Messi and Argentina beat Canada to secure Copa America final spot

July 10 – Has there ever been a bigger mismatch for a place in the final of Copa America? Argentina, the current World Champions, versus Canada, a country that has qualified for just two World Cups and has never won or tied a game at either event. 

On paper, even David had more going for him when facing Goliath than the Canucks against the mighty La Albiceleste of Lionel Messi & co, however, the match isn’t played on the pages of the bible unfortunately for Canada in a 2-0 loss. It was a repeat of the scoreline of the opening game of these championships.

At a packed and decidedly pro-Argentinian, Met Life Stadium aka, the Church of Messi, in New York, Canada, who have visibly grown during the last month and appropriately kitted out in red dominated the first ten minutes. With just 57 days on the job, their new coach Jessie Marsch has installed a progressive, fast-paced, passing game that the World Champions had a hard time adjusting to.

Jacob Shaffelburg, who plies his trade for Nashville FC in MLS had two presentable chances that perhaps should have tested Emiliano Martinez, however, they both went high and wide.

The adage is if you don’t take your chances against the champs, they’ll make you pay and on 23 minutes Julian Alvarez cashed out. Canada’s two centre backs dozed off for just a second and Rodrigo De Paul threaded a lovely pass into Alvarez whose first touch was beautiful. His second touch wasn’t bad either as he fizzed a shot through the legs of Canadian goalkeeper, Maxime Crepeau for his 9th international goal to give La Albiceleste the 1-0 lead.

Messi majestic

Ahead at half-time and with the best defense in world football, Messi would start to channel his inner Goliath. Every touch, shimmy, dummy, pass, and shot would produce screams that would rival the famed 1960’s Beatles concert at Shea Stadium, just 22 miles down the road.

His faithful would be rewarded in the 51st minute. Canada failed to clear a corner and the ball found Enzo Fernandez at the top of the box. His shot wasn’t the best but found its way to the world’s greatest player alone on top of the six-yard box. The GOAT simply applied a deft finishing touch for his 109th international goal and Argentina could start ticking off the minutes ahead of a date with either Uruguay or Colombia at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, another of Messi’s homes.

To give Canada credit they kept pushing hard but the pairing of Lisandro Martinez and Cristian Romero in the heart of the Argentinian backline refused to bend.

Marsch has put together a fine squad that is confident on the ball and looks to go forward, however, the lack of a finisher in the Alvarez mode will hold them back. In the world of Concacaf though, Canada can quite rightly claim to be the best team in the region. The US and Mexico will look enviously northward and wonder how they both have fallen down the pecking order.

As for Argentina, they are in the midst of a run that defies belief. They simply have forgotten how to lose, and with Messi the constant talisman, they’ll be heavy favourites to win their 16th Copa America in Goliath’s very own backyard, Miami on Sunday.

Contact the writer of this story, Nick Webster, at moc.l1721246693labto1721246693ofdlr1721246693owedi1721246693sni@o1721246693fni1721246693