1. Brazil and Argentina have previously met 105 times, with 41 wins for Brazil and 38 wins for Argentina. The last time Brazil and Argentina played in the Copa America was during the 2007 final, ending in 3-0 win for Brazil. Dani Alves and Messi are the only two players remaining from that match 12 years later.
  2. Tite said the pressure of the rivalry had him waking up in the middle of the night, jotting ideas on a notepad. He added that while you can never fully take Messi out of a match, you can neutralize his impact knowing he will create something at some point. That attention to defensive detail has had tangible effect with Brazil yet to concede a goal this tournament.
  3. Messi admitted that he hasn’t been at his best throughout the Copa America, citing terrible pitch conditions for his lack of his usual standard. Lionel Scaloni chose to deflect attention from his struggles, saying that he’s asking Messi to do something different than carry the team with goals. 
  4. Everton Soares gets his chance to start ahead of a rumored move to the Premier League. Meanwhile, Argentina’s lineup is defined by imbalance exemplified by starting three of their best attackers in Sergio Aguero, Lautaro Martinez, and Messi with little consideration for fit. Their midfield three of Marcos Acuna, Leandro Paredes, and Rodrigo de Paul are also more comfortable in attack than defending. Centerback Juan Foyth is starting at right back due to their lack of options. This is Scaloni throwing everything at the wall, although one wonders how wise that experimentation is in a match against Brazil. On the other hand, are there any other options?
  5. Argentina kick off. They turn the ball over 24 seconds into the match off a wayward back pass.
  6. Brazil are attacking early down the right through Alves. Responding to the pressure, Nico Tagliafico gets the game’s first yellow card 8 minutes in for a tackle on Gabriel Jesus.
  7. Messi has barely touched the ball in the opening 10 minutes.
  8. Argentina are finally able to slow down the match 12 minutes in, with Messi finally seeing the ball. That first bit of possession ends with a dangerous long shot from Leandro Paredes.
  9. There was a sequence in possession where Foyth turned the ball over right to Jesus, but no shot came off the turnover. We’ve discussed this during their match against Colombia, but Argentina do not have the on-ball quality in the back to play a possession style. That lack of quality is also having an effect on Messi and Aguero’s inability to get into the game.
  10. Coutinho nutmegs Paredes and passes to Alves, who then cuts back and passes wide to Firmino, who crosses to Jesus for a simple tap-in to open the scoring. That entire sequence was way too easy for Brazil. No Argentine player got close to Alves to challenge his dribble. As the commentator noted earlier, there is no physical balance in Argentina’s midfield, and they paid for their lack of a Casemiro figure.
  11. Messi is dropping further and further down the field following Brazil’s goal.
  12. Aguero hits the crossbar off a header from a Messi free kick. Argentina look most likely to equalize through a set-piece. Messi then shows a trademark drive through Brazil’s midfield on a counter and lays it off to Aguero, whose shot gets blocked.
  13. This is much, much better from Argentina, who have dictated possession as Brazil fall back with the lead.
  14. Acuna and Alves each get a  yellow card following a confrontation. Alves’ ability to deliver passes out of the right half-space is Brazil’s most dangerous attack. Not one of Argentina’s three midfielders wants to cover that area.
  15. With that said, that was probably the best first half for both Argentina and Brazil in this tournament - and one of the best halves of this entire tournament. It had the mix of quality and tension we’d expect from these two sides. Argentina probably should have scored during a 15-minute run to close out the half.
  16. Willian comes on for Everton in the second-half.
  17. Argentina start by dictating possession again. Brazil look happy to soak up pressure and counter. Aguero is also receiving the ball deeper and helping out in buildup play.
  18. But Foyth’s lack of width and attacking instinct is hurting Argentina as when they play down the right, either Aguero, Messi, or Martinez are put into situations where they have to beat their defender one on one with no help.
  19. Jesus is having an excellent match. We’ll need to consider this after the tournament.
  20. Messi hits a shot off the post, then he retrieves the ball and sends a cross with no one making a run. There was no rhyme or reason to that chance, with Argentina’s attack relying on mistakes and scraps.
  21. Angel Di Maria comes on. Di Maria probably had the poorest performance out of any big-name Argentine player this tournament. He’s really suffered from a lack of counter-attacking or possessional structure.
  22. Giovani Lo Celso also comes on. Again, we go back to the question of balance with a midfield of Paredes, Di Maria, and Lo Celso. And Scaloni has yet to touch any of his front attacking three, but who else is there to sub on?
  23. Jesus just absolutely destroyed four defenders on a counter attacking goal. With Argentina pushing up, Jesus showed off his pace, strength, and footwork in dribbling down the field, then squared a ball for Firmino who was standing in front of an open net. Firmino mis-hit his shot, but he was so wide open it didn’t matter.
  24. This is one of the most impressive performances in Jesus’ career.
  25. Scaloni and Martinez get a yellow card after Firmino nutmegs Martinez.
  26. Paulo Dybala comes on in the 85th minute. This really is just throwing every attacker on the field and hoping something happens.
  27. The “ole’s” are reigning down now.
  28. The ref blows his whistle out of mercy. Alves was my man of the match going into that final run from Jesus. Brazil’s possession flowed through Alves, who is 36-years-old and currently without a team. He had more energy than anyone on the field. This was also a signature match for Jesus. He isn’t asked to dribble through multiple defenders with Manchester City, as their midfield takes care of the buildup, so we haven’t seen this type of performance from Jesus. Brazil’s efficiency in defending and counter attacking makes you forget they don’t even have Neymar.
  29. In the past, there’s been disappointment when Messi has been eliminated from the Copa America. But you can’t have that emotion after watching this match with the gulf between the two sides. There’s just pieces missing that have nothing to do with Messi, starting from attacking fullbacks, to a center back who can dictate possession, to a physical presence in midfield. Argentina will co-host the Copa America next season, so they do get quick turnaround. But looking at the roster, one wonders what exactly will be different one year from now.