Tag Archives: 2016 Copa America Centenario

Lionel Messi – Ballon d’Or 2016 (Golden Ball 2016)

We are as few weeks away before the voting ends and there should be no doubt that Lionel Andres Messi from FC Barcelona should be the clear favourite to win the Ballon d’Or this year. Here are the numbers (remember that the trophy is judged based on a calendar year, from January 1st to the last day of voting):

Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona, Argentina)
Games – 51
Goals – 49
Assists – 29
Trophies – 3 (La Liga, Copa del Rey, Spanish SuperCup; 1 final – Copa America Centenario)

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF, Portugal)
Games – 45
Goals – 41
Assists – 15
Trophies – 3 (UEFA Champions League, UEFA European Championship, UEFA SuperCup).

The difference is simply staggering. Ronaldo may have won the most prestigious trophies this year, but his performances have not been so great. He did not even feature more than 8 minutes in the final against France before being substituted in the 26th minute. His display vs. Atlético de Madrid in the Champions League final was almost invisible despite dispatching of the winning spot kick in the penalty shootout that occurred and he did not even feature in the UEFA SuperCup final won in the last minutes of the game vs. Sevilla FC.

Lionel Messi won the domestic double with his club, was clutch when the moment was needed. Elevated his game in La Copa America Centenario lost on penalties vs. Chili for the second year in a row (and we see currently see the difference when La Pulga plays for La Albiceleste and when he does not). Since the season has begun, despite missing a few games via injuries, he is simply untouchable with goals and assists in plenty. Messi is probably having his best beginning of a season ever.

France Football and FIFA have disassociated themselves, a few weeks ago, from the Ballon d’Or meaning that the French newspaper will dictate its previous formula once again. Will it be enough to see the Messi vs. Ronaldo saga end and another winner coming forward? We shall see. This year, Messi has been the best so far and deserves his sixth Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or.

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Why Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo (and will always be)

After the aftermath the UEFA European Championship in which Portugal, an unlikely winner, clinched its first international professional trophy, there were several praises for Cristiano Ronaldo, the captain of the national squad. Some deserved, some not. At the end of the day, despite the win, football fans should not forget that Lionel Messi was involved in another continental competition, la Copa America Centenario, a little earlier this summer and led his country to the final against the defending champion and, despite started the competition and on the bench injured, managed to tear the competition apart (5 goals, 4 assists in 5 games, 3 games started). Argentina ultimately lost on penalty kicks against Chile, for the second year in a row.

If Gonzalo Higuain would have been able to do to Chile and Claudio Bravo what Eder has done to France and Hugo Lloris in the final, Argentina may have won its first senior trophy since 1993, Lionel Messi would finally win a professional trophy with La Albiceleste, and critics would not have been so harsh and cruel versus the Argentine superstar, five-time Ballon d’Or winner and on the receiving end of countless individual and collective honours during his career, which started officially in 2004.

While CR7 is older and started his career a few seasons before Leo Messi, there is no doubt in my mind that La Pulga is the better player. While the former is physical phenomenon, a great header of the ball, and goal-scoring machine (especially since joining La Liga Santander) and without a doubt one of the best player of the last 20 years, Messi can do pretty everything on a football pitch. The little man can score, assist, pass the ball, direct the play and play in numerous positions with efficiency. We have seen Messi play as a number 10, 9, 9 and a half, as a winger and even as a number six (versus Germany in 2010 was shocking to see). He is up there with the likes of Pelé, Diego Armando Maradona, Garrincha, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff. His simplification of the game and the fear that he strikes towards his opponents are simply baffling, while Ronaldo has often been absent during big games and Portugal’s victory in the final without their captain plus Real Madrid CF’s penalty kicks win against their local rivals, Atlético de Madrid, in the Champions League final with an absent and inefficient number 7 can testify furthermore of this fact.

The statistics, the silverware won and the impact on the pitch do not lie. Lionel Andres Messi is currently the best footballer on the planet and the question should be: where will he rank in the history of the game when his career will end.

And he should be the current favourite for the Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or 2016 if you look at statistics and honours won so far for the calendar year.

2016 Copa America Centenario Final – Messi vs. Sanchez II

The best two teams of this year’s competition will square off, this Sunday, for a chance to win either a 15th Copa America for Argentina or a second trophy in a row for Chile. Both squads have been breathtaking and have dismantled teams along the way.

