Argentina feeling host expectations
Hosts Argentina will be out to end their long wait for international honours and finish the recent Copa America dominance of arch rivals Brazil when the 43rd edition of the competition starts later this week.
Argentina, along with Uruguay, jointly share the record for most triumphs in the South American championship having won the event 14 times, while they have also won two FIFA World Cup™ crowns, in 1978 and 1986. However, they have not won either title since last clinching the Copa America in 1993, and in the interim period have seen Brazil increase their tally of FIFA World Cup triumphs to five, while also winning four of the last five Copa America titles.
In the last two editions Brazil have defeated Argentina in the final - winning on penalties in Peru in 2004 and 3-0 in Venezuela four years ago - and the Albiceleste will be determined to exact revenge this time around on home soil.
Argentina certainly have the players to end their barren run, boasting the likes of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Pastore and Angel Di Maria, and their superstar playmaker Lionel Messi knows just how high expectations are.
"We are always obliged to win no matter where we are," Messi said to Colombian newspaper El Pais. "Argentina are always among the favourites and have to fight to win everything, and more so playing at home in front of our own fans."
Real Madrid striker Higuain added on Radio La Red: "Argentina have not won anything for a long time, but now we have the team to do it. No doubt, this is our time."
Argentina kick off the 12-team event against Bolivia in La Plata on Friday, with Colombia and invited guests Costa Rica the other teams in Group A. Colombia look as if they will be without goalkeeper David Ospina, at least for the group phase, after he suffered a facial injury in training on Tuesday that is set to sideline him for around 15 days.