Tonight at Wembley Stadium, one of the rarest tournaments in world football over the last 50 years or so will be resurrected as Italy face Argentina underneath the famous arch.
Known as “The Cup of Champions” tonight’s game resurrects a competition that was last played back in 1993 and which has had a very spotty history prior to that.
However, in the spirit of greater collaboration between CONMEBOL, who organise the international calendar in South America and UEFA, who do likewise in Europe, the fixture has been revived.
So, what is the Cup of Champions? Who will take part? How do you qualify for it and what is the history of this tournament?
We’ll answer all of that and more below, as well as giving you some tips for the big game tonight, courtesy of bet365 Sport.
What Is The Cup Of Champions?
The Cup of Champions, or the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup Of Champions to give the match its full name, is a game that will be contested every four years between the winners of the most recent Copa America tournament and also the corresponding European Championships football tournament.
Both those tournaments took place last year after being delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, with Argentina winning the Copa America, defeating Brazil on their home soil, while Italy were the Euro 2020 champions defeating England on penalties at Wembley.
The tournament has been played under different names throughout the history of both tournaments, although this is the first time in 30 years that the two different continental cup champions will face off in a one-off decider.
The game at Wembley will be contested over 90 minutes, with the game going straight to penalties if the match ends in a tie.
Kick-off is tonight at 7.45pm.
What Is The History Of The Cup Of Champions?
The original Cup of Champions first was contested back in 1985, however, it was only played twice before it was shelved.
The first match took place in the Parc des Princes in Paris, with France overcoming Uruguay 2-0 thanks to goals from Domenique Rocheteau and Jose Toure.
Back then the trophy was called the Artemio Franchi Cup and it would be eight years before the tournament would be contested again as the Copa America winners in 1989, Brazil, could not find a date to play the Euro 88 winners, the Netherlands.
However, in 1993 after Argentina had won the Copa America and Denmark had landed a surprise European Championship win in 1992, the match was played for the second time in Argentina and after a 1-1 draw, the hosts landed the victory on penalties.
That was the last time the game was played until tonight’s game at Wembley.
FIFA did try to get FIFA Confederations Cup off the ground, but after 17 years, the tournament was abolished in 2019.
Why Was The Tournament Relaunched?
Back in 2020, UEFA and CONMEBOL signed a memorandum of understanding to work more closely and as part of that agreement, the potential of resurrecting what was the Artemio Franchi Cup was discussed.
Back in September 2021, the two confederations confirmed that they had agreed to resurrect the tournament and that it would start in 2022.
Then back in March, the new name of the tournament was announced, and the final itself will be known as the ‘Finalissima’.
The new agreement between the two organisations makes provision for the tournament to be played at least one more time after the 2024 European Championships and the 2024 Copa America.
The change that will see the Copa America contested once every four years, in the same summer as the European Championship should make arranging the game between the two tournament victors easier in the future.
Who Qualifies For The Game?
The two qualifiers are the winners of the most recent European Championship and Copa America tournaments. This year, that is Italy and Argentina.
The next game will be between the winners of the 2024 European Championships and 2024 Copa America and will likely take place in the summer of 2025.
Where Will The Finalissima Be Held?
As yet there has been no announcement as to where the Finalissima will be held each time it is contested. It could be held at one venue, but is more likely to be played at different venues each time, perhaps even switching between South America and Europe for each successive game.
Italy v Argentina Team News & Preview
Having missed out on qualifying for the World Cup Finals for the second time in a row, Italy will now have their attention focused on this game to try and add to the silverware they won last summer at Wembley.
Roberto Mancini has said he expects this to be an entertaining game between the two teams and he has named a squad that contains a lot of uncapped players, as well as a number of veterans.
Several Italian stars, such as Zainolo, Pinamonti, Kean and Berardi will miss the game through injury, while Ciro Immobile was not selected by Mancini for the game.
Giorgio Chiellini will play his final game for Italy in the match before retiring from international football ahead of a probable move to Major League Soccer.
Mancini is expected to stick with his preferred 4-3-3 formation for the game.
- Italy Team Prediction – (4-3-3) – Donarumma, Di Lorenzo, Emerson, Chiellini, Bonucci, Jorginho, Barella, Verratti, Insigne, Scamacca, Bernardeschi.
Argentina come into this game on the back of a fantastic Copa America victory in Brazil last summer and unbeaten in their last 31 games, a run which will likely make them very confident ahead of tonight’s game.
Lionel Scaloni also likes his team to line up in a 4-3-3 formation and his team will feature a number of players still playing in Argentina and South America, as well as a good number of their top stars from Europe too.
Of course, most of the focus will be on Lionel Messi, who is expected to start on the right side of a three-pronged attack along with Inter’s Lautaro Martinez and Paris St Germain’s Angel Di Maria.
Rodrigo De Paul and Giovanni Lo Celso will likely start in midfield.
- Argentina Team Prediction – (4-3-3) – Martinez, Molina, Acuna, Otamendi, Romero, Rodriguez, Lo Celso, De Paul, Di Maria, Messi, Martinez.
Bet365 have Argentina as the 11/8 favourites to win the game ahead of Italy at 9/4 and it is 21/10 on the draw.
The teams have met 15 times previously with Italy winning six, Argentina five and there have been four draws.
However, the last four games have all been victories for Argentina, all of which have come on Italian soil, including their famous 1990 World Cup semi-finals win on penalties in Naples.
Italy’s last win over Argentina came back in 1987, so the Italians are going to have to overturn recent defeats in order to land the win here.
However, my gut feeling here is that we are going to be heading for a draw and penalties to decide the winner, so take the draw at 21/10, and I like the look of a correct score bet on a 1-1 scoreline, which is a 5/1 shot with bet365.