Europe may be waiting for England and Italy in the Euro 2020 match on Sunday, but in the Copa America final on Saturday, an earlier contest between the two more successful teams will start in South America, looking forward to a match Bigger game.
Brazil vs. Argentina is a truly international game.
The two teams first met in 1914, and in the following years, they have become the two most legendary teams in world football.
Together they won seven World Cups.
The two teams have been far ahead of their opponents in this year’s Copa America, and Neymar and Lionel Messi have two outstanding players in this tournament.
Argentina remained undefeated in 19 matches into the matchup at the Maracanã, while the host and defending champion Brazil has never lost since beating them in a friendly in November 2019.
Due to the timing, whether it is organization or personnel, this year’s finals are particularly interesting.
The games were originally scheduled to be held in Colombia and Argentina, but due to the unrest in Colombia and the surge of COVID-19 in Argentina, Brazil took over at the last minute.
This is also another game where Argentina-especially Messi-seeks to end a long trophy shortage.
Since winning the Copa America in 1993, they have not won a Grand Slam championship, and Messi has never won a trophy in the national team.
Brazil is a narrow favorite, not just because they are at home and have a slightly better record in the tournament so far. They are also known for beating Argentina in key matches.
The two sides have played against each other four times in the finals, three in the America’s Cup and one in the Confederations Cup-2005.
Argentina defeated Brazil in the forerunner of the 1937 America’s Cup, but has never done so in show games since.
Brazil won the America’s Cup final in Peru in 2004 and again in Venezuela in 2007, when they defeated a dream team with a young Messi in his first international final.
At the same time, a major controversy occurred before the final.
Fabiola Andrade, a famous Brazilian sports journalist, posted a photo of herself wearing an Argentina jersey, saying that she would support Argentina instead of Brazil because Messi is worthy of the championship.
This caused widespread discussion among celebrities, politicians and players, and Neymar used curses to oppose “anyone who cheers.”
But beyond that, the overall mood has always been a disregard for the championship.
Brazil has reported more than 19 million coronavirus cases, of which more than 531,600 have died, with the second highest number of deaths in the United States.
Maracana is open for fans
On Sunday, the final will allow up to 7,800 people to enter the Maracana, which can hold 78,000 people.
This will make it the first game of the America’s Cup, the largest international football championship in South America in 2021, with spectators in the stands.
Those who wish to participate must test negative for coronavirus no more than 48 hours before. Once in, they will be required to observe social distancing.
In Rio alone, more than 29,000 people have died from the coronavirus. The virus death rate in the city is 432 per 100,000 inhabitants, almost twice the national rate of 252/100,000.
“I don’t support holding games, I will never,” 36-year-old Brazilian Paulo Leierer told Al Jazeera.
“This is unacceptable [given the COVID situation]. The America’s Cup did not help solve the COVID problem. What helps alleviate concerns is economic stability.
“I like football, but for a while I didn’t really pay attention to the national team because it was used in politics by a candidate who attacked democracy. I lost interest.”
At that moment, Brazil finally won the Olympic gold medal in front of a group of delirious people in the Maracanã Stadium.Can they win again tonight # America’s Cup final? 🇧🇷#Joined forces pic.twitter.com/K7BrGWkMXf
-Olympic Games (@Olympics) July 10, 2021
Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro strongly supported the organization of the event, and his handling of the pandemic was severely criticized, which is the subject of a parliamentary investigation.
The accumulation of the finals gained more traction and interest.
The ratings of games on public television are very low, not only the number of viewers lost to the euro, but also other regular programs.
Isabel Rondon, 28, told Al Jazeera: “I do not support the competition in Brazil because we find ourselves in a pandemic health condition.”
“Now that such a big incident is happening in Brazil, the situation has become more chaotic. Football will not eliminate the bigger pandemic concern. I support the Brazilian team, but it really doesn’t matter now.”
Despite strong protests, not everyone in Brazil is opposed to hosting the event.
“I support the game. Football has been played nationwide, health and safety protocols are very strict, and Brazil’s infrastructure is ready for the game. The debate about whether to host a game is only political,” the 56-year-old Asia Alex Roberto Arnold told Al Jazeera.
“This is definitely not the level of the Euro. The quality is not what you see in the European Cup, but I support Brazil and I believe they will win.”
Additional reporting by Chris Goldenbaum in Sao Paulo.