Argentina and Chile met, earlier in the tournament, which saw La Albiceleste without Messi winning 2-1 in the group stage. Let’s remember that this will be a rematch of last year’s Copa America final between the two countries won by La Roja, on home soil, via penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.

Argentina’s road to the final:

1st game – Argentina 2 – 1 Chile

2nd game – Argentina 5 – 0 Panama

3rd game – Argentine 3-0 Bolivia

Quarter-finals Argentina 4 – 1 Venezuela

Semifinals United States 0 – 4 Argentina

Chile’s path to the final:

1st game – Chile 1 – 2 Argentina

2nd game – Chile 2 – 1 Bolivia

3rd game – Chile 4 – 2 Panama

Quarter-finals Chile 7-0 Mexico

Semifinals Chile 2-0 Colombia

Prediction

Argentina takes its revenge and wins la Copa America Centenario, its 15th and ties Uruguay.

Messi avec l'Argentine

Lionel Messi and la Copa América

The Argentine captain will feature in his fourth Copa America, this month. So far, the results are the following:

  • 2007 – Loss in the final versus Brazil 3-0, in Venezuela.
  • 2011 – Argentina hosted the tournament, but was eliminated by eventual winners, Uruguay, on penalties after a 1-1 draw and 5-4 loss on penalties.
  • 2015 – Loss in the final against Chile, in Santiago again on penalties (0-0, 4-1 a.e.t.). Messi was voted as the tournament M.V.P. but declined to accept the award at the podium after the loss.
  • 2016 – ??

This year, the tournament is back to celebrate its 100th anniversary and it may be a blessing in disguise for the native of Rosario. In normal times, the next Copa America would have taken in Brazil in 2019 and you can bet your bottom dollar that the Brazilians will be a different team than the one who showed up for “their World Cup“, which ended in a nightmare as we all know.

Furthermore, the Brazilian talisman Neymar Jr., who will play in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this year, will probably add several more trophies to an already jam-packed cabinet and a Copa America and a World Cup are on his list.

Time for La Pulga to win these two, before the Brazilian takes over.

Stay tuned…

2016 Copa America Centenario – Time for Messi and Argentina to raise the trophy

Argentina, this is your moment. After years, even decades of frustration, this competition, which celebrates its 100 years and will be played in the United States for the first time ever, is the moment for Lionel Messi and his group to finally bring some silverware back home. And there are several reasons why we believe they can do so:

  1. The team itself is jam-packed with world-class talent. Messi, Aguero, Di Maria, Higuain, Pastore. Lamela, Rojo, Otamendi, Mascherano, etc. Enough said.
  2. Brazil, their biggest and regular threat, will be without their talisman and captain Neymar Jr., who will feature in the 2016 Summer Olympics Games instead, in Rio de Janeiro this August. Furthermore, football fans can sense that La Seleção is still trying to search itself after the 7-1 loss at home, two years ago, and after its second consecutive elimination at la Copa America, last year, versus  the same opponent and in the same fashion (penalty kicks), Paraguay.
  3. Uruguay will challenge for the title, but without the “Pichichi” (La Liga BBVA<s top scorer) and European Golden Shoe winner, Luis Suarez, and it should hurt them a lot since the native of Salto has been on fire for about one year and half now, after a slow start with FC Barcelona.
  4. Chile is the defending champion and a good side with tons of heart. This year, not playing at home, compounded with the resignation of their former manager, Jorge Sampaoli, last January, will definitely make them more vulnerable and less likely to repeat from their success of last year.
  5. Colombia. A Talented team with talented players, but just not having enough to win it all, it seems. They do know how to play and irritate Brazil in recent years, but their elimination on penalties against Argentina, last year, and the fact that they have not won a competition since la Copa America 2001, without Argentina a with a lackluster Brazil, played on home soil, demonstrates that Colombia will most likely not be crowned champions again this year.

Others selections such as Mexico, with Javier Hernandez, Andres Guardado will not be easy to deal with. Paraguay, who have been second and fourth respectively of the last two Copa Americas, can do some damage. Ecuador has been a force to be reckon with in the CONMEBOL qualifications for the 2018 FIFA World Cup especially with a win in Argentina. The United States of America play at home and could very well be the surprise of this competition. We doubt though that it will be enough to raise the trophy since it lacks the quality to match the likes of Argentina and Brazil in particular.

