Argentina vs Canada Preview | Copa America Picks & Best Bets

Argentina vs Canada Preview | Copa America Picks & Best Bets article feature image
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Patrick Smith/Getty. Pictured: Lionel Messi.

Argentina vs Canada Odds

Thursday, June 20
8 p.m. ET
FS1
Argentina Odds-350
Canada Odds+900
Draw+450
Over / Under
2.5
 -138 / +107
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Argentina and Canada open up Copa America in a crucial match in Group A.

Argentina are your overwhelming favorites to lift Copa America and it's hard to see how they don't at the very least reach the final. They've won the last two major international tournaments including the 2022 World Cup and have loads of talent all over the pitch. It will be important for them however to get off on the right foot here against Canada.

Canada are now under Jesse Marsch and will most likely be looking to qualify in second place out of this group. They actually have quite a bit of talent on this squad compared to most teams in this tournament with the likes of Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David and Tajon Buchannan, so they will be no pushover for Argentina.

Let's get into my Argentina vs Canada preview.

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Argentina

Argentina are one of the most difficult teams to beat in the world because they have very few weaknesses and the few that they do, only a few teams in the world can exploit them.

Even though they have all the attacking talent in the world with Lionel Messi, Latauro Martinez and Julian Alavarez, their defense is actually the best aspect of their team. In the six South American World Cup Qualifiers in late 2023, they allowed 0.30 xG per 90 minutes. They only conceded two goals in a loss to Uruguay, but nobody created over 0.7 xG against them. Even at the World Cup, France in the final were the only team to create over one expected goal in regular time.

What makes them so difficult to play through is because of how much ball winning they have in this side. It’s almost impossible to play through the middle with the likes of Rodrigo De Paul and Enzo Fernandez and then they have incredible transition defenders in Cristian Romero and Lisandro Martinez. They currently lead South American World Cup Qualifying in duel win rate, defensive duel win rate and forward pass completion rate allowed.

Argentina are also one of the best teams in the tournament at breaking down low blocks. The pace of their build is generally pretty slow because nobody presses them, so they don’t rush the ball up the pitch. They like to send their fullbacks high and wide, while in the center of the pitch it’s all about combination passes and utilizing vacated space. Because so many teams will man mark them, Messi constantly will pull their best defender out of position to create space for an easy 1-2 pass or through ball to Martinez or Alvarez. Because the fullbacks are providing width, the wingers will constantly invert and since they are so good at passing in tight areas, it’s really hard to stop them.


Canada

There have been some tactical problems under previous managers for Canada. They’ve been way too open defending in transition and they’ve struggled to defend set pieces, which is something new manager Jesse Marsch is going to have to sort out. They have only played two friendlies since Marsch was hired, losing the first 4-0 to the Netherlands, but they did draw France 0-0 and held them to only 1.25 xG.

Canada are most likely going to set up in a 4-4-2, which fits the personnel they have really well. They are really good at attacking opponents in wide areas with the likes of Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Inter's Tajon Buchannon being able to progress the ball up the pitch and also beat defenders in 1 v 1 situations. They have a great midfield pairing of Watford’s Ismaël Koné and Porto’s Stephen Eustáquio, who are also solid ball winners to make it difficult for opponents to play through the middle of the pitch.


Argentina vs Canada

Prediction

One of the truly unique aspects about Argentina though is they know how to shut matches down. From positive game states over their six World Cup Qualifying matches, they only averaged 0.70 xG per 90 minutes. They will control the ball and the second you try to press, they will play right through you.

Canada are likely going to sit in a passive 4-4-2 defensive shape, try to deny space through the middle and force the ball out wide. Even though they have attackers than can hurt Argentina in transition, they likely are only going to have a few opportunities to do so.

Argentina’s matches during World Cup Qualifying averaged only 1.67 xG per 90 minutes, so I think this total is too high. I have 2.34 goals projected for this match, so I like the value on the under.

Pick: Under 2.5 (+115 via BetRivers)

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