Argentina Defeats Canada in Its Debut in the Copa America (2-0)

Argentina Defeats Canada
Argentina Defeats Canada (Credit: Getty Images)

Messi’s Argentina has taken the first step in defending its title. Argentina beat Canada 2-0, with goals from their two center forwards: Julián Álvarez and Lautaro Martínez. The Argentine team, however, still showed that some parts of the team lacked the oil to be as dominant as they were in the World Cup in Qatar, where they became world champions for the third time. Strategist Lionel Scaloni sent a dream starting eleven to the field for his compatriots. From Dibu Martínez, through Cristian Romero, De Paul and Di Maria. The team that mixes the best generations showed their pride in appeasing a Canadian team that wanted to respond with a good counterattack and the self-confidence of Alphonso Davies. The Bayern Munich winger was able to reach the area, although he did not connect with a goal pass or a shot.

Also Read: Inter Miami Wants to Play the Copa Libertadores for Lionel Messi

Messi‘s first contribution on a massive night in Atlanta was not with a goal, scored by Julián Álvarez, nor with an assist, technically by Alexis Mac Allister, but with the start of the play that led to the partial 1-0 for the also world champions. As if he were a nature photographer, the 10 uses a hunting camera that detects the movements of rival players and is activated when an animal, or an opposing defender in his case, passes in front of it.

The same thing would happen 43 minutes into the second half when Messi once again turned to his space-detecting machine and masterfully enabled Lautaro Martínez, who scored the final 2-0. Still somewhat erratic at the time of definition, and in his last role at 36 years old – he will turn 37 this Monday, the day before the match with Chile -, Messi saw in the darkness and gave light to an Argentina that was not very fluid but with its spirit always winner. The champion wins by flood or trickle.

A brave Canada, without complexes – even somewhat violent against Messi – came to force Emiliano Dibu Martínez several times, the Argentine goalkeeper who tried harder than imagined, but the 2-0 still ended with a taste of little: already unleashed in the second half, Argentina could have scored.

In his seventh participation in the Copa América since his debut in 2007, and in his 35th game in the competition – against Canada, he surpassed the Chilean Sergio Livingstone, Chilean goalkeeper of the 40s, and became the player with the most appearances in the history of the Cup-, the 10 of Inter Miami established itself as a standard bearer of soccer in the United States. He is no longer just the face in the MLS: now also at the national team level.

If Diego Maradona closed his participation in the Albiceleste with a positive doping test in the World Cup in the United States 30 years ago, in 1994, Messi began this Thursday a path that will reach its peak in the 2026 World Cup. In the middle, for 2025, FIFA also awarded the Club World Cup to the United States, as if the FIFA Gate that detonated in the New York Courts and sent several Latin American leaders to jail had its continuity on the playing fields.

Lionel Scaloni’s teams, champions in 2021 and 2022, until this Thursday had an Achilles heel: their debuts in official competitions. If the 1-2 defeat against Saudi Arabia in the premiere of the Qatar 2022 World Cup went down in the history of the most surprising results in the history of football, Argentina’s first presentations in the two previous Copa América – under the leadership of the same coach – They had not finished successfully either: 0-2 against Colombia in 2019 and 1-1 against Paraguay in 2021, both in Brazil.

Surprisingly, the first minutes of the 2024 Copa América against Canada seemed like a continuation of that left-footed start by the defending champions. The team with the least pedigree of the Copa América, although already in the countdown to becoming one of the shared venues of the 2026 World Cup, came out determined to play the match of its history. And for 45 minutes he did it. It was the time in which Argentina learned one of the supposed laws of football: that it is difficult to achieve glory but even more difficult to maintain it. Or that the rivals who face the world champion double their efforts.

In addition to the farewell of Ángel Di María, who has already announced that he will leave his national team at the end of the Copa América, Scaloni also began to move chips in the future for the 2026 World Cup: against Canada he surprised with the departure of Nicolás Otamendi, 36 years old, and the entry of Lisandro Martínez, 26, from now on a natural candidate to complement Cristian Cuti Romero in the central defense duo, also 26, both from the Premier League, one from Manchester United and the other from Tottenham.

Regarding Qatar 2022, the Argentine coach also tried another change, the return of Leandro Paredes for Enzo Fernández, but he mostly respected the base of the world champions. If Argentina did not flow in the first half it was because American Jesse Marsch’s team wove a web that immobilized Mac Allister and forced Messi to move several meters from Maxime Crépeau’s area, magnificent all night.

When it seemed that Canada had the tools to leave Argentina at zero, Messi finally deactivated the trap four minutes into the second half with his filtered pass to Mac Allister, who then set up the scorer Julián Álvarez. And towards the end of the match, Messi’s pass went to Lautaro Martínez and the score was 2-0. Not only Argentina enjoys Messi. There is no better bet for the United States to finish leaving soccer and embracing soccer than the 10, continental, and world soccer heritage, even a few days away from turning 37, current and eternal, in search of its third title in a row.

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