Lionel Messi-Carlos Tevez Pair Up as Argentina Look to Light Up Copa America

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Santiago:┬áThe Copa America is the world’s oldest continental football competition, its first edition in 1916 predating the European Cup (now the Champions League) by 39 years.

Uruguay, with 16 titles, are the most successful team, having dominated the competition in its early years. Argentina are next with 14 titles followed by Brazil with eight, reports Xinhua.

The 2015 tournament – which begins here on Thursday – includes each of the 10 teams from the South American football confederation (CONMEBOL), plus Mexico and Jamaica. The winner of the competition will qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. Here’s a look at the June 11-July 4 tournament in Chile. (Neymar-Less Brazil see off Mexico)

The holders

Uruguay are the reigning Copa America champions, having lifted the trophy after a 3-0 victory over Paraguay in the 2011 final in Buenos Aires. But much has changed since then. Luis Suarez, Uruguay’s leading scorer in that tournament with four goals, will be missing this time round as he continues to serve a nine-match suspension for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during last year’s World Cup. (Suarez Hails Incredible Debut Season)

Also absent will be the team’s most capped player and 2010 World Cup Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan, who has retired. In their absence, Uruguay’s attack will be carried by Edison Cavani and Diego Rolan. Both were on the scoresheet in Uruguay’s 5-1 victory over Guatemala in a friendly on Saturday.

The Messi-Tevez intrigue

While question marks may hang over Uruguay’s attack, there are no such concerns for Argentina. Lionel Messi, fresh from leading Barcelona to their fourth Champions League victory in the past decade, scored 58 goals in 57 matches last season, despite often being deployed in a deeper-lying playmaker role. In front of him will be Sergio Aguero, the Emglish Premier League’s leading scorer last season with 26 goals from 33 matches, Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez. (Messi’s Dream of Champions League History)

It is Tevez’s inclusion that has arguably created the most intriguing sub-plot to this year’s tournament. Can Tevez and Messi finally click while playing for Argentina? Evidence from previous major tournaments would suggest a negative answer.

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