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Who will Argentina and Lionel Messi play in the Copa América 2024 group stage?

With Messi far from certain to feature at World Cup 2026, next summer’s tournament in the United States could be his last.

Estados UnidosUpdate:
Messi y Argentina iniciarán defensa del título de Copa América ante la Concacaf

Defending champions Argentina have learned their Copa América 2024 fate, with the draw for the group stage pitting them against South American opposition in the shape of Peru and Chile, although they will open the tournament against the fifth CONCACAF qualifier.

Argentina to play the first game of the tournament in Atlanta

Lionel Messi and Co were automatically drawn into Group A as top seeds and will kick off against the winner of the Canada vs Trinidad and Tobago playoff tie, which will take place at Toyota Stadium in Dallas on 23 March. Led by Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies, the Canadians, who reached the 2022 World Cup, will be favourites to progress and feature in the summer tournament opener, which will be held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Whichever of the two qualifies, Lionel Scaloni’s men will start their campaign against a team that is theoretically much weaker on paper, as was the case in Qatar. A little over year ago, Argentina were caught cold by Saudi Arabia but recovered superbly to win their third World Cup.

Recent comments made to the press by Scaloni mean there is some uncertainty as to whether he will be in charge for the tournament, but Messi, Ángel Di María, Nicolás Otamendi and the rest will be desperate to erase memories of Argentina’s last Copa América in the United States in 2016, when they were beaten in the final in a penalty shootout by Chile.

When does Copa América 2024 start?

Copa América 2024 will begin on Thursday 20 June 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which has a capacity of 71,000 and is expected to filled with Argentina fans. The upcoming edition of the oldest still-running continental soccer competition could prove to be Messi’s last international tournament, with his participation at the 2026 World Cup far from certain.

Argentina’s last CONCACAF opponents at the Copa América

The last time Argentina faced a CONCACAF team at the Copa América was in 2016, when they took on the hosts in the semi-finals. On that occasion, La Albiceleste thrashed the USMNT 4-0 in Houston, with Messi’s free-kick, a Gonzalo Higuaín double and an Ezequiel Lavezzi strike sending them through to face Chile in the final.

Who could Messi and Co face in the quarter-finals?

Group A is matched up with Group B, which means the winners of one play the runners-up of the other in the quarter-finals. Group B contains Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela and Jamaica.