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Copa América 2024: How Jesse Marsch plans to tackle Lionel Messi's threat

20. June 2024
(foto: Getty Images)
Lionel Messi, widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all time, poses a formidable challenge for Canada as they prepare to face Argentina in the opening match of the 2024 Copa América.

Jesse Marsch, the American coach now at the helm of the Canadian national team, has admitted that containing Argentina's GOAT is a near-impossible task.   

The defending Copa America champions, led by the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner, are set to kick off the tournament on Thursday at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Marsch, who previously managed Leeds United and RB Leipzig, is well aware of the difficulties his team will face in trying to neutralize Messi’s impact on the game.   

The challenge with Messi is not just his quality, but his ability to move around in the game,” Marsch explained. “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 ensure he's not in open space. We need to close the space and make it difficult for him.”   

Marsch has faced Messi before, leading RB Leipzig against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. Reflecting on those encounters, he added: “I've coached against him a few times and had some successes, but he always finds a way to make a difference. We're prepared, but we know it is difficult.”   

The match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is also home to NFL and MLS franchises, marks the beginning of Group A competition, with both Canada and Argentina aiming to secure one of the two quarter-final spots. Messi, coming off a stellar season with Inter Miami, remains a critical factor in Argentina's quest to add another major trophy to their collection.   

Canada, under Marsch's guidance, will need to execute a near-perfect tactical plan to contain Messi and his teammates. Marsch’s previous experience against Messi may provide some insights, but the Argentine maestro’s unpredictable and dynamic style ensures that the task will be challenging.     

As anticipation builds for this marquee matchup, fans are eager to see how Marsch’s tactics will unfold against Messi’s brilliance. The outcome of this game could set the tone for both teams’ journeys in the tournament, making it a highly anticipated clash in the 2024 Copa America.

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