Argentina capable of defending their crown

The Copa America gets underway in less than a week’s time with its contenders putting the final touches on their preparations for the tournament in the United States.  

Before the first ball is kicked in Atlanta, Argentina have been dupped the favourites and with good reason, as La Albiceleste have won the last three tournaments they have competed in and the results have not slowed down in the meantime.  

This peaked in Qatar in December 2022 as Argentina became World Cup champions for the third time. Before that they picked up the CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions at Wembley in 2021 with a 3-0 victory over Italy, with this run starting in the same year, beating Brazil 1-0 on their own turf in the final of the last edition of the Copa America.  

This will place a target on Lionel Scaloni’s team’s backs throughout, but with La Scaloneta on a role, can they be stopped?  

Previous Copa America finish  

Argentina were winners of the 2020 edition of the Copa America, which was played in Brazil in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Winning this trophy was huge for the current group of players as it was Lionel Messi’s first with his national team and it gave Scaloni’s side the confidence and belief to go on and achieve what they have since. 

Argentina topped their group which contained Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Bolivia; winning three of their group phase matches and drawing the other against Chile. It was here that La Albiceleste made their intentions for the competition known and they got better as the tournament progressed.  

Lionel Messi and friends would defeat Ecuador 3-0 in the quarter-finals before overcoming Colombia on penalties in the semis. That set up the final everyone wanted as an Angel Di Maria goal would see Argentina crowned champions by beating Brazil at the historic Maracanã Stadium. 

Argentina squad  

On May 20, Scaloni named a 29-man squad for Argentina’s pre-tournament friendlies against Ecuador and Guatemala, which doubles up as a provisional party for the Copa America. That panel will need to be cut to 26 players before June 15 ahead of the tournament kicking off June 20, which is expected to be done after the Guatemala clash. The provisional squad is as follows:  


Franco Armani (River Plate), Geronimo Rulli (Ajax), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa) 


Gonzalo Montiel (Nottingham Forest), Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), Leonardo Balerdi (Marseille), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Lucas Martinez (Fiorentina), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla), Nicolas Tagliafico (Lyon), Valentin Barco (Brighton) 


Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Leandro Paredes (Roma), Alexis Mac Allister (Liverpool), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Enzo Fernandez (Chelsea), Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham) 


Angel Di Maria (Benfica), Valentin Carboni (Monza), Lionel Messi (Inter Miami), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Julian Alvarez (Manchester City) 

Notable absences: The two notable absences from Scaloni’s squad are Thiago Almada and Paulo Dybala, who were in Qatar when the South American nation picked up their third World Cup.  

Expected starting 11 

It is not too hard to predict Argentina’s starting 11 for the tournament as Scaloni is a manager who knows what his best team looks like.  

Argentina often line-up in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation and the following team is what is expected when the defending champions kick the tournament off against Canada on June 20 in Atlanta.  

It is uncertain whether the Argentine boss will go with Man City’s Julian Alvarez up front or Inter’s Lautaro Martinez but following the campaign the Serie A striker has experienced, it would be difficult to leave the 26-year-old out of the starting 11.  

Key player 

Lionel Messi  

It goes without saying who Argentina’s key man is heading into the Copa America this summer, despite the man turning 37 during the tournament.  

Lionel Messi is still one of the best players on the planet and is more than capable of still being able to compete in Europe’s top five leagues, but having achieved everything in the sport he has decided to wind down his career in the beautiful city of Miami with his best friends by his side.   

The Argentina captain has not slowed down in the MLS this season, producing an incredible 14 goals and 11 assists across 15 matches in all competitions for Inter Miami.  

The Barcelona legend was crucial in Argentina winning the World Cup and Copa America over the last three years, with the forward producing seven goals and three assists in Qatar, while guiding his country to victory in Brazil with four goals and five assists.  

Unlike past Argentina teams, Lionel Scaloni’s men are not overly reliant on Messi anymore; but the 36-year-old is still their key player and if he performs at his best in the United States this summer, the greatest player of them all will be getting his hands on a second Copa America crown.

Can Lionel Messi win his second Copa America this summer? 

Predicted finish 

Taking all this into account, Argentina should end their Copa America campaign as champions. However, it will not be easy as there are a lot of strong teams in the competition and Scaloni’s men do not have the motivation of never winning the trophy before. 

The defending champions have a nice route to the final should everything go as planned, with Mexico, Ecuador, and Uruguay/Brazil being the possible route in the final.  

Argentina are still the best team in South America and have the biggest game-changer of them all in Messi. Should La Albiceleste play to their potential, it is hard not to see them winning back-to-back Copa America crowns this summer.  

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