Copa America. Messi’s Argentina and Vinicius’ Brazil attack the title in the United States

Copa America. Messi’s Argentina and Vinicius’ Brazil attack the title in the United States
Copa America. Messi’s Argentina and Vinicius’ Brazil attack the title in the United States

The reigning Argentine world champions, led by their totem Lionel Messi, and Vinicius Jr’s Brazil, in great shape, are dreaming of the 48e Copa America, played in the United States, from this Thursday, June 20 until July 14. The tournament launches a series of three major competitions in the land of “soccer”, before the new version of the FIFA Club World Cup in 2025 then the 48-country Gigantism World Cup co-organized with Mexico and Canada in 2026 Lionel Messi has not ruled out still being present in 2026, but he is currently eyeing the Copa America, which he finally won with Argentina in 2021.

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In an experienced group which includes 22 world champions, Messi obviously finds Angel di Maria or even Lautaro Martinez. The eight-time Ballon d’Or, who will celebrate his 37th birthday on June 24, will open the competition against Canada on Thursday in Atlanta before a shock in the first round on June 25 against Chile, a reminder of the two finals lost by the Albiceleste in 2015 and 2016.

“Well prepared”

Messi is even more the face of this Copa since he has been playing at Inter Miami since July 2023. The city with its Latino accent (the community most focused on “soccer” in the USA) is establishing itself as the new stronghold of American football, where the final of the tournament will take place and where Fifa has set up offices. Freed from the rhythm and harshness of European football, Messi offers himself the luxury of arriving fresher at the Copa, little affected by the senatorial train of the MLS championship, where he continues to pile up the goals (12 after 19 days ) without being reproached for his lack of shopping.

With his dragster acceleration, Vinicius Junior brought European football into line, recently winning a second Champions League with Real Madrid, and establishing himself as leader of Brazil, another South American giant, in the absence of Neymar, operated in November for a rupture of the cruciate ligaments and the meniscus of the left knee.

“I haven’t won a national title yet, I hope to do so now. We prepared well. This generation is strong and we want to do great things with the Seleçao,” said Vinicius, who will turn 24 on July 12. He will play in the Seleçao with his Real teammates Rodrygo (attacker) and Eder Militao (defender), and will be able to cover his future Madrid teammate Endrick, the new star of Auriverde football who is playing his first major tournament at the age of 17.

World Cup aperitif

Co-record holder for the number of victories in the competition with Argentina (15), Uruguay advances with Darwin Nunez and the eternal Luis Suarez, Messi’s teammate in Miami, but without Edinson Cavani, who announced his retirement international at the end of May. The Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa will be sitting on the bench (or the cooler) of Celeste, in search of a first personal Copa after his failures with Argentina.

As in 2016, for the Centenary Copa, the competition will take place in the United States with a format expanded to 16 teams, the ten usual South American competitors of Conmebol being joined by six members of Concacaf (North America, Central and Caribbean). The Copa and its 32 matches serves as an aperitif before the 2026 World Cup and its 104 matches, including 78 in the United States. Eight stadiums are part of the system for the two competitions, including the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and the MetLife Stadium in New York, the future home of the World Cup final.

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The American host, with a team in full doubt, a priori lacks arguments to compete with the major South American nations, despite the draw against Brazil (1-1) last week in a preparation match.

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