The 2015 Copa America comes to a conclusion in Santiago on Saturday, with two of the pre-tournament favourites fighting it out for the trophy.
Hosts Chile are on form and brimming with confidence as they seek to win the competition for the very first time, while star-studded Argentina, who turned on the style in their semi-final defeat of Paraguay, are aiming to lift their first Copa in over two decades.
With a place at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 also at stake, neither side will be lacking in motivation ahead of the latest instalment in their long-running rivalry.
Chile could not be in better shape heading into the final. In disposing of Uruguay in the last eight and Peru in the semis, La Roja showed that all the talk of them being title candidates was justified. Coached by the Argentinian Jorge Sampaoli, the hosts boast the tournament’s top scorer in Eduardo Vargas, who has four goals to his name, the wizardry of Jorge Valdivia and the matchwinning abilities of Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez, both of whom are on top of their games. Appearing in their fifth Copa America final, the Chileans are anxious to break with the past and win the competition for the first time, which would make them the first hosts to lift the trophy since Colombia in 2001.
Argentina have gathered momentum as the tournament has progressed. Only showing glimpses of their best football in the group phase, they saw off Colombia on penalties in the quarter-finals before finally hitting top gear in the 6-1 demolition of Paraguay in the semis. With Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi back to their very best in that game, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ runners-up have good reason to be confident as they bid to end their 22-year trophy drought in all competitions. Saturday’s match will be coach Gerardo Martino’s second consecutive appearance in a Copa America final, El Tata having taken Paraguay to the deciding match of Argentina 2011.