Messi to Play in Copa Semifinal Despite Injury

Messi to Play in Copa Semifinal Despite Injury
Messi to Play in Copa Semifinal Despite Injury

Lionel Messi won't be stopped by a leg injury and will play in Argentina's Copa America semifinal against Canada.

Messi has been dealing with a right leg problem since the 1-0 group stage win over Chile on June 25. He missed the first-round finale four days later but played the entire match in the quarterfinal victory over Ecuador last Thursday. Argentina and Ecuador were tied 1-1 after regulation time. Argentina then won 4-2 on penalties.

"Leo is good. He will be playing tomorrow,” Albiceleste coach Lionel Scaloni confirmed at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

At 37, Messi has 13 Copa America goals and is four behind the record shared by Argentina’s Norberto Méndez and Brazil’s Zizinho but hasn't scored in this year's tournament.

“It’s an easy decision for me,” Scaloni said. “It’s a fairly honest decision: I ask him how he feels. If he says ‘I’m not good,' then he will play the last 30 minutes. When he’s available, he will play.”

Seeking a record 16th Copa America title, Argentina beat surprising Canada 2-0 in the June 20 tournament opener when Messi set up second-half goals by Julián Álvarez and Lautaro Martínez.

Argentina outshot Canada 19-10, including 9-2 on target, and had 64 percent possession.

Both teams are coming off quarter final wins on penalty kicks. Canada, an invited guest from North America, defeated Venezuela 4-3 on penalties after the sides were tied 1-1 after regulation time.

In the other semifinal, Uruguay plays Colombia in Charlotte.

Argentina is seeking to win its third major title after the 2021 Copa America and the 2022 World Cup and to equal the feat of Spain, which won the European Championship in 2008 and ’12 along with the 2010 World Cup. The Albiceleste are tied with Uruguay for most Copa America titles with 15.