The path of the Argentine National Team in defense of the Copa America title is already established after the draw that took place on Thursday night in Miami, United States, venue of the final that will be played on July 14. The team led by Lionel Scaloni will clash with Peru, Chile and a Concacaf team (Canada or Trinidad and Tobago) in Group A of the tournament to be played in 2024.
Argentina is looking to defend the title won in 2021 at the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro when it beat Brazil 1-0 in the final and ended a 28-year drought without titles. That was the break at La Scaloneta that later won the Finalissima against Italy (European Championship champions), at Wembley; and the World Cup in Qatar, where they beat France in the final and earned their third star.
Argentina will debut in the Copa América 2024 on Thursday, June 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the city of Atlanta and will face the Concacaf representative who will come out of the winner of the playoff between Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. The Canadian team, which qualified for the World Cup for the first time in Qatar 2022, appears to be an opponent to watch out for with players who play in the best European leagues. Their top star is Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich's left winger.
The duel between the National Team and the team that prevails in the Concacaf playoffs will be the opening match of the Copa America to be played in the United States.
The second presentation of the team, which will have Lionel Messi, Ángel Di María, Julián Álvarez and Dibu Martínez, among other figures of the national team, will be on Tuesday, June 25 at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey against Chile. Argentina and Messi will be able to take revenge for the trans-Andean team that won the final of the Copa América Centenario, in 2016, on penalties in that same stadium.
Messi in the 2016 Copa America final against Chile at MetLife in New Jersey. (Reuter)
La Roja is not going through its best moment and although it still has Alexis Sanchez as a representative of the golden generation that won the Copa America in 2015 and 2016, the squad has not yet settled with the necessary generational change. They failed to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar and in the Qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup they are eighth with one win, two draws and three defeats.
Chile is also looking for a coach to succeed Eduardo Berizzo, who resigned after the first five rounds of the Qualifiers. In the defeat against Ecuador on November 21, the coach was Nicolás Córdova, an interim coach.
The last match of the National Team in Group A will be on Saturday, June 29 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami against Peru, another team that was left without a coach after the first six rounds of South American Qualifiers.
Juan Reynoso ceased to be the coach of the Inca national team after 2 draws and 4 defeats at the beginning of the qualifiers. Peru is last in the table and far from the best level it reached under Ricardo Gareca, the coach who led the team to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and returned to the World Cup after 36 years (from Qatar they were eliminated on penalties in the Repechage against Australia).
The generational change did not reach the Peruvian squad either, which has Luis Advíncula (33), goalkeeper Pedro Gallese (33), Yoshimar Yotún (33), Paolo Guerrero (39) and Gianluca Lapadula (33) as its top exponents. The last precedent was with Argentina's 2-0 win in Lima with a brace from Messi, on October 17, on matchday 4.
Argentina already has its roadmap to go in search of a new title. It will be the end of a cycle - Ángel Di María has already announced that he will play his last tournament with the National Team in the United States - and it may be Messi's last as Argentine captain. Or will he make it to the 2026 World Cup?