Many of us love Messi. And many of us would love to see him win a major tournament with Argentina especially after the disappointments of the past.
Not only would it be a fantastic spectacle but it would alleviate a criticism of Messi argued by some people. The criticism that he cannot be considered a true great until a major international trophy is won.
Previously, he has been stopped short at two Copa America Finals (2007, 2015) and one World Cup Final (2014). (His Olympic Gold in 2008 is not considered a major tournament win.)
Great news and hope then for fans of the Argentinian who will be in international action this summer.
A tournament usually played once every four years, the Copa America takes place again (one year after the last) due to it’s 100th year anniversary. While usually hosted in South America, the USA will provide venues for the special anniversary edition.
Teams from the Confederation of North, Central and Caribbean Associations (CONCACAF) will also play, creating sixteen teams (four more than usual).
Argentina, as always, have a decent chance of success one year after their 2015 final defeat by Chile. What a fitting win it would be for Messi & Co., not to mention a great set-up for the Confederations Cup 2017 and World Cup 2018, both in Russia.
The Centenary kicks off on June 3rd and plays until the final on June 26th.
It will hosted all over the USA with four stadiums on the West Coast, four on the East Coast, two down south (Orlando and Houston) and the most central in Chicago.
Capacities range from 60,219 to an incredible 92,542 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California (See Featured Pic). Final day will be played at the 82,566 MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
Also taking part is the US National Team along with a number of other CONCACAF teams namely Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Haiti and Panama.
The South American representatives will include the footballing giants of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia and Uruguay.
Although, as shown in the past anyone from CONMEBOL including Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela could shock.
The arguable big five: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the US and Uruguay have been kept mostly apart in the opening four groups which will make for a very interesting knockout stage. (See Bottom for groups)
Argentina are always among the favourites at major competitions, this year even more so with Messi, Aguero, Di Maria in such fine form at club level.
Similarly, Higuain is in sparkling form for Napoli and Tevez too back in his home country can complete one of the greatest forward lines in world football if all can stay fit and in-form.
Easier said that done with the dreaded burn-out that can occur with these teams having such a pile-up of games towards the end of the season. And a balance will need to be found.
It goes without saying that they have other front lines to contend with led by the likes of Barcelona teammates Neymar and Suarez (the latter whose international ban has finished).
Other notably rivals are Edinson Cavani as well as last years tournament winner and talisman Alexis Sanchez. Of course, that’s just mentioning the forward lines!
Stay tuned for a follow up on every team’s chances at the Centenary Copa!
BBC, ITV and Sky have signed preliminary agreements for televising games.