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A pair of former superstar teammates will be foes Saturday on South America's biggest international stage.

Lionel Messi has guided Argentina to the Copa América final, in which Neymar and Brazil await at the iconic Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.

div">> Neymar, Messi & The Power of Ten Neymar and Lionel Messi square off in the 2021 Copa America Final on Saturday night, with legacy on the line. FOX Sports' Tom Rinaldi explains the beauty and pressure of wearing No. 10. Coverage of the match begins at 7 p.m. ET on FS1.

The duo played together at Barcelona from 2013 to 2017 but will now line up as adversaries with the title on the line.

Of course, while Messi vs. Neymar is the marquee matchup, they'll be taking the field with 10 equally important teammates on either side.

So how did these teams make it to the final? And who else should you keep an eye on?

Here are those answers, plus a whole lot more, in what you need to know ahead of Saturday's final, which will be live on FS1 with coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET:

How'd they get here?

Argentina rolled through Group A, picking up 10 points from four matches to finish top of the group. In their quarterfinal against u">>Ecuador, Messi & Co. got off 21 shots, eight of which were on target, in a 3-0 victory.

Things got tighter in the semis against a spirited Colombia side, which battled Argentina to a 1-1 draw at the end of extra time, forcing penalty kicks. 

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez came up aces for Argentina, stonewalling three of Colombia's penalties en route to a 3-2 win in the shootout. If Messi can bring home the trophy, it would mark the first major international final he has won in his otherwise illustrious career.

div">> Messi, Argentina outlast Colombia in penalty kicks to advance to Copa América final After regulation ended 1-1, Argentina defeated Colombia 3-2 in penalties to advance to the Copa América final.

Brazil also coasted through their group, winning three and drawing one match to claim the Group B crown. Their defense has been superb, with just two goals conceded in six matches. They held firm for a 1-0 victory over feisty Chile in the quarterfinals, then pulled off the same score against Peru in the semis.

For all of his plaudits, Neymar must certainly be ruing his missed opportunities so far at the tournament. He has the ignominious distinction of leading the Copa América with eight big chances missed, per FotMob. On the bright side, he has proven to be a willing distributor, leading the competition with nine big chances created.

div">> Neymar, Brazil advance to Copa América final with 1-0 win over Peru Brazil defeated Peru 1-0 to advance to the Copa América final. Neymar’s beautiful move to set up Lucas Paqueta’s goal was just enough to help Brazil get the victory.

Where are they playing?

Brazil are getting a home game of sorts after CONMEBOL moved the tournament out of Argentina (COVID-19 issues) and Colombia (political unrest). The final will be played at the storied Maracanã, which is no stranger to major events. The iconic venue has been home to Olympic events and World Cup finals and hosted the most recent Copa América final, 2019's clash between Brazil and Peru.

That said, fans are not expected to be permitted inside the stadium. So far, no spectators have been in attendance at any of the tournament's matches, amid concerns regarding the pandemic.

How can I watch?

Fans can tune in to FS1 on Saturday, with coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET. For an even more immersive experience, u">>download the all-new FOX Sports app for additional feeds, social chatter, odds data and more!

For those looking for the broadcast in Spanish, Univision's services have you covered.

To stay up to date on all things Copa América, i">>click here to register for alerts on the FOX Sports app!

What are the experts saying?

Here's what FOX Soccer analyst Alexi Lalas thinks about the tilt: 

"Brazil vs. Argentina. Messi vs. Neymar. The stars have aligned. It’s everything we want. Having said that, Brazil are the favorite. They are playing at home, they have incredible depth, and they have a new structural pragmatism and defensive discipline that Tite has implemented that has made this Brazil team the most solid we’ve seen in years.

"However, we are also seeing a zen Messi here at Copa. Shut him down, and you shut Argentina down. But he is playing with a joy, commitment and urgency that has not always been associated with him and Argentina. Maybe it’s the result of an Argentina team that so far has been devoid of the drama, dysfunction and general lack of discipline that has so often been their undoing.

