After starting with 10 teams, we’re now down to the final two as Saturday night’s Copa America final approaches – and it couldn’t be a tastier line-up as two South American heavyweights, Brazil and Argentina, go head-to-head for the continental crown.

Lionel Messi will be looking to lead Argentina to their first major trophy since he made his international debut, though they are up against the tournament hosts at the iconic Maracana Stadium.

We preview the action and the best odds to look out for ahead of the game.

Is this finally Messi’s year?

There’s only one place to start and that’s with Lionel Messi, who is just 90 minutes from finally lifting a major trophy at international level with Argentina. It’s been a long and often painful journey for the Barcelona star, particularly at the Copa America, where he has played in five tournaments without a win, including finishing runners-up three times. If that’s not enough to hurt a serial winner like Messi then the fact that Argentina had previously won the Copa America 14 times before his arrival will do, with the last coming way back in 1993.

Fast forward to 2021, though, and perhaps this time things could be different. Argentina topped their group, only dropping points in a draw against Chile, before seeing off Ecuador and Colombia in the knockout rounds to reach the final. More importantly, however, Messi seems to be enjoying his football, which hasn’t always been the case with the national team. He’s notched an impressive four goals and five assists – more than any other player in both categories – in six games so far, an average goal contribution of 1.5 goals per game.

If Argentina are to finally end their trophy drought they need Messi firing and right now he seems to be, meaning this is could be the best chance of a title for the nation in a generation. Messi and Co, who have been supported by the three-goal Lautaro Martínez, are 13/5 to see off Brazil on Saturday night and lift the trophy, while Messi is 9/2 to continue his fine form and open the scoring at the Maracana. Work out your potential winnings with our easy-to-use online betting calculator.

Hosts Brazil favourites for more glory

Standing in Messi and Argentina’s way, however, are hosts and old foes Brazil, arguably the best team in the tournament. Tite’s team are actually hosting the Copa America for the second time in a row, having ran out as overall winners last time out in 2019. With another tournament on home soil, the nation is expecting a 10th continental crown.

Like Argentina, Tite’s team made light work of the group stage, also advancing with 10 points as pool leaders while netting 10 goals in four games in the process. Tight 1-0 victories against Chile and Peru have since followed to set up a mouth-watering final clash against Argentina.

Brazil’s home status – facing the Seleção at the Maracana Stadium is always a tough task –  along with their reigning champions status ensures they head into Saturday’s game as the favourites for glory at odds of 6/5. Neymar will likely be key if Brazil are to overcome their opponents – while he hasn’t hit the heights Messi has this tournament, he has five goal involvements in five games and is the nation’s joint-top scorer with two goals alongside Lucas Paquetá. The PSG star is 13/8 to score any time on Saturday.

But while it’s Brazil who are the slight favourites, this could be anyone’s game. Messi will be hoping it’s his.

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