How Canada Can Upset Lionel Messi's Argentina in the Copa America Semifinal

How Canada Can Upset Lionel Messi's Argentina

Canada advanced to their first major international tournament semifinal with a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Venezuela in the Copa America quarterfinals on Friday night.

Goalkeeper Max Crepeau was the hero with two fantastic saves in the shootout. Jesse Marsch's squad roll on to a Copa America semifinal rematch with Argentina on Tuesday night. Here's why the Reds have a real shot at glory.

Argentina vs Canada Copa America Semifinal Odds

Argentina-330+410Over 2.5 Goals (-120)-1.5 (-101)
Canada+900 Under 2.5 Goals (-102)+1.5 (-120)

Odds as of July 6

Once +5000 odds to win the tournament, and at the very bottom of the odds to qualify for the knockout stages from Group A, Canada has already surpassed expectations. Now, can they pull off the unthinkable and defeat Lionel Messi's Argentina in the Copa America Semifinals?

Misfiring Messi

While he had two clear chances in on goal in the opening Copa match against Canada, Messi failed to score. He's looked every bit his 37 years in the ensuing games, and a knock he took against Chile has left him at less than 100%.

The mini maestro struggled in the quarterfinal against Ecuador. He had only 33 total touches, and lost the ball on nine occassions while completing just 20 passes.

Messi has yet to score at the Copa America. For all his efforts, he has registered just one assist. Unfathomably, he missed his penalty in the shootout against Ecuador. At his age, he's highly unlikely to be fully recovered for Tuesday night at Metlife.

While he'll always be a threat, Messi's best days are far in the rearview mirror. His lack of pace, and ability to press could open up space for the Canadians to attack as the match goes on, especially in transition.

Less than Impressive Argentina

Remember, La Albiceleste are the reigning, defending Copa and World Cup champions. They're on a nine game winning streak, and have lost just once since lifting the World Cup trophy in Qatar two years ago.

However, the dam has shown signs of leakage in this tournament. Ecuador very nearly sent Lionel Scaloni's men packing in the Round of 16. Were it not for a little bit of luck, and some Emi Martinez voodoo this would be a much different tale.

Ecuador sustained long periods of attacking play and were effective on the counter.  They held 49% of possession while firing 9 total shots (2 on target). Encouragingly, Ecuador won more duels (51-42), fired 10 crosses into the opposing box, and were successful in winning nine aerial duels.

Why Canada has a shot at glory

La TriColor forced the Argentinian backline into a number of mistakes, and their speed and athleticism caused real problems down the flanks.

That's exactly where the likes of Maritime Messi Jacob Sheffelburg and the speedy Richy Laryea ply their trade. Canada's goalscorer vs. Venezuela, Sheffelburg finished a dazzling Canadian move, off a lovely set up from Jonathan David.

That's two goals the Reds have scored at this tournament. Both set up by quick, decisive attacking moves. The exact type of counter that can flatten even the Goliaths of world soccer.

Oh, and Canada's captain Alphonso Davies holds the record for fastest player ever in the Bundesliga at 36.51 km/h. The Reds will need to defend like demons, and unleash their terrifying pace on Tuesday night. They've shown throughout the Copa America that they have the pace, power, and quality to hit out on the break with devastating effect.

Don't forget, Canada fired 10 shots at Martinez’s goal, and had a number of real chances to score in the opening match of the Copa. Steven Estaquio was unlucky to fire his header right at the goalkeeper. While David missed a free header himself.

The quality goalscoring opportunities were there. Most importantly, Canada did not look out of place in a frantically fast paced match against the World Champions. They simply need to capitalize.

Canada won't be afraid to go head-to-head with Argentina on Tuesday night at Metlife Stadium. Jesse Marsch's charges are currently +900 to win the match. That's exactly where my money's going. Go Canada Go!

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