Houston: United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann promised his team would go “eye to eye” with Argentina here Tuesday when the two teams meet for a place in the final of the Copa America Centenario.
Argentina will start as heavy favorites for the semi-final showdown at Houston’s NRG Stadium, with an array of attacking led by Lionel Messi.
Yet Klinsmann insisted the US would stick with an aggressive pressing game, which has helped the team make the final four with wins over Paraguay and Ecuador.
“Let’s go at them, let’s go forward and play our game. We don’t want to just play with 10 guys in the box,” Klinsmann told a press conference here Monday.
“That’s not our game. If you want to get in the final, you have to score sooner or later. We’re not playing for a penalty shootout.”
Although the tactical approach could be risky against an Argentina side that has scored 14 goals in four games on its way to the semi-final, Klinsmann was adamant that the US team is ready for the challenge.
“We want to take the game to them as well, We want to keep a high line. We want to go eye to eye,” he said.
“We’ve done that tremendously well through the tournament so far and we don’t want to change that.”
Klinsmann also pointed to Argentina’s lackluster start to 2018 World Cup qualifiers, which has included two draws and a defeat in six games, as a cause for optimism.
“Anything is possible. If you look at the South American World Cup qualifying group — they are not winning every game,” Klinsmann said.
“They lose games as well, and when they lose games they make mistakes.”
Although Messi showed signs of clicking into gear in Saturday’s 4-1 quarter-final win over Venezuela, scoring one goal and creating two others, Klinsmann said his team would not fear the Barcelona superstar.
“There are ways of playing against wonderful players,” Klinsmann said, citing his own experiences of playing against Diego Maradona in his prime.
“At the end of the day, it’s two teams who are playing each other.”
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino meanwhile was unfazed by whatever plans the US may devise to counter Messi.
“He has faced various ways of playing against him,” Martino said.
“Bolivia decided to man mark him, other teams decided to rough him up, to be right on top of him.
“But despite that he was able to give passes, to assist and score. The fact that they will try to stop the best player in the world is logical.
“I just hope that every possible way is legal.”