Former Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Neymar will face each other in Saturday’s America’s Cup final in an attempt to end the hood that has affected some of their country’s biggest players as well. Like Brazilian Pele and Diego Maradona of Argentina before him, neither Messi nor Neymar have ever won the Cup. That statistic will change for one of them in the dream final at the prestigious Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. To win the Golden Ball, which Messi has won six times, will be the fourth round of the Cup and perhaps the last chance to finish on the winning side.
He has been a great player on his team, as always, scoring four goals and creating five more, leading the tournament in both categories.
At 34, it could be his last World Cup and next year’s World Cup could be his last major international tournament.
So far, the Final has only brought despair to Messi’s loss in the 2007, 2015 and 2016 Cups, and his team beat Germany 1-0 at the 2014 World Cup.
Some believe that winning something with Argentina is Messi’s only professional goal.
“We will try to let that goal be achieved,” Brazilian center-back Marquinhos said.
“As much as Messi, we also have players who deserve this title … he wasn’t like our‘ Ney ’in the last Cup,” he added.
The 29-year-old Neymar has a little more time on his side, but was injected two years ago and was missing when Brazil won their ninth title at home, beating Peru 3-1 in the final.
But on Saturday, in addition to aligning the two stars on opposite sides, it’s a classic match between the two weights in the world.
“We will play a final against the Eternal Rivals, the Continuals, the two strongest teams in South America and we hope … it will be a great match,” said Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni.
“Brazil versus Argentina is much more than just a football game … these jerseys put the world at a standstill to watch their matches. This represents the history of Brazil-Argentina,” Marquinhos added.
Incredibly, these two sides are not even the two most successful in the history of the Cup, as Uruguay has won 15 titles, 14 in Argentina and nine in Brazil.
This is also the 47th edition of the Copa, the only time the two have met in the final, Argentina won for the first time in 1937 and Brazil won in 2004 and 2007.
And that’s despite being confronted more than 100 times throughout history.
They have been the two strongest parties in the competition, although Argentina have touched the fortunes of Colombia in their victory in the penalties of the last semi-final.
Both teams are impressive for their deep strength.
When he took the win over Peru in the middle of the final – and despite the suspension of Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus – Brazil left Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, Flamenco’s Gabriel Barbosa and Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior star on the bench.
In the middle of the pitch, Liverpool’s Fabinho Manchester United’s resurgent Fred has been sidelined.
Also, Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel Di Maria – who had a huge spark when he entered the semi-final against Colombia – has mostly started on the bench, while Barcelona’s new signing Sergio Aguero has barely looked to Argentina.
Messi and Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez (three goals) have given Argentina the main attack, but they have quality and creativity.
“Argentina are not just Lautaro and Messi, we can’t concentrate on just two of them,” said Casemiro Brazil and Real Madrid midfielder.
“They are great players, players of the world, but if Argentina has reached the final (the whole team), we have to respect that.”
In addition to wanting to end the drought of his career trophy with Argentina, Messi could make history in a different way on Saturday.
He currently stands at 76 goals for Argentina, a timid record achieved by Pelek with 77 goals for the South American national team.
The issues mentioned in this article