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Argentina’s class of 2005 out to end 22 years of hurt

A decade has passed since an Argentina team containing Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi and Pablo Zabaleta clinched the World U20 Championship title in the Netherlands.

Although the Albiceleste did win the gold medal match at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it’s been a long wait for triumph in a major international tournament when considering the quality in their ranks.

There have been near-misses, such as the painful extra-time defeat to Germany in last summer’s World Cup final and the loss to Brazil in the 2007 Copa America final, but this talented generation have a 90 minute shot at atonement coming up fast.

On Saturday night, Argentina have the chance to bring 22 years of hurt to an end when they face hosts’ Chile in the 2015 Copa America final in Santiago.

It’s a fitting final between the two sides that have produced the best football at the tournament and Argentina boss Gerardo Martino is expecting an attractive, open encounter.

"There are footballing ideas that don't change," said Martino. "Whoever they are against, Chile are going to play the same way.

“They are going to attack us as they do against any opponent, and they are going to do it with a lot of men.”

It’s also a match full of intriguing subplots and narratives.

Chile have home advantage but will feel the weight of history on their shoulders as they have never won the Copa America in the 99 years the competition has been contested.

Meanwhile, Argentina go into the game knowing that they will tie with Uruguay as the country to have won the most South American Championships if they can defeat one of their oldest rivals.

It remains to be seen whether a full complement of three City players will be named in Gerardo Martino’s line-up for the game as Ezequiel Garay has recovered from the stomach bug which ruled him out of the 6-1 semi-final win over Paraguay.

The Zenit defender’s return to training throws Martin Demichelis’s involvement into doubt, while Aguero and Zabaleta are expected to retain their places in the side after good performances last time out.

Aguero is well in contention for the Golden Boot award at the tournament with three goals from his four appearances in Chile – just one behind Chile’s Eduardo Vargas.

Kick-off at Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos is at 21:00 (BST) and will be broadcast live on Premier Sports in the UK.

We’ll bring you a full report here on mcfc.co.uk shortly after full-time.

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