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Messi fit for Copa America semi-final against Canada, says coach

Argentina’s striker Lionel Messi (10) looks on during the first half against Ecuador in a Copa America quarterfinal soccer match at NRG Stadium. — Reuters/File

Argentina captain Lionel Messi will be fit to play in Tuesday’s Copa America semi-final against Canada in New Jersey, coach Lionel Scaloni said, despite the forward’s hamstring injury concerns.

Messi returned to action on Thursday in Argentina’s quarter-final win against Ecuador after missing the final group-stage match due to injury. He played the entire game, but looked physically hampered.

The 37-year-old Inter Miami player missed a penalty in the shootout that decided the game at Houston’s NRG Stadium.

“Leo (Messi) is fine, he finished well, so tomorrow he will be part of the match, we are calm,” Scaloni told a press conference on Monday ahead of the semi-final clash at the MetLife Stadium. “His level looks good. He is essential for us.”

Argentina and Canada will meet for the second time in the tournament after the opening match in Group A, where the defending champions beat the CONCACAF side 2-0.

Scaloni said this time he and his Canada counterpart Jesse Marsch will seek to try “something different”.

“All coaches take notes to correct mistakes and hurt our opponents,” the 46-year-old manager said. “Each coach will have to do something different. We will try to have the ball and stop them from playing their game.”

The Argentine boss added that his side will look to counter the physical and aggressive play of Canada, who are coming off the back of a penalty shootout win over Venezuela.

“Canada has players who are physically strong and also technically good, with a coach who has conveyed an aggressive way of playing,” he said.

“They have made things difficult for all teams. Physically it’s difficult to match them, but with our assets we hope to play the game on our side.”

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