Argentina hopes to surpass tradition of playing in finals to reach Copa America win
SANTIAGO – Argentina are looking to break out of a tradition of playing to the finals of the Copa America and solidify the current team a place in soccer history on Saturday as they face host nation Chile in the finals in Santiago.
Tensions are just as high on the other side as Chile has reached the Copa America final twice before and never won the tournament, hoping to end that hoodoo in front of their home fans.
One character caught somewhere between the two is Chile coach, and Argentine national, Jorge Sampaoli, but he reassured his honorary nation on the eve of the match that he will stand by Chile until the death.
“My obligation is with this group, this country and to try and win the Copa (America), irrespective of the fact that I am Argentine, and I am not a Chilean national. But obviously I am very excited for Chile to come out of this as the champion. That is the non-negotiable (goal) beyond my nationality.
I will fight to the death with this group, a group that has always responded to me, (played) at the highest of levels, and the dream of the whole coaching staff, which is Argentine, is that Chile emerge as champion,” Sampaoli told journalists in Santiago on Friday (June 3).
Chile defender Gary Medel said the team would have to put on a very strong display to overcome favourites Argentina and win the tournament for the first time, after they only just edged Peru 2-1 in the semi-finals.
“Well we hope we will come out as champions, we are going to play to achieve our dream and that of all of Chile. I believe we have demonstrated the capability we have, but it is not going to be easy, because we are facing a great team, Argentina, which has also done very good things throughout the Copa (America), with great players. First we have to play and then we will see,” said Medel.
Medel singled out Lionel Messi as the man who could most threaten the hosts but warned that last year’s World Cup finalists have several other players who can destroy defences, citing Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero.
For Argentina coach, Gerardo Martino, these are just some of the names making up one of the best teams the nation has seen, but they will only be widely recognised as such, he says, if they can achieve a win on Saturday.
“This is one of our best (teams), it is not just one more in our history, it’s one of many, but it is one of the best. Unfortunately in soccer, history is made by wins, so of course they will be held in much higher esteem – obviously my opinions won´t change – if they are able to win,” Martino reflected.
Aguero is Argentina’s top scorer so far with three goals, while Di Maria has two. He said the team would carry on the way they have been playing to go after that win.
“We have a great opportunity to achieve an objective, which is to win the Copa America, but we are focusing on playing as we have been playing, and hopefully, God-willing, we will be able to achieve our objective which we have been after since the start,” said Aguero.
Chile have beaten Argentina once in 38 competitive matches. –Reuters