Today, while the United States celebrates Independence Day, the Copa América concludes at 4:00 EST as host Chile takes on powerhouse and World Cup finalist Argentina in Santiago.
How Both Teams Got Here
There were already calls for the head of former Barcelona and Newell's coach Geraldo "Tata" Martino when Argentina stumbled out of the group stage in unconvincing fashion, but the perennial powerhouse enter the final as favourites after a massacre of a solid Paraguay side (coached by Fiorentina alumni Ramón Diaz), as both Sergio Agüero and Angel Di María are in fine finishing form, while Lionel Messi serves as the team's primary playmaker.
Tata Martino will likely stick with his trusted 4-3-3 lineup, and a victory here will be necessary for him to continue as Argentina manager leading up to the next World Cup.
Hosts Chile have played arguably the most attractive football of the tournament, as Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli, a disciple of Marcelo Bielsa (as is Martino), is commited to an all out aggressive, attacking style of play he refuses to abandon even against an attack such as Argentina's. As a result Chile's defense, filled with mostly converted midfielders, has been vulnerable all tournament.
Chile's 3-4-3 will be lead up front by Alexis Sánchez and Napoli man Eduardo Vargas. The former remains one of the most exciting players in the world despite his propensity to miss sitters, while Vargas continues to defy club form to look like the talent originally coached by Sampaoli at Universidad de Chile. Behind them will be drunk driving aficionado and Juventino Arturo Vidal, a player who unfortunately remains good at everything on the field and continues to be the heartbeat of this Chilean side.
Is there a Fiorentina connection?
Fiorentina's Matí Fernández and soon to be dearly departed David Pizarro are both on the Chile squad, although unfortunately both are bench players. Pizarro has mostly been used as a late game sub to slow down the tempo, while Matí has been featured even less after being sent off in Chile's first game.
In general this tournament has had very little Fiorentina, besides Juan Vargas' excellent performance in a defensive role for Peru. Gonzalo Rodríguez was once again snubbed a place in the Argentina squad.
So who will win this?
Realistically, it will be a shock if Chile win this, even with the crowd on their side. Their defense has been weak and they haven't been particularly clinical finishers, a necessary against a team with so many game winners like Argentina.
Anything can happen in the Copa however, so I highly reccomend checking it out. The fireworks and barbeque can wait.