Lionel Messi: How Argentina Captain Performed in Copa America Title Defence Opener vs Canada

Lionel Messi: How Argentina Captain Performed in Copa America Title Defence Opener vs Canada

Elijah Odetokun
June 21, 2024 at 10:37 AM
In this article:
Lionel Messi logo
Inter Miami CF logoFArgentina logo
Argentina logo
CONMEBOL Copa America logo
CONMEBOL Copa America
Canada logo
Julián Álvarez logo
Manchester City logoFArgentina logo
Lautaro Martínez logo
L. Martínez
Inter Milan logoFArgentina logo
  • Argentina began the defence of their Copa America title with a victory over Canada at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium
  • The champions won 2-0 against the CONCACAF country with goals from forwards Julian Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez
  • Captain and talisman was under the spotlight, and he delivered a mixed attacking performance on a record-breaking night

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The Argentina national team began the defence of their Copa America title with a 2-0 win over Canada at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on June 20, 2024.

Lionel Messi’s performance is receiving mixed reactions on social media as he was influential in attacking proceedings while also being unusually wasteful.

Lionel Messi, Argentina, Canada, Copa America 2024, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Lionel Messi takes a free-kick under the lights during Argentina's 2-0 Copa America win over Canada at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on June 20, 2024. Photo by Hector Vivas.
Source: Getty Images

For those who are his fans, it was a great performance in which he showcased his playmaking ability, but for rivals, they are holding on to his wastefulness in front of goal.

Sports Brief analyses the world champion’s performance against Canada.

Lionel Messi’s playmaking ability on display

The captain assisted Lautaro Martinez in wrapping up the victory and got people talking about his vision and execution of the pass, leaving the defence flat-footed and allowing the striker time to slot home.

Beyond the sublime assist, he could have had more if, like him, his teammates had not been wasteful. He made six key passes and created five big chances in 90 minutes.

According to Sofascore, his five big chances created in the match is a record for a Copa America match, surpassing the previous four previously held by James Rodriguez for Colombia against Qatar in the 2019 edition.

He found teammates with 91% of his passes, and four of his four long balls were successful. His creativity level was man-of-the-match level, but Alvarez was named the official Player of the Match.

Messi’s underlying stats call for concern

One of Messi’s greatest attributes is converting his chances as he creates them for others. He stepped up his playmaking with age as he adapts his game to his physical condition.

His performance in front of goal last night would be a major worry for Lionel Scaloni, who will need his captain to be at the best level if they are to retain their title.

Argentina created nine big chances, two of which fell to Messi, but he surprisingly missed them from angles where he would have scored 10 out of 10 times in the past.

He uncharacteristically missed two big chances and fluffed another chance, which he should have converted. He completed only one of his five dribble attempts and lost nine out of his 11 fuels while losing possession 14 times and was dribbled past once.

Messi admits poor goalscoring performance

He admitted in his post-match conference he was disappointed not to have gotten on the scoresheet despite a plethora of chances he had:

“Of course, I'm a little disappointed not to score. I lacked a little calm in the penalty area. You always want to score in the first match, but what matters is the result.”

Scaloni will hope it was a day off for the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner as they face Chile next, with revenge for the 2015 and 2016 final losses on their minds.

There were also concerns about the state of the artificial pitch. According to Sportico, he had previously expressed concerns over the turf when he joined Miami. He missed what could have been his first game there against Atlanta due to injury.

Messi survives horror tackles

Sports Brief reported on Argentina captain, Messi, surviving horror tackles during the 2-0 victory over Canada in the 2024 Copa America opening match.

The Inter Miami superstar was on the end of bad tackles, including one from Moise Bombito, which left him writhing in pain but was good to continue the game.

Elijah Odetokun photo
Elijah Odetokun
Elijah Odetokun is Reuters-trained journalist with three years of experience having previously worked at Daily Times Nigeria, OmaSports and El Futbolero.