HOUSTON—Argentina have unfinished business to take care of and the US national team are standing in their way.
La Albiceleste want to make amends for 2015 Copa America final, in which they lost to Chile in penalties. Tuesday's Copa America Centenario semifinal against the U.S. (9pm ET; FS1, UniMás is the next step in that direction.
“The possibility and the illusion we have with these players, obviously for me personally, and the coaching staff, is to play another final,” said Argentinian head coach Gerardo Martino at Monday’s press conference.
If Argentina advances past the US, it would mark their third finals appearance in a major tournament, following the 2014 World Cup – a 1-0 loss to Germany – and the aforementioned edition of Copa America.
Argentina have been playing like a team on a mission, with reaching the finals as the endgame. They’ve made quick work of their previous opponents – Chile, Panama, Bolivia and Venezuela – scoring 14 goals in the process and conceding two.
What makes this team different from the squad that fell short a year ago?
“Our performance, compared to last year’s, I think we’re more balanced,” Martino said. “We’ve had less turnovers.”
More balance is what Martino sought. And he said if changes need to be made to the starting lineup, he still wants the team to be solid.
Argentina has gotten goals from turnovers throughout this tournament and from the sounds of it, more could be coming. Martino said the team, “has more intentions to apply high pressure than to drop back.”
The coach wouldn’t directly say how he would deploy the players tonight. In their quarterfinal win over Venezuela, he used a 4-3-3, with Lionel Messi lined up wide right.
“We could it (tonight), or not,” Martino said. “It depends on how the game plays out.”
Argentina enters the match with less rest than the US, as Jurgen Klinsmann's men beat Ecuador on Thursday, while Argentina played Venezuela on Saturday. But Martino cut off any potential discussion. He added that the winner of tonight’s match gets an extra day for the final, which is scheduled for Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Argentinians could also get a boost from the Houston crowd despite the US being the home side.
“The location has a great effect,” Martino said. “We also know that playing in Houston, there’s a lot of Mexicans and maybe they'll make it feel more like home for us.”