Argentina have run riot in this tournament so can Messi and co. finish the job on Monday morning?
After heartbreak in major finals in the past two summers could it be third times lucky for La Albiceleste? It’s been 23 years since they claimed their last major title but their form over the past few weeks suggests the wait is almost over.
It’s now nine consecutive wins for Argentina and they’ve scored 16 times in their last four matches while winning each by at least three clear goals. However, they’ve played in three major finals over the last 10 years and despite being the favourites each time, with Lionel Messi starting each match, they’ve failed to score in any and finished runners-up on every occasion.
They’ve been undeniably impressive in these Finals so far but they’ve not been truly tested since their opening game with Chile. This is their first top-10 opponent since then and only once in their last 15 matches against top-10 sides have they scored more than twice. Moreover, eight of their last 10 such competitive matches have had fewer than three goals and six have been goalless at half-time.
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While, they’ve so far had no problems backing up easy wins there is often a comedown in the following match and that has definitely been the case after big wins in semi-finals. Since 1990 there have been 15 major finals where one side had won their semi by at least three clear goals and those teams have scored just 13 goals between them in the finals as they’ve gone W5-D6-L4 with 8/15 having fewer than three goals and 11 being level at half-time.
In contrast to Argentina, Chile have been tested, as they faced top-10 opposition in both the quarter-finals and semis, and their results have been even more impressive than Argentina’s. Despite being underdogs against Mexico they thrashed El Tri 7-0 and then backed that up with a 2-0 win over Colombia even with the suspension to key man Arturo Vidal. With the king returning can Chile repeat the job they did on Argentina a year ago? That is the only time they’ve avoided defeat in their five meetings since 2011 but their last three losses have all been by 2-1 scores so it’s not hard to see them pulling off a shock given this is the highest we’ve ever had them ranked going into a game with Argentina. Furthermore, Chile have lost just three of their last 10 competitive games against top-10 nations (W3-D4-L3), including two of five against top-five sides (W1-D2-L2).
Since 2006, there have been 14 major finals at World Cups, Euros, Copas and African Cup of Nations, and six have finished goalless, including four of the last six. Furthermore, 10 of 14 have had fewer than two goals, just one has seen both teams score, and nine have been level at half-time with eight being goalless.
Overall, Argentina look too short at odds-on given their previous failures at this stage. The draw is a much better price in a game that promises to be fiercely contested. While this tournament, unlike the Euros, has not been short of goals that has been down to several one-sided affairs and we expect that to change here. Both Under 2.5 and Under 1.5 Goals are decent prices, while we certainly wouldn’t rule out a repeat of the 0-0 that we saw in the 2015 final.
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