For Messi, Tonight Spells Heartbreak Or The Most Stunning Achievement Of His Career

The stage is set for the most eagerly anticipated match of the 2019 Copa América: It’s a semifinal showdown between eternal South American rivals Brazil and Argentina at the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte. 64,000 will be willing the home side to victory and the final, but standing in the Seleção’s way is that man Lionel Messi. 

Messi, of course, has never obtained international glory with La Albiceleste. He’s lost three Copa finals, including a 3-0 defeat to Brazil at the ’07 final in Venezuela, but he finds himself just two wins away from getting that thirty-five-pound monkey off his back.  

But doing as much would perhaps constitute the most miraculous achievement of his career. This is an Argentina side very much in transition under interim manager Lionel Scaloni. Brazil, on the other hand, is hugely experienced and built to win now, even without the injured Neymar.

Brazil vs Argentina Copa America 2019 Time, Channel, Preview and Prediction

Brazil vs. Argentina 2019 Copa America Semifinal 

Time: 8:30 p.m. ET | Date: Tuesday, July 2
Location: The Mineirão, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
TV Channel: ESPN+ and Telemundo
Streaming: ESPN+, FuboTV, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo 

Brazil vs Argentina Copa America 2019 Preview

Brazil enters this match after being surprisingly pushed to the brink by Paraguay in the quarters. Brazil absolutely dominated the proceedings (outshooting Paraguay 26-5), but the match immediately went to penalties after a scoreless 90 minutes (extra time isn’t played until the semis/final). Brazil held its nerve in the shootout with Gabriel Jesus converting the winner after Derlis González shot wide for Paraguay.

The big news for Brazil heading into the semifinal is that Casemiro returns from his yellow card suspension. As evidenced by the match against Paraguay and during the 2018 World Cup quarterfinal defeat against Belgium, the Seleção is a much better team with him in the starting XI.

In 360 minutes of play at this tournament, Brazil is yet to concede a goal. The backline of Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Filipe Luís has been impeccable, and behind them is perhaps the world’s best keeper, Liverpool’s Alisson.

Six different players have found the back of the net for Brazil, but Philippe Coutinho and Everton Soares are the leading scorers with two each.

Argentina’s quarterfinal victory over Venezuela was more straightforward. Lautaro Martínez gave his side the lead in the 10th minute with a clever flick following a corner, and Giovani Lo Celso put things to bed in the 74th minute after Venezuela keeper Wuilker Faríñez spilled a shot from Sergio Agüero.

It was just the sort of match La Albiceleste needed following a group stage that included a 2-0 defeat to Colombia and a 1-1 draw with Paraguay. Qualification to the knockout stage was only secured with a 2-0 victory over Qatar.

Messi’s only goal of the tournament so far was a penalty in that draw with Paraguay, but perhaps Argentina is finally onto something with a front three of Messi, Agüero and Martínez.

The bigger question for Argentina is how players like Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes, Germán Pezzella and Juan Foyth will deal with Brazil’s attack while playing in the biggest match of their young international careers.

The madness of the buildup began Monday night with Brazil supporters letting off three waves of fireworks — beginning at 1:15 a.m. — near Argentina’s hotel in central Belo Horizonte. It’s also been reported that Argentina players received wake up calls at 6:30 a.m., although none of them asked for one.

The winner of this semifinal plays the winner of Chile vs. Peru in the final on Sunday at the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. 

Brazil vs Argentina 2019 Copa America Prediction

Brazil 2-1 Argentina

Messi provides a moment of magic for Argentina’s goal, but every Brazil foray forward will look ominously dangerous. The Seleção wins this one with the match-winner arriving around the 70 or 80 minute mark.     

Videos you might like