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Lionel Messi looks to settle a debt with Argentina at MetLife Stadium

MetLife Stadium holds painful memories for Messi and Argentina after they lost in the Copa América final to Chile eight years ago.

MetLife Stadium holds painful memories for Messi and Argentina after they lost in the Copa América final to Chile eight years ago.
Dale ZanineUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

It is difficult to think about revenge in the Group Stage. However, the MetLife Stadium, where Argentina will play its second match of the Copa América, brings back a painful memory for Messi and company, precisely against the same opponent they will face on Tuesday.

That stage saw a Messi with tears in his eyes and after losing on penalties in the final of the 2016 Copa América against Chile. Soon after the final whistle, he announced his retirement from the Argentine national team, a decision that he would later reverse before shining a few years later in Brazil by finally achieving the coveted Copa América title in 2021. A year later, he went one step further, winning the World Cup in Qatar 2022.

Messi spoke of “great sadness” after MetLife loss in 2016

“It is difficult. In the locker room I thought it was over for me the national team. It is not for me. That’s what I feel now. It’s a great sadness that it’s happening to me again. It was my turn to miss the penalty, it was very important. That’s it, it’s for the good of everyone. We are not satisfied with reaching the final and not winning it. I tried hard, to be champion with Argentina. It didn’t happen, I couldn’t achieve it,” a sombre Messi said at the time of the loss.

The story nowadays is very different, but Messi has not forgotten what happened on the pitch that will host the Inter Miami star as he aims to settle the debt against the Chileans. Now coached by Ricardo Gareca, Chile are doing the opposite of their opponents and are looking to replicate the achievements of that glorious Chilean team that was crowned Copa América champions in both 2015 and 2016.

Looking back in the past, it’s clear to see how different the paths have been for both sides: while Messi was crowned champion of the continent in 2021 and champions of the world in 2022, Chile have not been back at a World Cup since Brazil 2014, when they were eliminated in the Round of 16 by the hosts on penalties.

The years of failures in Chilean soccer led them to look for an expert in the Copa América; head coach Ricardo Gareca - who made history in 2019 after leading Peru to the final, losing to Brazil - was eventually chosen.

Even so, La Albiceleste have a hard time playing against the Chileans, being held to a 1-1 draw in Antofagasta in the last edition of the tournament. However, in their last meeting, Scaloni’s team won 2-1 in a World Cup qualifying match, which was also played in the same Chilean northern city.