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It’s not long before the first kick-off of the Copa America in La Plata, Argentina when Bolivia will try and make a big surprise against Argentina, so here we are bringing you our predictions and stats ahead of the biggest football tournament on the western side of the hemisphere.

As with most Copa America’s, the biggest question is who will win – Brazil or Argentina? The rest are forgotten or set aside, usually for good reason. Argentina have the home advantage and the most talented squad. Still, Brazil have had the edge in recent tournaments. It’s also time Lionel Messi won something iwth the Albicelste.

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With 14 winnings (the last of them in 1993)  a home advantage and the best player in the world at your disposal, only a fool would bet against Argentina. But as we’ve seen in last year’s World Cup, Messi can’t win it alone, he needs the right players around him and the right system of play. That is where Sergio Batista, the manager, comes in. As a manager, Batista had already won with the Argentinian Olympic team the gold medal in 2008, but as the head coach of the national team had yet to face a real challenge since his appointment last year. With one of the best squads in the world anything less than a final will probably cost Batista his job.

The player who Batista counts on the most is Lionel Messi. After failing to win a major trophy with the national team, since his first appearence 7 years ago, Messi became a subject of scrutiny and slagging in Argentina for not showing the same abilities for the national as he does for Barcelona year after year. He is definitely the best player ever in European club football, but the one thing which separates Messi from becoming the best ever, is winning trophies with the national team, and there is no better opportunity to start on home soil with the Copa America.

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Before the 2007 Copa America the buzz around the tournament was similar to this one – Brazil don’t have the star studded squad as usual – Too many talented wing backs but not enough flair or stars where they really need them. You remember how it ended – Brazil’s counter attacking style under Dunga  destroyed Argentina in the final, a 3-0 win. Brazil also won three years earlier but that was a different time, a different place, before the wonder named Lionel Messi came to be.

Argentina are more than just Messi of course – Aguero, Tevez, Higuain, Di Maria, Pastore. The midfield and attack is probably the finest in the world. The problems begin in the back four and keeper – Argentina rely on their defensive midfield to keep the fort standing, not their defense or keepers. For Brazil? It’s the other way round – Robinho, Pato, Fred, Neymar – They’re good, but it’s more potential than actual stats and accomplishments, at least going by this last season. Their defense and keeper however are a solid bunch – Julio Cesar, despite a rough season with Inter, is still one of the best in the World. Thiago Silva, Lucio, Luisao and David Luiz give Menezes a fantastic set of centre backs. On the wings? Dani Alves, Maicon. I’ve said enough.

 

The toughest job in international football?

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Brazil have talent up front, and it’s about time Pato breaks out, becoming the star he’s expected to be since was 17. Still, Argentina are loaded, and playing at home isn’t too bad either. It’s hard betting against Brazil, but I’ll take my chances and money with Argentina.