Scaloni moves his pieces again to protect Messi against Canada

EAST RUTHERFORD.- Lionel Messi He will be a starter for the Albiceleste to face Canada in the semifinals of the 2024 Copa América.How Lionel Scaloni Will the Argentine captain be protected from the uncertainty of his recovery? Rodrigo De Paul and Alexis Mac Allister are permanent fixtures in the middle, but who else will the coach add to surround the number 10?

The secrecy surrounding the 37-year-old star’s actual physical condition, who was suffering from discomfort in his right adductor muscle against Chile two weeks ago, will only be resolved on Tuesday as the minutes go by at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford (New Jersey) and with the team’s disposition on the field around its captain.

Scaloni has limited himself to commenting on Messi’s progress with a simple “he’s fine, he’s fit to play,” but doubts remain considering the number 10’s poor performance against Ecuador in the quarter-finals in Houston last Thursday.

It was enough to see his grim face and the limited participation he had in the offensive circuit against the Tricolor to understand that Messi was not well. And what better proof of this than the missed penalty in the definition from the white spot.

“I thought I could be there because I felt better in the last training sessions. I felt fine, I had no discomfort (…). There is always a bit of a psychological fear of having an injury or discomfort,” Messi said after the match against the Ecuadorians.

As it was against Ecuador, Argentina expects a physical match against Canada, with intensity in the midfield and constant pressure on Messi.

The world champions and defending continental champions have been constantly training behind closed doors in Houston and East Rutherford since their 4-2 penalty shootout victory over La Tricolor, following a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the 90 minutes.

But what has been revealed is the concern of Scaloni and his coaching staff to surround Messi in the best way possible, in the sense of avoiding unnecessary movements on the field, easing his load when Argentina does not have the ball and anchoring him as an offensive reference.

Essential allies:

To achieve this, the coach has a willing team and in that order appears De Paul, considered the third lung of the 10, his permanent support on the right, and who multiplies himself by assisting the Inter Miami captain in that sector in defensive tasks.

Mac Allister will be alongside the Atlético de Madrid player as a central midfielder. The Liverpool player was in charge of distributing the offensive play against Ecuador, replacing Messi in the creation. His high rating in the 90 minutes highlighted him as the best of the Albiceleste until Emiliano ‘Dibu’ Martínez’s show in the penalties.

On the left is where Scaloni contemplates variants and has good interpreters.

Chelsea’s Enzo Fernández started against Ecuador with a barely decent performance and it is in that sector that Scaloni has emphasized this week with Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), with good mobility, inside play and presence in attack.

Leandro Paredes (AS Roma) is another of the alternatives based on the defensive game that Canada proposed in the opening of the Cup, in Argentina’s 2-0 victory on June 20 in Atlanta.