Argentina ready for underdogs Canada as they aim for a place in Copa America final

Argentina vs Canada group stage scenes (Image: Copa America)

It’s a repeat of the tournament opener in the Copa America 2024 first semi-final. Defending champions Argentina will take on Canada at MetLife Stadium on June 10. In their group stage encounter, Argentina came out on top with a 2-0 victory, with goals from Julian Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez.

Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina had a dominant group stage run, maintaining a perfect record without conceding a single goal. Although Lionel Messi’s form, so far, has not been up to the mark, the squad has delivered consistently, showing that they have learned to perform beyond relying on Messi. Lautaro Martinez has been in stellar form in the final third, scoring four goals. In defence, they have been quite strong, with a clean sheet in the group stages.

Las Albicelestes were pushed back a bit by Ecuador in the quarterfinal, where Emiliano Martinez’s heroics in the penalties were crucial. Back-to-back saves after Messi missed the first kick served as a wake-up call for Scaloni and his boys that complacency won’t help them defend the title.

Going by records and reputation, Canada is the underdog and will likely play their last game in this campaign. Their best-ever international achievement was being CONCACAF Gold Cup champions on two occasions, 1985 and 2000. This is their first Copa America appearance (by invitation), and they have reached the semifinals.

After the 0-2 loss to Argentina, The Canucks bounced back against Peru with a 1-0 win and drew against Chile without scoring a goal. They faced Venezuela in the quarterfinal and won 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 full-time draw.

Argentina vs Canada, Copa 2024, Group stage match (Image: Copa America)

In all the matches Canada played, they had inferior ball possession, apart from the Peru game, where the statistics were almost equally distributed at 51 percent to Les Rogues. Jesse Marsch’s team has committed 44 fouls, whereas 54 were against them. They don’t hold the ball much, but with fast-paced players like Lille forward Jonathan David and Liam Miller on the wing, they have shown counter-attacking prowess in previous games. Bayern Munich midfielder Alphonso Davies is supposed to play dual roles in defence and midfield, down the left flank.

Argentina, a much superior side on paper, will likely dominate possession, keep a clean sheet, and book a place in the final. Lionel Messi is yet to score in this tournament, and the fans at MetLife will want to see him score. Uruguay will be playing the other semifinal against Colombia and are expected to win. It is needless to say, Lionel Scaloni and his boys have not faced a proper threat so far in this tournament, yet they were forced to penalties in the quarterfinal clash. Argentina must be cautious and avoid complacency if they aim to defend their title. Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay has been impressive, scoring nine goals and conceding only one.

This will be the third game between these two sides. The first meeting was in 2010, in a friendly where Argentina won 5-0, and the other was the group game two weeks ago. Canada is yet to score a goal against Argentina, while the reigning Copa and World Cup champions will want to secure a convincing victory and continue the momentum to the grand finale on July 14.

Alphonso Davies addressed Canadian fans via social media: “Hello Canada! Thank you for all your support throughout. We’ll keep fighting and pushing to make it to the finals.”

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni stated in the pre-match press conference: “We don’t know which team Canada will field, but we know their strengths. We will put a team together to counter them and try to hurt them.” Defender Nicolas Tagliafico added, “The overall level of the cup is very even. We are working on the physical aspect and on our football quality, which is what makes the difference.”

Prediction: Argentina 2-0 Canada.