Aston Villa star criticizes 2026 World Cup venue over poor pitch conditions after Argentina’s win vs. Canada

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Argentina defeated Canada 2-0 to open up the 2024 Copa América with goals from Manchester City’s Julián Álvarez and Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martínez. Despite securing all three points, one player on the team criticized the venue for the sloppy pitch conditions.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez made two saves in the victory over the Canadians. The veteran shot-stopper and the Argentinian defense withstood the seven total shots from Jesse Marsch and his team.

Following the victory, Martínez was vocal about the conditions that both teams played in, noting that playing at venues like Mercedes-Benz Stadium with poor grass cheapens the tournament and lowers it to a standard that no one would see at UEFA Euro 2024.

“The field was a disaster,” Martínez said (h/t Yahoo! Sports). “It seems like a springboard with the ball jumping. They need to improve this. If not, Copa America will always be at lower level than the Euro.”

The stadium will host eight games during the 2026 World Cup, including one of the semifinals. The grass was installed after Saturday’s Major League Soccer game, which was played on the stadium’s usual artificial turf.

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni backed his player’s remarks regarding the conditions on the pitch.

“Thank goodness we won,” Scaloni said. “Otherwise it would have been a cheap excuse. They knew seven months ago that we will be playing here and they changed the surface a few days ago. It’s not an excuse, but this wasn’t a good field. Sincerely, the field is not apt for these players.”

Argentina’s next game in the Copa América will come on Tuesday when they face Chile at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It will be interesting to see if the pitch conditions are up to Martínez’s standards or whether it’s an issue he will continue to be vocal about.

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