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Canada ready for rematch with Messi, Argentina in Copa America semifinal on TSN


Canada will be in uncharted waters, but against a familiar opponent, as they face Lionel Messi and Argentina in the semifinals of the 2024 Copa America at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Catch the action LIVE with coverage beginning at 7pm ET/4pm PT on TSN1/3/4, CTV2, TSN+, and the TSN App.

The semifinal will be a rematch of the opening game of the competition, where Canada made their tournament debut, losing to defending Copa America and FIFA World Cup champion Argentina 2-0.

In that Group A opener, Canada held eight-time Ballon D’Or winner Messi off the scoresheet, though he had a hand in both of Argentina’s goals, including an assist on the Lautaro Martínez marker that put the game on ice.

Canada’s head coach Jesse Marsch believes his players will be ready for their second match against the all-time great.

"It's always a privilege to play against a player like him and our players will be up for it,” said Marsch. “They'll be excited, and the challenge is big so we'll see if we can do a little bit better than we did in the first match."

As for how exactly Canada will go about improving their results against Argentina’s No. 10 and the rest of FIFA’s top-ranked team,  Marsch was not prepared to give away his secrets ahead of the contest.

“I do not want to get too much into our match plan, but we will have to be very good,” said Marsch. “We will have to be very compact; we will have to make sure we limit their space with the ball, we will have to be dynamic, confident and use our speed and power.”

Canada and Argentina arrived at the semifinal stage in the same fashion, quarter-final penalty shootout victories in games they led at halftime.

Jacob Shaffelburg gave Canada a 1-0 lead over Venezuela in the 13th minute of their first knockout stage game of the tournament. He fired home a pass from Jonathan David, before celebrating by holding up the jersey of injured teammate Tajon Buchanan, who had surgery earlier in the week after suffering a broken tibia in training.

Salomon Rondon levelled the game in the 64th minute, eventually sending the closely contested match into penalties.

With Canada down a goal in the shootout, captain Alphonso Davies converted to force sudden death penalty kicks. Keeper Maxime Crépeau then stopped Venezuelan defender Wilker Angel followed by Ismaël Koné making no mistake, firing home the winner to send Canada into the semifinals.

The composure the Canadian players showed in winning their first-ever Copa America shootout was of no surprise to all-time leading scorer Cyle Larin, who says the team has always wanted to be on this stage against the world’s best.

“We’ve been together for a long time and know each other and we get excited to play in games like these and even the past games we’ve played, just knowing we’ve always wanted to play against top level competition and against some of the best players in the world,” said Larin. “We’re a very calm group and we know what our abilities are, and our strengths and we play to that and it’s helping us go through this tournament and be successful.”

Argentina also needed spot kicks to advance to Tuesday’s semifinal, after they surrendered a stoppage time marker to Ecuador’s Kevin Rodríguez.

Defender Lisandro Martínez gave Argentina a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute when he headed home a goal after a Messi corner was flicked on to him by Alexis Mac Allister.

The physicality in Canada’s play has been a theme from all their opponents as they have progressed through Copa America and Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni believes it’s something his team will have to prepare for as they meet for the second time in the tournament.

“They have players that are pretty significant in that regard, and they are also technically good,” said Scaloni. “They have a coach that has conveyed a pretty aggressive game plan, they apply pressure, they force you to play along the flanks and they have pretty interesting players, it’s a very good team that has made it hard for everyone. (Tuesday) we’re going to try to be the ones to set the strategy and from a physical standpoint we expect to be able to use every possible weapon.”

As for Canada’s approach against the No. 1 team in the world, their head coach says they will be trying to win the game and not playing for a second consecutive shootout.

"We don't want to play just for penalties,” said Marsch. “We're going to go out and play the way we like to play. We are going to use it as an opportunity to be at our best and that at the end is really the focus. And what an incredible opportunity to do so.” 

Argentina is trying to win their 16th Copa America title, which would break a tie with Uruguay for the most championships in the history of the competition.

Canada is trying to capture the Copa America in their tournament debut.

The winner of this match will face the winner of the second semifinal between Uruguay and Colombia in the championship game on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

The two defeated teams will meet in the third-place game on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.