Hosts Chile take on favourites Argentina in the final of the 2015 Copa America at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago on Saturday (21:00 BST, live on Premier Sports).
Chile come into the final having progressed undefeated through the competition. They topped Group A with victories over Bolivia and Ecuador and a draw with Mexico, and then overcame Uruguay and Peru in the knockout rounds to book their place in the final.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side were given a very tough match by Peru in their semi-final in Santiago on Monday. Eduardo Vargas (pictured) gave them the lead on the verge of half-time after their opponents had earlier been reduced to 10 men, but Peru fought back to equalise on the hour. It took a spectacular second strike from Vargas to see Chile through.
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The hosts were unable to match the high tempo of some of earlier performances, with Sampaoli admitting that his side had suffered from a mix of anxiety and complacency due to the circumstances of the match. Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal were two of those who performed below their normal level, while Chile also had some problems in defence.
There were some positives, though, including a bright and decisive performance from Vargas and another mature display from Jorge Valdivia, who dropped deeper to help his side out when they were having problems building play forward through midfield. Chile are capable of better yet still managed to score two or more goals for the fourth time in five matches.
Sampaoli will be without the suspended Gonzalo Jara for this final but otherwise looks to have a full squad to pick from.
Argentina made it through to the knockout stages by topping Group C with victories over Uruguay and Jamaica and a draw with Paraguay. They defeated Colombia on penalties in their quarter-final before thrashing Paraguay 6-1 in Tuesday’s second semi-final.
Goals from Marcos Rojo and Javier Pastore saw Gerardo Martino’s side establish a two-goal lead inside the opening half-hour in Concepcion, only for Paraguay to pull one back before the break. Argentina’s greater quality showed in the second period, with goals from Angel Di Maria (2), Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain seeing them to a comprehensive victory.
Argentina have regularly dominated both possession and the shot count during this Copa America but Tuesday was the first time they had been able to convert that dominance into a concomitant result. Paraguay did cause them problems at times, particularly when they pressed, but Argentina’s swift and incisive attacks easily tipped the balance in their favour.
Despite again failing to score, Lionel Messi was highly influential throughout. He provided three assists and regularly caused problems for the Paraguay defence with his penetrative dribbling and neat link-play, primarily in league with the impressive Pastore. There were one or two defensive mistakes but it was otherwise an accomplished performance from the favourites.
Martino looks to have no injury concerns ahead of the final.
Chile vs Argentina Copa America Final Betting Tips
These two sides last met back in 2012, with Argentina recording a 2-1 victory in Chile during the qualification process for the 2014 World Cup. Argentina have won 19 and lost none of their previous 24 encounters against Chile in the Copa America. They were 1-0 victors when the sides met at the Estadio Nacional in the decisive match of the 1955 competition
Chile are just one win away from ending their 105-year quest for a major international trophy and will be fired up to do so in front of their fellow countrymen. They have some genuine top-level players, good quality in most areas of the team and are comfortable playing in the energetic attacking style that has become their trademark.
Argentina will represent the most difficult team the hosts have faced to date, even though it is still early into Martino’s reign and they are not yet a fully cohesive outfit. The quality of their players and the manner in which they have improved as the tournament has gone on suggest that the 14-time Copa America winners are worthy, albeit marginal, favourites.
We expect this to be an attractive and highly entertaining final between two good attacking sides. It is very difficult to call but we believe that the hosts are capable of at least matching Argentina over the course of the initial 90 minutes.
- Back Chile +0.5 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 5/6 with BetVictor.
- Three of Chile’s previous five matches have seen three or more goals. Three of Argentina’s five have seen one or fewer, but their semi-final thrashing of Paraguay showed what they are capable of. We expect this to be a match in which both forward-lines are very active. Back over 2.5 goals @ 11/10 with Betfair Sportsbook, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power.