Gerardo Martino, coach of Argentina, has cautioned his team against complacency ahead of Tuesday’s Copa America semifinals against the United States.
Argentina, seeded No. 1 in FIFA’s latest rankings, are the overwhelming favorites to advance to the final and win their record-tying fifteenth Copa America title and end a 23-year drought. While Martino realizes that his team is expected to win, he isn’t willing to take Jurgen Klinsmann’s team lightly.
Copa America: Argentina expected to win…
“As I always say, any team that gets to this stage in a tournament, like the U.S., they deserve to be there. The U.S. had a really difficult road, they even started by losing, but they recovered really well,” Martino said after his team’s dominating 4-1 win over Venezuela on Saturday. (Watch Video Highlights Above)
The U.S. are perineal underdogs against Argentina. They have defeated the South American giants only twice in their entire history, the previous time being a friendly game in 1999. The Americans have reached the Final Four despite suffering a loss to Colombia in the tournament opener. They showed tremendous resolve in defeating Costa Rica, Paraguay and Ecuador.
Recent history in finals…
The Albiceleste last won the Copa America in 1993 when they beat Mexico in the final. Since then, they’ve lost thrice in the finals – twice against Brazil (2004 and 2007) and once to Chile (2015). When asked about his team’s inability to win major finals (including the 2014 World Cup final) in recent years, Martino said: “If we beat the U.S. we will deal with what this means for the players and the coaches and the potential worry that something like what happened in the World Cup could happen again, but right now we have to take one game at a time,” he said.
Martino felt it was important to play at a high level to get past the U.S. “They’re a top rival, and just like Venezuela they can complicate things for us. We have to try not to offer things up to them. We offered Venezuela a little window of opportunity.”
Houston’s NRG Stadium will play host to Tuesday’s semifinal game. Argentina head into the game on the back of Lionel Messi’s sensational performance against Venezuela over the weekend.