Unofficial Football World Champions Argentina will play Copa America hosts Chile in a combined UFWC title match / Copa America final this Saturday 4 July. Argentina took the UFWC title from Colombia in the Copa quarter finals, before thrashing Paraguay in the semis, with Lionel Messi in typically magical form. The win over Paraguay was Argentina’s 61st UFWC title victory, pushing La Albiceleste ever nearer to UFWC all-time top dogs England and Scotland.
The Copa America tournament began with the UFWC title in the hands of Brazil, who beat Peru in their opening game, but then lost 1-0 to Colombia. A draw with Peru was just enough to see Colombia squeeze into the quarter finals, where they played out an epic encounter with Argentina, eventually losing the UFWC title on penalties, with Argentina’s Carlos Tevez scoring the decisive kick.
Argentina had flattered to deceive as they progressed through the Copa tournament, but that all changed in the semi final against Paraguay. If it’s at all possible to have a typically extraordinary game, then Messi had it, creating two goals within the first 30 minutes, for Marcos Rojo and Javier Pastore, before Paraguay hit back through Argentina-born Lucas Barrios just before half time.
The second half belonged entirely to Messi and Argentina. Angel Di Maria scored two goals within eight minutes of the restart, and then Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain added to Argentina’s tally, making the final score 6-1. Messi didn’t score – he hasn’t scored from open play for his country in the last ten games – but he was involved in everything good as Argentina booked their place in the Copa final. Messi is regularly reminded that he has never won a World Cup, nor any senior international trophy (other than the UFWC), so winning the Copa America would be an important achievement in a remarkable career.
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Hosts Chile, meanwhile, have blazed their way to the final in a flurry of goals from the likes of Eduardo Vargas and Arturo Vidal, with creative support from Jorge Valdivia and Alexis Sanchez. La Roja put two past Ecuador, three past Mexico, then five past Bolivia in the group stage. A 1-0 win over Uruguay in the quarters was followed by a 2-1 win over Peru, with Vargas scoring both semi final goals. Chile have scored 13 goals so far during the tournament, compared to Argentina’s ten – and it should be noted that Argentina had only scored four prior to their thrashing of Paraguay. Vargas, of Napoli but last season loaned to Queen’s Park Rangers, is currently the tournament’s top scorer with four in five games.
Everything seems set up for a great final, with great players and the promise of goals. UFWC champs Argentina have only really hit their stride as a team once during the Copa tournament, but that was in their most recent match. And they have so many world class individuals that they’re a formidable opponent even when the team as a whole fails to click. Chile are certainly dangerous challengers, and they have all the advantages that come with being hosts – including, evidence from previous matches would suggest, the benefit of some very lenient refereeing.
The winner will of course be Copa America AND UFWC champions, uniting both titles in the final for the first time since 1993, when two goals from Gabriel Batistuta saw Argentina defeat Mexico. The UFWC title has been contested at eight Copa America tournaments – in 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1979, 1993 and now 2015. Argentina and Chile have met in three previous UFWC title matches at Copa Americas, and Argentina have won all of them. A fourth, non-Copa, UFWC title match meeting took place in May 1998, and finished 1-0 to Argentina.
Overall, Chile have played 35 UFWC title matches, and have won 11 of them – giving them a win ratio of 0.3. Argentina have won 61 out of 100 title matches – so their win ratio of 0.6 is twice as good as Chile’s. Argentina are third in the all-time UFWC rankings, with only international football pioneers England and Scotland ahead of them. Chile are 19th, but a win on Saturday would push them up to 16th. Chile’s last UFWC title win was in March 1982, when they beat Peru 2-1 – just as they did in this year’s Copa semi finals.
Argentina vs Chile kicks off at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos in Santiago this Saturday 4 July at 17:00 local time (21:00 UK time). You can keep up to date with all things UFWC by following us on Twitter or Facebook.