A final against Brazil is exactly what Lionel Messi wanted. He said it before the tournament even started and he repeated it yesterday: “I said it before: I wanted to play in the final of the Copa America against Brazil. I’ve been wanting to play them since we lost 3-0 against them in September last year at Wembley (actually it was at the Emirates Stadium). I still haven’t been able to put that friendly behind me.”
Messi revealed that his teammates are also up for the game and not just to even out that friendly hammering. They also want revenge for their loss in the Copa America final three years ago in Peru. Argentina were superior over the piece in that game but a last minute goal from Adriano took it to penalties that the Brazilians won.
Messi made such feelings plain in a brief interview with Clarin. Here are a few excerpts.
– And how do you see a game like this, and in the final?
“Playing against Brazil is always different. At youth matches I won more than I lost but haven’t done so well at senior level. But every match with them is special.”
– This time, you’re the ones on form…
“Maybe but Brazil always has great players. Finals and derbies are always different. And this match combines both. How we reached this stage isn’t really relevant but I hope that it is us who lifts the cup.”
– What has changed since that match in England so that history doesn’t repeat itself?
“First, there are a lot of different players involved. But basically with Basile we know ourselves much better. We understand what he wants. We are doing well and the idea is not to trip up now.”
Messi didn’t exactly bear his soul but his revelation that he and his teammates do see this match as a way of getting revenge for their recent losses to Brazil is unusual. At this level, players rarely express such sentiments, even if they feel them.
It also shows how much they want to win. The Brazilian players didn’t seem nearly as up for it when I spoke with them yesterday. They were chilled and very laid back, almost as if it was just another game. Which is very Brazilain of course. Tomorrow we’ll see whether those impressions meant anything.