Sports / Soccer

Messi on mission in Copa America final

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-06-27 10:20

Messi on mission in Copa America final

Argentina midfielder Lionel Messi (10) stands for the national anthem before the match against the United States in the semifinals of the 2016 Copa America Centenario soccer tournament at NRG Stadium. [Photo/Agencies]

NEW JERSEY - Argentina will attempt to end their 23-year title drought when they face Chile in the Copa America Centenario final here on Sunday.

Last year's Copa America final, hosts Chile defeated their neighbors on penalties to clinch their first ever major trophy.

This time round, Chile will face an Argentina outfit that have already beaten them in this tournament - a 2-1 victory in their opening match - and that have barely needed to move out of second gear with five wins from as many matches.

There has been a reassuring and cohesive look to Argentina's team that was not apparent last year. Moreover, they boast a commodity rarely seen in sport: a once-in-a-lifetime talent who is at the peak of his powers and on a single-minded mission to succeed.

It is doubtful anybody has suffered more from Argentina's dearth of titles than Lionel Messi.

Critics have claimed that despite his five Ballon d'Or awards and myriad of titles with Barcelona, Messi cannot be considered a true great without leading Argentina to a major trophy.

He has come desperately close. In addition to last year's agonizing Copa America final defeat, Messi was part of the Argentina team that lost to Germany in extra time in the 2014 World Cup final. He also played in the 2007 Copa America decider, which Argentina lost to Brazil 3-0.

It is tempting to wonder how much those results have weighed on Messi's mind in this tournament.

A back injury suffered last month meant Messi did not make his first Copa America Centenario start until Argentina's quarterfinal fixture against Venezuela.

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