Marsch: 'Privilege' for Canada to play vs. Messi

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Canada men’s national team head coach Jesse Marsch called his team’s Copa América semifinal match against Lionel Messi and Argentina a “privilege” before confirming the defensive plan to limit the Argentine forward when they meet on Tuesday.

“We didn’t do well enough with Messi last match, he was able to run free at our goalkeeper too much,” Marsch said. “We won’t man mark, but we will certainly place an emphasis on how to defend him. How to keep track of him will be really important, and the things that make it difficult for him like limiting his space is our number one thing.

“We don’t want him to run free at our backline like last game. But we all know he’s the greatest player to ever play the game, the respect we have for him and certainly the stadium will reflect that tomorrow, but it’s always a privilege to play against a player like him.”

Argentina will have Messi in its starting 11 against Canada, providing confidence to Lionel Scaloni’s offense and posing a challenge for the remaining Concacaf team in the tournament.

“Our players will be up for it, and excited,” Marsch added. “The challenge is big. We’ll see if we can do better than we did in the first match.”

The two sides meet Tuesday for the second time at the Copa América after opening the tournament on June 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Though Argentina triumphed 2-0 in the inaugural match, Scaloni confirmed the first result against the Canadians means very little when preparing for the semifinal.

“We don’t know [if facing them a second time is an advantage or disadvantage],” Scaloni said. “It was like with Ecuador, the game was completely different from our friendly. Every coach takes notes and corrects mistakes. Every coach and team will do something different, we will be behind the ball and try for them not to execute their plan.

“They have players that are important physically, and technically good. They have a coach that transmitted an aggressive style of play, they pressure you and make you play on the outside. They are a good team that has complicated things for several teams. And we hope tomorrow things go our way.

“With our weapons, we hope to make things go our way tomorrow.”

Canada triumphed against Venezuela in a penalty shootout during the quarterfinals to qualify for the final four, while Argentina also needed a shootout to beat Ecuador, as the two sides prepare to compete for a spot in the final on July 14.

“The goal when one plays this tournament is to reach the final and play all possible games,” Scaloni said. “First we accomplished in reaching the semifinal and we hope to accomplish tomorrow the final.”

The winner of Tuesday’s match will travel to Miami, Florida to face on of the two other semifinalists in Uruguay or Colombia, while the loser heads to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the third place match.

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