"But we’ve been here before – Messi faced with yet another chance to check the box of winning his first major (international) trophy and vanquishing the ghosts of both Maradona and those who have used this as a reason for not calling him the GOAT. 

"But Neymar and Brazil don’t care. As a matter of fact, they would love nothing more than to crush the Messi and Argentina dream and bathe in his tears as they raise their record 10th Copa América trophy … and I think they will."

FOX Soccer analyst Stu Holden also shared his thoughts ahead of the match:

"The final is being billed as Neymar versus Messi, and for good reason – without these two players, these teams wouldn't be in the final. We have seen Argentina grow throughout the tournament and prove they are worthy contenders against favorites Brazil.

"In previous finals for Argentina, we've seen Messi's supporting cast fail to deliver, but this time feels a little different, with production from guys like Lautaro Martínez, Angel Di Maria and Papu Gomez. Messi will be heavily tracked by Casemiro, one of the best defensive midfielders on the planet, but that could open up space for Nicolás González or Di Maria in the pockets in front of Brazil's backline. 

"To win the game, Argentina will need to win the midfield battle, a part of the field where Brazil have an advantage. I expect Leandro Paredes to come back in and start and for Argentina to play with a three-man midfield to match up with Brazil numerically. Whoever wins in the middle wins the game.

"Where will the playmakers play? We've seen Messi and Neymar set up in different parts of the field to find space to create. Neymar has been utilized as a left wing, No. 10 and lone striker at times, which is all part of Tite's plan to unbalance opponents. I think we'll see Neymar start wider and find opportunities to take on the fullbacks for Argentina, which could be an advantage for Argentina.

"For Messi, we've seen him show a willingness to take players on one-on-one and open up the game. If Argentina can find spots for him in transition to open up the field and take on a Brazilian defense – which has only conceded three goals this tournament – Argentina could find an advantage.

"It feels like Messi has a date with destiny, but this is still Brazil's game to lose. I think Argentina have enough to get it done and will grind out a 1-0 victory in the Maracanã on Saturday for Messi to lift his first major international trophy at the senior level."

OK, I know Neymar and Messi … what are some other names to watch?

For Argentina, how about Martínez, whom Holden just mentioned? After years of Messi being stuck doing most (or all) of the heavy lifting for La Albiceleste outside of Sergio Agüero, Messi has a young, hungry forward to get involved in the attack. The 23-year-old Martínez has 11 goals in 24 career appearances for Argentina and is averaging 112 minutes per goal scored at this year's Copa América ⁠— good for second-best at the tournament. 

On the other side, Lucas Paquetá has been a revelation for Brazil. Used as super-sub in the quarters against Chile, Paquetá came on after halftime and immediately ⁠— quite literally ⁠— made an impact, scoring in the 46th minute. He parlayed that performance into a start in the semis against Peru, in which he again scored the game's lone goal in a 1-0 win. 

Will Tite opt to start the 23-year-old sparkplug in the final? Or keep Paquetá as an ace in the hole? Decisions, decisions.

Who is favored? Where can I bet?

According to FOX Bet, Argentina are underdogs at +245, meaning a $10 bet gets you back $24.50, plus your initial $10. Brazil are priced at +110, meaning $10 gets you an $11 payout, plus your $10 wager. 

And if ties are more your speed, the "tie" outcome is paying +220, which, on a $10 bet, would return $22 and your initial $10. You should note these outcomes are all based on the score at the end of regular time and don't include extra time or penalty shootouts.

If you prefer a more straightforward, "this team will win" option, FOX Bet is offering a "To Lift The Cup" wager, which is essentially the tournament winner. For that outcome, Argentina are +130 ($10 to win $13, plus your bet back) and Brazil are -182 ($10 to win $5.49, plus your bet back). 

Beyond that, there is a whole buffet of wagering options, from goal totals to exact scores to even the number of corners that will be taken.

Enter the Copa América Final contest on the i">>FOX Super 6 app for free and you can win this week’s $1,000 jackpot! Download now at i">>!

Source :

Copa América final: What to know about Messis Argentina vs. Neymars Brazil

Source:Fox Sports

Copa América final: What to know about Messis Argentina vs. Neymars Brazil