Copa America 2021 is over after three weeks of memorable games, stunning performances, concluding with an epic grand final at Maracana Stadium between two of the continent's mightiest teams, Argentina and Brazil. The wait proved to be worth it, as fans from all over the world could keep an eye on some of the most exciting players on the planet.
The South American competition promised to be bringing us thrilling nights of action and it has certainly delivered. Lionel Messi and Neymar obviously took the spotlight even before Copa America began, but as soon as the tournament began, more names started to win recognition and proved what they're capable of doing.
Now that the tournament is over, it's a good time to reflect on the best players of the Copa America 2021 based on their performances. These kinds of shortlists always require a lot of attention and people could disagree on some picks, which is why we've also made honorable mentions naming some substitutes. Here, check out the Copa America 2021 best XI and coach by Bolavip!
GK - Emiliano Martínez (Argentina)
This could hardly be another man. Emiliano Martínez has had a fantastic first Copa America with Argentina and he proved to be the right man for the job. Dibu got his chance with the senior national team only a few weeks before the tournament during the World Cup Qualifying and he seized the opportunity to remain between the sticks. The Aston Villa goalkeeper has previously proven his talent in the Premier League and he once again showed what a dependable keeper he is during Argentina's Copa America 2021 success.
In the group phase, Martínez has only conceded once in four games, being crucial to secure Argentina's wins over Uruguay and Paraguay. In the knockout stages, he was La Albiceleste's hero in the penalty shoot-out against Colombia, saving an impressive three shots to fire his side to the grand final. Martínez proved his talent, held his rivals almost every game and shown character to be an unbreakable goalkeeper.
RB - Angelo Preciado (Ecuador)
Ecuador's journey in Copa America 2021 may have not been one to remember, as they left Brazil without winning a single game in their campaign. However, La Tri have reasons for optimism as they can rely on youth, promising talents, such as Angelo Preciado.
The Genk right-back has been up to the challenge and provided a great weapon for Gustavo Alfaro's side on the right flank, being capable of helping both in defense and in attack. Preciado has been one of the few to have done a good Copa America for Ecuador.
CB - Marquinhos (Brazil)
The hosts have arrived at the tournament with the duty of defending their crown on their territory and with arguably the strongest squad on the continent. Marquinhos has played a key role in Brazil's campaign as he held his opponents almost every game.
La Canarinha conceded just twice in the group stage, and even though their attack has taken most of the spotlight, their solid defense was a significant reason for their strong path towards the grand final. The PSG captain was responsible for such a good work at the back and for us he won a place in the Copa America 2021 best XI.
CB - Nicolás Otamendi (Argentina)
Often criticized before the tournament began, Nicolás Otamendi silenced the critics during Copa America 2021 proving to be the experienced center-back Argentina needed to get back to glory days. The veteran defender has held his opponents and helped his side keeping clean sheets even in the final.
At the end of the day, the most experienced players end up proving their worth and Otamendi is one of them. He patiently waited to have his chance to shine and has been crucial for Argentina's road to success.
RM - Angel Di María (Argentina)
El Fideo has also dealt with setbacks over the last few years with the national team, but he proved what a world-class player he is regardless of his age. Angel Di María scored the winner vs Brazil and fired Argentina to continental glory after 28 years.
Therefore, he will be forever a La Albiceleste legend. However, he has also been crucial throughout the whole tournament having a big impact coming off the bench. He may have not started until the final, but Di Maria certainly played a big part in Argentina's triumph.
CM - Lucas Paquetá (Brazil)
The Olympique de Lyon star has made quite an impression during Copa America 2021, especially when it came to the knockout stages. Lucas Paquetá was the unexpected hero of Brazil in the quarter and semi-finals.
In both games, Paquetá gave Tité's side the edge providing the lone goals each time in hard-fought wins for the hosts. Therefore, he played a pivotal role in their run to the tournament's final, which is why he deservedly earned a spot in this lineup.
CM - Casemiro (Brazil)
Once again we're looking at another man from the hosts, but there was no room for questioning Casemiro's presence in this starting eleven. The Real Madrid central midfield has ruled in the middle of the park in each and every Copa America 2021 game.
Casemiro is arguably the best at his job, and despite Guido Rodríguez has also done great for Argentina, the Brazilian man has been more consistent and his spot in Tite's lineup was undisputed.
LM - Luis Díaz (Colombia)
One of the most pleasant surprises in Copa America 2021, Luis Díaz probably is the pick which few people could disagree on. The Colombian midfielder has scored an impressive four goals in the tournament, being the only man in Reinaldo Rueda's squad to find the net consistently.
Colombia have left a lot to be desired in terms of goals scored, but Díaz has been the exception and ended up amassing more goals than all his teammates combined - Cuadrado, Borja, and Cardona scored one each. Luis Díaz punished Brazil, Argentina, and Peru with a brace that included an absolute stunner at the last-gasp.
RW - Lionel Messi (Argentina)
At 34 years of age, Lionel Messi has played another outstanding role in Argentina's Copa America 2021 tournament and led them to glory. The Argentine superstar has pulled the strings of the team in their run towards the final and carried it all by himself when needed.
There are simply no words to describe Messi's game anymore as he continues impressing regardless of his age. From the very first game, in which he scored a fantastic free-kick, Messi stepped up to help Argentina beating their opponents in his quest for a highly desired international trophy.
ST - Gianluca Lapadula (Peru)
The Italian-born striker quickly got into Peruvian's hearts by showing commitment to La Blanquirroja's colors and this Copa America 2021 has simply increased their affection for him. Gianluca Lapadula had a challenging task in filling Paolo Guerrero's shoes, but he successfully achieved it.
The Benevento striker has been a constant threat for the rivals' defense during the competition and has managed to find the net four times, first against Ecuador in an eventful 2-2 draw, then scored a brace against Paraguay in the quarter-finals, and was on target again in the third-place game vs. Colombia. Therefore, Lapadula was one of the most prolific and consistent No. 9s in Copa America 2021.
LW - Neymar (Brazil)
This spot also has an undisputed owner, as Neymar has had his best Copa America performance this year. After missing the last two editions, the PSG superstar redeemed himself in the continental cup to lead Brazil's way to the final, despite he couldn't end up celebrating.
Neymar has arrived at this competition as a much more mature and experienced player, looking to bounce back from a sour performance in the 2015 tournament. He scored when needed and provided assists to help his national team reaching the final for the second straight time. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't enough to win the trophy.
Coach - Lionel Scaloni (Argentina)
Taking the reins of a team that has recently suffered a painful World Cup exit and that carries more than 20 years without winning silverware would never seem like an easy task for any manager in the world. However, Lionel Scaloni has patiently led Argentina's transition to a new generation of players and guided the country to a long-awaited trophy.
Scaloni has been constantly questioned from the very first moment in he was appointed for not having managerial experience, but he proved that hard work and keeping an eye on a large number of players pays off. He has "discovered" names that were unknown even for pundits and that turned out to be key for the national team. But more importantly, Scaloni managed to finally led Argentina to glory to end a long drought.
GK - Wuilker Fariñez (Venezuela)
CB - Thiago Silva (Brazil)
RB - Danilo (Brazil)
CM - Giovani Lo Celso (Argentina)
CM - Yoshimar Yotún (Peru)
RW - André Carrillo (Peru)
RM - Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Colombia)