Scaloni and Martinez hit out at Atlanta pitch after Argentina win Copa America opener

By Sports Desk June 21, 2024

Lionel Scaloni and Emiliano Martinez criticised the state of the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after Argentina's 2-0 Copa America win over Canada.

Goals from Julian Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez got the job done for the reigning continental and world champions in Atlanta on Thursday, in the tournament's opener.

However, the state of the playing surface was a big issue, with the turf notably chopping up.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is used for both NFL games - it is the home of the Atlanta Falcons - and MLS, with Atlanta United playing their home matches there, but Scaloni was deeply unhappy with the preparation of the pitch, with an artificial surface having been replaced by grass on the eve of the Copa America.

"The start looked like the match with Saudi Arabia [at the 2022 World Cup], with the difference that we played on a more decent pitch that time," Scaloni told reporters.

"With all due respect, thank goodness we won. Otherwise, it would have been a cheap excuse.

"We have known for seven months that we are going to play here and they changed the turf two days ago.

"It is not good for the show. It is not an excuse, the stadium is beautiful and with synthetic turf it must be spectacular, but with today's turf it is not suitable for this kind of players."

Scaloni's sentiment was echoed by goalkeeper Martinez, who told TyC Sports: "Coming here against a strong Canada, with good forwards and on a field that is a disaster made it a little difficult for us.

"We have to improve in that aspect. Otherwise, the Copa America will always be at a lower level than the European Championship."

 

Argentina captain and talisman Lionel Messi became the record appearance maker in Copa America history, overtaking Sergio Livingstone by playing in his 35th game at the tournament.

While he could not mark the milestone appearance with a goal, Messi did tee up Martinez's effort late on, with that assist his 17th in the Copa America.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game. We knew that Canada was going to be a hard team to go against," Messi told FOX.

"They were physical, very physical. In the first half, there was little space. It was intense, physically intense and strong and then in the second half we were able to progress and get better."

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