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Canada, Argentina set to open up Copa America tonight on TSN


For the first time ever, Canada is set to take the pitch at a Copa America and the challenge can't be any steeper.

Across the field from Canada on Thursday night in Atlanta will be Lionel Messi and the rest of the Copa and World Cup holders, Argentina.

You can watch Argentina vs. Canada LIVE on Thursday night with coverage getting underway at 7pm et/4pm pt on TSN1/4, CTV2, and the TSN App.

New manager Jesse Marsch, who will be in charge of the team in a competitive fixture for the first time, says that while his team obviously respects the champions, he's more concerned about what he sees from Canada.

"We don't look at this as how good Argentina is, we look at it as an opportunity for us to grow, for us to be better and for us to prove to ourselves how good we can be," Marsch said.

Still, Marsch knows that the team will have to deal with the iconic Messi, who will be playing in a seventh Copa.

"I think the challenge with Messi is not just his quality, but his ability to kind of move around in the game," Marsch said. "He doesn't just show up in the same places all the time. He's very clever about coming underneath at times, about how he moves off the back line. Obviously, anytime he gets on the ball, the way that he can start to create combinations and really provide confidence and poise and quality for the team is very unique, right? This is what makes him the best player to ever play the game."

Of course, Messi won't be the only threat Canada must face against a deep Argentina side laden with offensive flair. Inter's Lautaro Martinez is expected to start up front with 36-year-old Angel Di Maria, in his final international tournament, on the wing. Manchester-based duo Julian Alvarez of City and Alejandro Garnacho of United are bench options.

With Marsch having seen Canada against high-calibre opposition in a pair of June friendlies against the Netherlands and France, the former RB Leipzig and Leeds manager will have a better idea of how to line up against Argentina. One decision that Marsch is keeping close to the vest is at goalkeeper. After handing Dayne St. Clair a start against the Oranje, he turned to Maxime Crepeau to take on Les Bleues. He doesn't intend to reveal his starter until his lineup is announced.

Albiceleste manager Lionel Scaloni is expecting a fight.

"Canada is a very good team, they have important players and a new coach who has brought in new ideas," Scaloni said. "They are a complicated opponent, but we are prepared to play our game."

Canada and Argentina have played just one time before, but neither team can glean much from that result since the match was played in 2010. It wasn't a pretty evening in Buenos Aires for the CanMNT. Goals from Di Maria, Carlos Tevez, Kun Aguero and a brace from Maxi Lopez gave the Albiceleste a 5-0 victory. Only Di Maria and Nicolas Otamendi return from that match 14 years ago.

POTENTIAL ARGENTINA XI (4-3-3): Emi Martinez; Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico; Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes, Alexis Mac Allister; Angel Di Maria, Lautaro Martinez, Lionel Messi

POTENTIAL CANADA XI (4-4-2): Maxime Crepeau; Alistair Johnston, Moise Bombito, Derek Cornelius, Alphonso Davies; Tajon Buchanan, Ismael Kone, Stephen Eustaquio, Liam Millar; Jonathan David, Cyle Larin