Argentina go into their second Copa America Centenario Group D game on Friday against Panama in Chicago. La Albiceleste are just a win away from making it to the knockouts of the event and the good news remains that star forward Lionel Messi is available to appear in the game.
Despite the absence of the 'little magician' who plays for Barcelona, Argentina bagged a 2-1 win in their first game of Copa America 2016 -- against Chile. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria registered themselves on the scoresheet in the match. It only remains to be seen how much stronger the side becomes now with Messi making his return after injury.
"We are always a better team when Messi is in the team," Argentina coach Tata Martino said in the pre-match press conference, as quoted by ESPN FC. "Our chances of winning the Copa are always going to be higher when he is playing.''
With Uruguay out of contention, Argentina becomes one of the favourites to lift the Copa America Centenario title, besides Brazil. However, having said that, the prospect of seeing an underdog team causing upsets going ahead in the tournament cannot also be ruled out.
Panama, for one, is an example. Ranked 56th in the world at the moment, Panama comes into the game at the back of a 2-1 win against Bolivia. Blas Perez scored both the goals in the game. Against Argentina, they are no doubt the underdogs, but that doesn't mean they will bow down without a fight.
Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez, however, is wary of Messi. "You can work a lot to build a team, but against Messi there's nothing you can do," said the Colombian coach. "If Messi's inspired he can kill anyone. One works on tactics and has a team but individuals are above that in football. Messi is a man who is above everyone.''
Where to watch live
Copa America 2016: Argentina vs Panama is scheduled for a 9:30 p.m. ET (7 a.m. IST, 2:30 a.m. BST) start on June 10, 2016.
India: Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD.
United Kingdom: Premier Sports.
United States of America: Fox Network, Fubo TV.
Argentina: DirecTV Sports Argentina, Canal 7 TV Publica.
Panama: RPC Canal 4.
India: Sony Liv.
US: Fox Sports Go.
Argentina: DirecTV Play Deportes.