Copa America final: Brazil vs Argentina
Lots of subtexts in this game and a chance to see Lionel Messi with the goal of the tournament taking on Robinho, the top scorer so far with six. The match is not just about these two players but it is also about their clubs as they pushed each other in the race for the Liga title with Real just squeaking through on a better head to head with Barca. Overlying all this is the Argentinians bitter loss in the 2004 Copa on penalties. Carlos Tevez is billing this as a revenge final.
However the biggest claim. The Argentinians are claiming that they are the ones playing Jogo Bonito, implying that the Seleccao have given up that distinction.
Some how I don't think Dunga mourns the loss of Jogo Bonito if he comes away with a win today, no matter how ugly. Lets face it, Brazil's Jogo Bonito has for a long time been used as product placement to sell Adidas. On the field, it has practically disappeared.
Dunga, a tough central midfield player and former captain, has a selection of responses to that. “The media seem to think the beautiful game is just about dribbling,” he said. “For a defender, beauty is about a great piece of anticipation. For a goalkeeper, it’s a decisive save. For a full-back, it’s making a great cross. If we carry on this debate about beautiful football, we’ll wait another 24 years before we win the World Cup again.” This refers to the dry years as Brazil won in 1970 and then waited till 1994 for their next title. Of course, Dunga fails to mention that the 1970 Brazil team was arguably the greatest in history a distinction that can hardly be used to define the 1994 team.
Dunga would have started three holding midfielders in Gilberto Silva, Minero, and Josue, but Gilberto Silva is out with a suspension and his replacement is the more attack minded Elano. He unites with his Sao Paulo partner, Josue. For Argentina, it is the same lineup that won against Mexico, as Tevez gets the start over Crespo, who returns from injury.
There is not much statistically different with these two teams. They have met 87 times. Each has 33 wins and drawn 21 times. Goals scored: Argentina 142 and Brazil 134. However over the years, qualitatively, Brazil's emphasis on how to play the game has dropped off, as their focus has shifted to the more practical matter of winning matches. Argentina, on the other hand, after seeing a dip in soccer attractiveness in the '90s and early 2000's has roared back, playing beautiful soccer.
Argentina deserves to be champions the way they are playing. They have the better players who are playing attractive soccer. The Argentinians won the Copa in 1993 which was also their last time that they won any major silverware. But this is Dunga's Brazil playing their version of catenaccio. So don't count them out.
Prediction: Argentina 2 Brazil 1.