Buenos Aires, June 2 (IANS) The Centennial Copa America 2016, which will start on Friday in the US, will be a new opportunity for Argentina’s national soccer team to break their dry spell of over 20 years without a title.
Apart from the gold medals won at the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 (with an Under-23 side), Argentina has not won an official tournament since the Copa America 1993 played in Ecuador, Xinhua news agency reported.
Adding insult to injury, the generation of soccer players led by Barcelona (Spain) star, Lionel Messi, who have not been able to win any major titles in the blue and white shirt, come into the competition after losing in the finals of the World Cup in Brazil 2014 and Copa America 2015 in Chile.
Once again, Argentina, coached by Gerardo Martino, are favourites to win the continental tournament, which will leave South America for the first time in history, due to the amount of players on the team who are also well-known figures in European soccer.
With Messi at the helm, the coach is seeking to give greater identity to the side’s play which as a team showed a high level in the last Copa America in Chile. Despite the high level, Argentina lost to the hosts in penalties in the final.
Apart from a few new names, the Argentine side shows continuity in its formation, including with regard to the team from the last World Cup which was coached by Alejandro Sabella.
The biggest change will be in the defense where local side River Plate’s defender Gabriel Mercado has joined the squad as well as Everton’s (England) Ramiro Funes Mori.