Prediction ? Argentina wins its first senior’s title since 1993 and ties Uruguay for the most Copa America triumphs with 15.

Stay tuned.

Messi vs. Ronaldo (Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or) – Week 22

This is it. The end of the season has arrived with the Champions League final at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza behind us. Real Madrid CF won their record 11th European Cup title thanks to a penalty shootout versus local and arch-rivals, Club Atlético de Madrid (1-1. 5-3 after extra time). Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning penalty kick, but was invisible for most of the game and was kept off the scoresheet on that one. He adds another Champions League winning medal, his third (one with Manchester United FC and two with Real Madrid CF).

As for Lionel Messi, the Argentine captain and his teammates prepare themselves for la Copa America Centenario due to begin one June 03rd. La Albiceleste played and won a friendly match against Honduras, 1-0, with a superb goal from SSC Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain. Messi was kept off the scoresheet and left the game with what appeared to be a lower-back injury.

Here are the stats from January 01st to May 30th, 2016 between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

L. Messi 34 games 29 goals 18 assists 2 trophies won
C. Ronaldo 27 games 27 goals 8 assists 1 trophy won
Total Messi 7 games Messi 2 goals Messi 10 assists Messi 1 trophy

Copa America Centenario 2016 – Argentina, Brazil, Chile or ?

La Copa America will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year and the United States of America has been chosen as the host country for this special event. The format of the competition has changed since 2007 from an every two year event to a more “normal” four year.

Last year, Chile, the host country, won its first continental title, on penalty kicks, against the Argentina of Lionel Messi, which failed, for a second year in row (after the 2014 FIFA World Cup against Germany) to win a final. This time around and not having to wait another four years, the squad led by Gerardo “Tata” Martino will hope to finally bring a professional trophy home, a first since la Copa America triumph in 1993.

It will not be easy. Several other countries want a piece of this silverware and this time around, 16 teams will be involved in the competition (Argentina • Bolivia • Brazil • Chile • Colombia • Costa Rica • Ecuador • Haiti • Jamaica • Mexico • Panama • Paraguay • Peru • Uruguay • United States • Venezuela).

  • Mexico, Costa Rica and Jamaica are in as CONCACAF Regional Cup Winners.
  • Haiti and Panama have been invited to join the competition as the two playoff winner and highest finishers of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
  • The United States of America is the host country, as mentioned above.

Brazil seeks revenge, redemption, return to glory. The past few years have very difficult for la Seleção. Despite winning the Confederations’ Cup the past three occasions (2005, 2009 and 2013), it has had difficulties winning bigger tournaments since the 2007 Copa America vs. Argentina.

  • Defeats in Olympic tournaments, despite boasting names such as Ronaldinho in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing (China) and Neymar Jr. in London 2012 have been a little surprising and very disappointing.
  • FIFA World Cups have also been difficult experiences since its triumph in 2002 led by “El Fenomeno” Ronaldo. Defeats in quarter-finals vs. France in 2006 and the Netherlands in 2010 were difficult to swallow. This was nothing compared to the historical 7-1 annihilation at the hands of future champions Germany, at home, in 2014.
  • In Copa Americas, elimination in 2011 and 2015 against the same team, Paraguay, and in the same fashion, penalty kicks, have been a disaster as well for the supporters. Neymar Jr., the current captain of the team, wants to play in both competition this summer (Copa America and Olympic Games, held in Rio de Janeiro). FC Barcelona will have to agree to it before he can try to win both titles, which will be highly unlikely.

Uruguay, which holds the record for the most title wins with 15 Copa America trophies, has seen the return of Luis Suarez pay dividends already with his game-tying goal against Brazil in a recent FIFA World Cup Qualification match. Edinson Cavani (Paris-SG) has also been in good form the past few games. Can La Celeste win a record 16th Copa America? We shall see.

Chile, the current title holder, Colombia, an always dangerous opponent and the United States, the tournament host, are teams not to be taken lightly this year.

Who will raise this year’s Copa America Centenario? My prediction goes with La Albiceleste of Lionel Messi, who will grab a rare trophy missing in his already extra large cabinet.

La Albiceleste

Stay tuned…