closer to home in the Copa America. The latest chapter in this rivalry will be written on 10th July when the two face off against each at the Maracana in the final of Copa America 2021. FootTheBall brings to you the stats around the tournament, the rivalry and the sub-plots.
COPA 2021 STANDOUT PERFORMERS
The Copa America in Brazil has given us some iconic moments – from Brazil’s free scoring start to stubborn Peru reaching the semifinals and to Emi Martinez saving three penalties to send Argentina through to the final. Here are the top performers in different statistics in this year’s Copa
Goals – Lionel Messi, Argentina (4)
Assists – Lionel Messi, Argentina (5)
Expected Goals (xG) – Lautaro Martinex (4.6)
Pressures – Yoshimar Yotun, Peru (167)
Clearances – Yerry Mina, Colombia (42)
Blocks – Aldo Corzo, Peru (18)
Nutmegs – Neymar (6)
Interceptions – William Barrios, Colombia (16)
Clean Sheets – Emiliano Martinez, Argentina; David Ospina, Colombia; Ederson, Brazil; Fernando Muslera, Uruguay (3 each)
Saves – Pedro Gallese, Peru (28)
NEYMAR VS MESSI
Brazil and Argentina’s respective talismans have unsurprisingly been the two standout attacking players and nearly all the attacking metrics represent that. Neymar and Messi trade the top two places amongst the following attacking metrics
Assists – Messi (5), Neymar (3)
Goals + Assists – Messi (9), Neymar (5)
Expected Assists – Neymar (2.9), Messi (2.8)
Shots Taken – Messi (24), Neymar (20)
Shots Taken/90 – Neymar (4.00), Messi (3.79)
Key Passes – Messi (20), Neymar (15)
Passes into Penalty Area – Neymar (14), Messi (11)
Through Balls – Messi (4), Neymar (3)
Shot Creating Actions – Messi (42), Neymar (34)
Shot Creating Actions/90 – Neymar (6.80), Messi (6.63)
Players Dribbled Past – Messi (33), Neymar (30)
Fouls drawn – Neymar (25), Messi (22)
Argentina have suffered a lot in recent years on the international stage but they still remain historically one of the strongest teams in the Copa America. Here are some stats regarding their performances in the Copa America
36 – Copa 2021 will be the 36th time Argentina finish in the top four of the South America championships, edging ahead of Uruguay with whom they were level on at 35 prior to this tournament
34 – Lionel Messi will equal the record for most appearances in the Copa America/South American Championships. The Argentine will go level with Chile’s Sergio Livingstone on 34 matches played, who made these appearances across six Copa America tournaments between 1941 and 1953. Messi already broke Javier Mascherano’s appearance record for Argentina in their group stage game against Bolivia
29 – This will be the 29th time Argentina finishes in the top two of the South American championships – eight more than second placed Uruguay
28 – The number of years since Argentina’s last Copa America triumph in 1993. Since then, they have finished as runners-up four times. They have not won the World Cup during this time period, with the 2004 and 2008 Olympics golds as the only achievements of note.
15 – Argentina will equal Uruguay’s record of most Copa America titles if they manage to beat Brazil on Saturday
10 TO 1
Here are our 10 key facts and figures around the Copa America final between Brazil and Argentina set to take place at the Maracana on Saturday.
10 – If the Copa America final goes to penalties, then Argentina will go level with Uruguay on most number of penalty shootouts played. If they manage to win the penalty shootout, they would go level with Brazil on most shootout wins with 5
9 – The number of Copas won by Brazil. The Selecao may have won the most number of World Cups but their dominance is not unchallenged on the continent and they are a long way off leaders Uruguay.
8 – The number of draws between Argentina and Brazil in Copa America history. The two sides have faced each other 33 times in the South American championships with Brazil winning 10 matches and Argentina having the upper hand with 15. A draw will be unlocked via a penalty shootout and Brazil will be hoping to cut the gap in terms of both match results and overall Copa trophies to Argentina.
7 – The current joint rank of Lionel Messi in the all-time top goalscorers at the Copa America with 13 strikes. Norberto Mendez and Zizinho lead the way with 17 goals each, Lolo Fernandez and Severino Varela have 15 each while modern-day cult heroes Paulo Gurrero and Eduardo Vargas have 14 goals to their name.
6 – The number of matches Emiliano Martinez had played for Argentina before the semi-final against Colombia. The Aston Villa man has made an instant impact for the Albiceleste despite having minimal game time under his belt, having made his debut this summer at the age of 28
5 – Tite could become the fifth manager to win the Copa America more than once should his Brazil side triumph on Saturday. Guillermo Stabile (Argentina, Ernesto Figoli (Uruguay), Juan Carlos Corazzo (Uruguay), and Alfio Basile (Argentina) are the other four managers to have achieved the feat
4 – The number of direct free kicks scored by Lionel Messi in Copa Americas – the highest for an individual in the history of the tournament
3 – This is the third time the two rivals are facing each other in a one-off deciding final. The previous two occasions were the 2004 and 2007 editions. Brazil triumphed both times – beating Argentina on penalties in 2004 before thumping them 3-0 in the 2007 showpiece.
2 – Neymar’s rank on Brazil’s all time top-scorer list. He has scored 68 goals for the Selecao, nine fewer than Pele. Given the time he has ahead of him, it is inevitable that the PSG man will overtake the Santos legend
1 – It will be the first major trophy (Copa America or World Cup) won by either Lionel Messi or Neymar on the international stage. Their heartbreaks of final defeats and last minute injuries are well documented and this curse will be broken at the Maracana, in whose favour remains to be seen.
0 – The combined number of Copa and World Cup trophies won by Pele and Diego Maradona. Two of the greatest to ever play the game never lifted the trophy but one of their successors in Messi and Neymar will outdo them on Saturday – who will it be?