CONCACAF: Canada ready for role of giant slayers in Copa semis vs. Argentina

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Yes, Canada will show up for its Copa America semifinal against Argentina on Tuesday in East Rutherford, N.J., even though Canadian coach Jesse Marsch admits the billing could be David vs. Goliath.

Argentina, ranked No. 1 in the world, is the defending champion of Copa America 2021 and the 2022 World Cup. Canada, ranked 48th, is playing in its first Copa America.

“They’ve only lost twice in five years,” Marsch said. “Messi is the best player to ever play the game. But we believe we have a chance and that’s the way we’re preparing.”

The incomparable Lionel Messi, hampered by a leg injury in the group stage, played the full match in the penalty shootout win over Ecuador in the quarterfinals on Thursday. He’s expected to suit up as La Albiceleste march toward a record 16th Copa America title.

“He’s doing OK and he’s going to be part of the match,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said. “It’s up to me to decide and when I see he’s in good condition, even if he’s not 100 percent, he will still play.

“Even when he’s not at his best, he still has a lot to give.”

Canada, which used penalties against Venezuela to advance out of the quarterfinals, is confident even though it lost 2-0 to Argentina in the opening match on June 20. It was scoreless before Julian Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez scored in the second half on chances created by Messi.

“We know how good Argentina is because we played against them but we also had success in certain moments,” Marsch said. “I said after the (Venezuela) match that we probably have to play a perfect match and maybe even then it may not be enough.”

He’s eager but wary for the rematch.

“It’s helpful that we played against Argentina already so there’s less of an unknown,” he said. “But if you know good teams, the closer they get to titles, the more they’re able to kick it into another gear so I expect Argentina to deliver their best performance yet on Tuesday.”

The winner advances to the final on Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla., against either Uruguay or Colombia, who meet Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C.

–Field Level Media

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