Neymar (L) Messi
Neymar (L) Messi
AFP

Rio de Janeiro: With their big stars on the field, Argentina and Brasil have a date with destiny on Sunday at the world famous Maracaná stadium to decide who will be the CONMEBOL Copa América champion this year.

This epic duel will see Lionel Messi on one side and Neymar on the other, two of the greatest players on the planet. The game will kickoff at 21:00 local time with fans around tuning in for this dream final.

Old friends and this weekend fierce rivals. The classy, inventive, elegant attacking pair have been at their very best during this year’s Copa America for their respective sides.

In the quarterfinal, la Albiceleste won 3-0 against Ecuador before narrowly getting past Colombia in the semifinal. A motivated, inspiration Lionel Messi has been the star alongside the likes of Lautaro Martínez, Rodrigo de Paul and their new hero, the goalkeeper Emiliano Dibu Martinez.

As for Brazil, Neymar and Lucas Paquetá have liked well in attack ahead of a very organized, strong defensive unit that has taken them to the final.

Paqueta scored the goals in Brazil’s 1-0 wins against Chile and Peru on their knockout stage run to the final.

The managers are also enjoying an impressive run of results with both unbeaten since 2019. The last Brazilian defeat came against Argentina in a November friendly, the last Argentine defeat came against Brazil in the Copa America. On Sunday this incredible unbeaten run will end for one of the two sides.

All these ingredients make for what should be one of the great finals in the history of Copa América.

34: Brazil and Argentina have met

19: Argentina visits to Brazil

06: Brazil unbeaten against Argentina

Colombia finish 3rd

Brasilia: Colombia beat Peru 3-2 in the third-place match at Copa America after striker Luis Díaz scored a pair of goals, one of them assisted by goalkeeper Camilo Vargas.

The final of the tournament between defending champion Brazil and Argentina will be played Saturday night at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Peru opened the scoring at the Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia with Yoshimar Yotún in the 28th minute, with an assist from Christian Cueva that allowed him to beat Colombia's Vargas with a soft lob.

Colombia equalized in the 49th minute after a free kick taken by Juan Guillermo Cuadrado went through the middle of the Peruvian wall and past goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

Colombia took the lead for the first time in the 66th minute after Vargas kicked the ball above opposite defenders to find Diaz face to face with Peru's Gallese. The striker calmly hit it with his right foot to make it 2-1.

Italian-Peruvian striker Gianluca Lapadula leveled once again in the 82nd minute with a header after a corner.

Díaz scored again in added time with a shot from outside the box. The ball deflected on a Peru defender and beat Gallese.

The two goals on Friday illustrated Diaz's change in his career fortunes. Only years ago he was playing for a team of Indigenous peoples in his native Colombia. The Porto striker is being considered as one of the best players of the current edition of Copa America, with four goals, as many as Lionel Messi ahead of Saturday's final against Brazil.

At the age of 18 in 2015, he played for Colombia in the Copa America of Indigenous Peoples. The team lost the final to Chile, but Díaz saw doors open for him after former footballer Carlos Valderrama recommended him to Junior Barranquilla.

Díaz helped the Junior team win the national title in 2018 and reach the Copa Sudamerican final. One year later he signed for Porto, where Colombians Falcao Garcia and James Rodríguez also played.

His goals on Friday were impressive, the first proved how much control he has with the ball until the finish, and the second showed the power in his left leg.

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