FC Daily: Argentina face Chile at Copa America amid Lionel Messi doubt

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It’s Monday, June 6, and here’s a look at the big stories and what you need to know around the footballing world from FC Daily.

Matches of the day

The big one is Argentina versus Chile in Santa Clara, California (10 p.m. ET/FS1) and the big question is will Lionel Messi play or won’t he? Right now, it looks like the Argentina talisman will be in the matchday squad, but is not expected to start in this rematch of the 2015 Copa America final. Manager Gerardo Martino told reporters midfielder Nicolas Gaitan would likely be his replacement.

Before the big match of the day, Panama and Bolivia will set the table in the other Group D match (8 p.m. ET/FS1). The United States easily beat Bolivia in a pre-Copa friendly, and their manager Julio Cesar Baldivieso has admitted: “Chile, Argentina and Panama are better, and the task will be difficult.”

Three key points

1. Obviously Messi’s fitness is the biggest news for day four of the Copa America Centenario and with all signs pointing to him not starting the match — or perhaps even playing — it will be in interesting to see how the Martino’s men respond. The Argentine side is still loaded with talent. But they are up against a Chilean team that is also highly motivated to defend their 2015 title, even if they may already have one eye on the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

2. Speaking of Chile, Copa America organizers jumped the gun playing La Roja’s national anthem a day before they even took the field. Ahead of Sunday’s Mexico-Uruguay match (more on that below), the Chilean national anthem was played when Uruguay’s was supposed to have been. The move brought raised eyebrows from the Uruguayan players — including the injured Luis Suarez — and boos from La Celeste supporters in the crowd. Copa America organizers issued an apology at half-time. Ooops.

3. Once the match got underway, there were probably not too many disappointed fans as Mexico and Uruguay battled in a back-and-forth affair that saw El Tri come out on top 3-1. Veteran captain Rafa Marquez scored the winner for Juan Carlos Osorio’s side to lead his team in the Mexico player ratings.

Lionel Messi sustained his injury in a pre-Copa friendly with Honduras.

Player(s) of the day

If indeed Messi doesn’t play, then Argentina will need one of their other stars to step up. Angel Di Maria had an up-and-down season for Paris Saint-Germain in their Ligue 1 runaway title win, but there’s something that happens when he pulls on the blue and white of Argentina that turns him into a game-changer.

On Chile’s side of the ball, surely those honours fall to Arturo Vidal, who is truly the straw that stirs the drink for Juan Antonio Pizzi’s team. Vidal was part of Bayern Munich’s run to the Bundesliga title and German Cup win, and his passion, effort and true class will all be needed to help La Roja if they are to knock off Group D top seed Argentina.

Stat of the day

Even without their most important player in the starting XI, Argentina are still 49.8 percent favourites to beat Chile on Monday. That’s according to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index, which suggests that Chile has a 23.3 percent chance of winning, leaving the likelihood of a draw 26.9 percent.

Tweet of the day

Source w/knowledge of situation tells me Messi has only done two jogs since arriving in US. Second jog was lighter than the first. #Copa100

– Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) June 6, 2016

Watch this

The FC panel discuss Mexico’s convincing 3-1 win over Uruguay, which puts them in prime position to advance in the Copa.

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