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Messi ready for Copa America semifinal, says coach Scaloni


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New Jersey: Argentina captain Lionel Messi will be fit and ready for his team’s Copa America semifinal against Canada on Tuesday, Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said on Monday.

The 37-year-old missed Argentina’s 2-0 victory over Peru in their final group match because of an adductor problem. He returned to the starting 11 for the quarterfinal against Ecuador, which Argentina won on penalties, but struggled to make his usual impact amid concerns he was still troubled by the injury.

“Leo is fine and tomorrow he will be part of the game,” Scaloni said. “He is ready to play, and we are at ease with that.”

When asked what he would do if Messi made himself available despite clearly lacking fitness, Scaloni replied, “It’s very easy because 99 percent of the time he is ready to play.”

The former Deportivo La Coruna and Lazio winger continued, “I have never experienced a situation in which that hasn’t happened, so it’s an easy decision for me. He is very frank. I sit down with him and we talk about it. If he is fit, he always plays. No doubts. Who would doubt it?”

“It will never weigh on me, because I know what he can give us even when he’s not in optimal conditions,” the head coach added.

The winner of Tuesday’s match at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey will meet either Colombia or Uruguay in the final.

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