Marsch and Canada eye chance of ‘special victory’ vs Argentina


Canada face one of the biggest games in their football history when they take on world champions Argentina in the Copa America semi-finals on Tuesday with coach Jesse Marsch eyeing a “special victory”.

American Marsch only took over Canada in May and has led them in their impressive run to the last four in what is their first appearance in the Copa Amerca.

But true to his upbeat, positive approach, the former Leeds United and RB Leipzig coach says there is no question of him or his team being satisfied or overawed by the occasion.

“My mind is wrapped totally around giving our team a chance to not just have a special experience, but a real special victory,” Marsch told a press conference.

Canada lost 2-0 to Argentina in the opening game of the tournament but Marsch believes they have improved in many ways since that game in Atlanta on June 20.

“If you just look at the amount of days that we’ve spent together, it’s almost like the 18 days we’ve had since has doubled the amount of time we’ve spent together,” he said.

“So we’ve invested in that time in making sure that we’ve tactically been clear, that the relationships on the pitch are clear and the understanding of how to handle all moments is better,” he said.

“I just think we’ve developed and we feel more confident in the roles and tactically how we’re playing,” he added.

Canada exceeded expectations by making it out of Group A ahead of South Americans Chile and Peru before pulling off a shock quarter-final win, on penalties, against Venezuela.

One key area where Marsch wants to see a big improvement though is in their handling of Lionel Messi.

“We didn’t do well enough with Messi last match and he was able to run free at our goalkeeper too much. We won’t man-mark him but he will be an emphasis in how we will defend and our ability to keep track of him will be really important,” said Marsch.

“We have certain things that we’ll try to do to try to make it difficult for him, but we know that limiting his space is the number one thing.

“We don’t want him free and running at our back line, and running at our goalkeeper like last game, where that was not good enough, but we all know he is the greatest player to ever play the game,” he said.

Marsch has repeatedly talked of his team needing to play with a “fearless” approach and he said that was by no means simply about being brave.

“For me, fearlessness comes from the clarity of understanding roles and knowing that within the roles if you make mistakes that people are going to be able to help support you in those moments, tactically, mentally, psychologically, in every way.

“The more that you can create an environment where they understand what we’re trying to achieve, where it makes sense to them and they know how to commit to it fully, the more engaged they are and the more they value it, the more they own it and the more they become fearless because they trust what’s being built. And so that’s what I try to do,” he said.

Argentina left-back Nicolas Tagliafico says the world champions are aware that Canada are more than just a hard-running, physical side.

“Canada is a very compact team, with high lines, we know each other well and we are going to need to find a way to hurt them, because not only are they physically strong, they also have a good game that we must be attentive to,” he said.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni says Canada’s performances have earned respect.

“Canada has made things difficult for everyone and we will try to make the game go our way with our game and with our weapons we hope to take a grip on the game, ” he added.

Scaloni hinted that veteran winger Angel Di Maria, playing in his final tournament, could start in the semi-final and link up again with Messi.

“It is a possibility, they have (already) played together and then he (Di Maria) has been on the bench. That is the peace of mind we have, but yes, it is a possibility,” he said.

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