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Player ratings as the reigning Copa America champions surpass Canada

Lionel Messi and Argentina kicked off their Copa America 2024 campaign against Canada, and the reigning champions reminded the world why they are favorites to win the tournament after a 2-0 win over Jesse Marsch.

Argentina started their celebrations at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium before their match started. Sergio Aguero presented the 2021 Copa America trophy in front of a huge crowd in Argentina, as La Albiceleste took to the field to begin their comeback campaign.

How did the game happen?

Argentina dominated the first half, controlling the pace of the game as Canada held the high line and looked for opportunities on the counter attack. The first big chance of the night came in the 8th minute after Kone misplayed the ball in his own half, giving Di Maria the chance to fly high into the unmarked area. Crepeau was quick off his line, however, and closed the angle to make a great save.

Argentina had a few more chances in the opening 45 minutes, but it was Canada who finished the half looking the more dangerous side thanks to the brilliance of Buchanan and Davies. Emiliano Martinez even denied Eustaquio’s dangerous header before both teams retreated to the tunnel, ending 0-0.

Argentina came out of the break looking for a fresh start, scoring the opening goal in the 48th minute. Mac Allister headed across goal from Messi’s brilliant through ball before the Liverpool midfielder collided with Crepeau, leaving Alvarez free to fire a right-footed strike wide of the keeper.

Lionel Scaloni’s men never looked out of control in the second half, when Canada showed promise in attack. A second goal felt inevitable for Argentina, especially after Messi missed two chances he would have buried. Lautaro Martinez, who came on in the 76th minute, gave his best chance to be a part of the starting XI after a tough encounter with the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner to seal the match two minutes before stoppage time.

Julian Alvarez

Julian Alvarez scored his first goal of his Copa America 2024 campaign in the 48th minute. / Hector Vivas/GettyImages

GK: Emiliano Martínez – 7/10 – The 2022 Golden Glove World Cup winner wasn’t tested much tonight, but he came up big when Argentina needed it.

RB: Nahuel Molina – 7/10 – Molina had an uneventful night on the right side of the field, but the defender made no mistakes.

CB: Cristian Romero – 8/10 – Romero used his body to bully David off the ball many times and helped limit Canada’s chances in the final third.

CB: Lisandro Martínez – 7/10- Martínez helped Romero keep a clean sheet and also put in a couple of long balls that pointed forward. He almost gave Canada a penalty in the 71st minute, but the poor challenge was just outside the box.

LB: Marcos Acuna – 6/10 – Acuna did well to find space and attack in the first half, but had a forgettable second half that could lead to Tagliafico getting the starting spot in the next game.

CM: Rodrigo de Paul – 6/10 – Rodrigo de Paul is having a typical night for La Albiceleste. He gave up a couple of costly mistakes and was yellow carded for a green handball, but he also contributed in attack, finding Mac Allister with a good cross in the first half.

CM: Leandro Paredes – 7/10 – Paredes’ contributions won’t show up on the scoresheet, but the midfielder helped Argentina dominate the game, and he always stepped in when needed in defense.

CM: Alexis McAllister – 7/10 – Mac Allister assisted Alvarez’s opening goal and paid for his contribution with a Crepeau collision.

RW: Ángel Di María – 7/10 – Di Maria was the most active player on the pitch in the first half for Argentina, but he should have missed at least one of his chances.

ST: Lionel Messi – 7/10 – Messi provided the assist for both of Argentina’s goals, but he was unable to complete the double counterattack in the 64th minute. again in the 78th minute.

LW: Julian Álvarez – 8/10 – Alvarez made the most of his start of the evening, scoring Argentina’s opening goal and using his speed to cut in behind Canada’s defence.

What you are holding

Giovanni Lo Celso – 5/10 – Lo Celso played 27 minutes in silence, ending the game after receiving a yellow card.

Lautaro Martinez – 8/10 – Martinez made an almost immediate impact on the pitch, combining with Messi and scoring Argentina’s second goal in the 87th minute.

Nicolas Otamendi – 5/10 – The former starter came on in the 81st minute and didn’t do much.

Nicolas Tagliafico – 5/10 – The former left back for La Albiceleste played just 6 minutes.

The manager

Lionel Scaloni – 8/10 – Scaloni made the right decision to begin with Lisandro Martínez at center back behind Otamendi as the Manchester United defender looks to be in perfect harmony with Romero. The manager also opted to start Paredes and Mac Allister in midfield while leaving Enzo Fernandez on the bench, a controversial decision that resulted.

Argentina’s win will not stop Scaloni from making tough decisions in the future of this tournament. Both Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez scored tonight, giving their manager a head start heading into Argentina’s game against Chile.

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