Lionel Messi presents Canada with ‘unique’ challenge at Copa America

Jesse Marsch admits that Lionel Messi presents Canada with a “unique” challenge at Copa America, with containing Argentina’s GOAT almost impossible.

The defending Copa champions, with eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi in their ranks, are preparing to open the 2024 edition of that competition on Thursday. They will be facing the CanMNT, with American tactician Marsch now calling the shots for them.

Former Leeds boss Marsch has said of how he intends to counter the obvious threat posed by an all-time great that has his sights set on another major honour: “The challenge with Messi is not just his quality, but his ability to move around in the game. He doesn’t show up in the same places all the time, he’s very clever at coming underneath at times and moving off the backline. Obviously any time he’s on the ball the way he can create combinations – and really provide confidence, pause and quality for the team – is very unique. That’s what makes him the best player to ever play the game. So, there are clear things we need to address with him, but the key is to be aware of where he is and he’s not in an open space. We need to close the space, and make it difficult for him.”

Marsch has faced Messi before, when leading RB Leipzig into Champions League battle against Paris Saint-Germain, and added on having a few tactical tricks up his sleeve: “I’ve coached against him a few times and had some successes, but he finds a way to make a difference. We’re prepared, but we know it is difficult.”

Canada and Argentina will be opening things up at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta – the home of NFL and MLS franchises. They both harbour ambitions of making it out of Group A, with two places in the quarter-finals up for grabs.

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