11 reasons why Argentina became world champions
The SE reviewer followed Argentina’s path to gold from game to game, roster to roster to understand how the Argentina championship team was forged and drew conclusions in 11 points.
Argentina – Saudi Arabia – 1:2. Sometimes it’s good to start at the worst
On the same “Lusail”, by the way, also at 88 thousand, “Albiseleste” started with a defeat that seemed impossible. Lionel Messi scored quickly from the penalty spot,
but then everything turned into one of the main sensations of the tournament.
If we compare the starting lineup of the Lionel Scaloni team in the first and last matches of the 2022 World Cup, then a lot of them coincide – eight names. In particular,
the entire line of defense – Molina, and Tagliafico at the edges, Otamendi and Romero in the center. Di Maria, who will then begin to be tormented by injuries, and will recover from them (and the question is to what extent) only by the final, is also in the squad.
And the three who will not be at the base in the final are Paredes, Papu Gomez, and Lautaro Martinez. The scheme was 4-2-3-1, which will not be applied after the group stage.
While starting the match on the bench future best young player of the tournament Fernandez, the future scorer of the double in the semi-final Alvarez and the future scorer of the first goal against the Poles McAllister. The team faces a very high defensive line, its goal after a goal is canceled due to small offsides,
and for two goals in a row by the Saudis (the second of which is one of the best in the tournament), it is unprepared, loses and is on the verge of disaster. Another loss, or even a draw – and that’s it, as it will happen, for example, with Germany.
Argentina – Mexico – 2:0. Five substitutions in the starting lineup
After five (!) changes in the starting lineup, there was a disgusting first half with Mexico at the same Lusail, when there was nothing but a fierce rubilov. Later it was Messi’s life-saving goal from a free-kick into the bottom corner, Enzo Fernandez’s second ball from Leo’s pass,
Enzo’s 17-year-old letter to Messi after the game with a plea to return to the national team … And after the first half, it looked very like it is possible that the Argentine tango will be sung in Qatar 2022.
At the heart of this match, Scaloni changed THREE of the four defenders – all except Otamendi. As you can see, in the end, it will return to the original version. I will not specifically mention the goalkeeper further – from the first to the last minute, the best goalkeeper of the tournament, Emiliano Martinez, played.
This is the debut at the tournament for the Argentines of the 4-4-2 scheme, which will work perfectly in the semi-finals with the Croats.
In the meantime, McAllister has appeared in midfield and will book a place in the base. Again at the heart of Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez. Gomez is no more. But again,
there is still neither Fernandez nor Alvarez – they are the first to come on this day and, especially Enzo, are gaining whists. For the first and last time, Guido Rodriguez appears at the base.
He is changed first, and Lautaro Martinez is the second: it seems that Scaloni is gradually becoming clear with him. Messi opens the scoring already under Fernandez and Alvarez, and this makes Scaloni understand a lot.
Poland – Argentina – 0:2. The Three Musketeers of the midfield – together for the first time
Messi at the end of the first half at 0:0 does not score Szczesny‘s penalty, but from the first seconds of the second (and in the first two) “Albiceleste” erases the opponent from the lawn. McAllister and Alvarez score. This is Messi’s only match in the tournament without goals,
but he is light, elusive, and leads the game. By the way, within the same 4-2-3-1, in which there was a loss to the Arabians. So far, Argentina has started the matches according to two schemes, but the opponents are also waiting for 4-3-3 and 3-5-2…
Two defenders return to the squad – Molina, and Romero instead of Lisandro Martinez and Montiel, and only Acuna is preferred by Tagliafico for the second match in a row. Finally, the puzzle of the future championship midfield is taking shape – de Paul has been playing in it since the first match,
McAllister – the second game in a row, and now Fernandez comes out from the first minutes. Instead of Guido Rodriguez.
For the first time, there is no Lautaro Martinez at the start. And for the first time, Alvarez appears in it. Still at the heart of Di Maria.
That is, on the field – almost the final composition! 10 out of 11. Only Acuña, not Tagliafico. And for the first time at the tournament, Argentina shows bright, intelligible football throughout the match. That’s when Scaloni groped for this team’s sackcloth! It happened at “Stadium 974”.
Argentina – Australia – 2: 1. Brazil, England, and Portugal did it much easier
Argentines in the Ahmed Bin Ali arena overcome Australia more difficult than they should have. They start having problems with a score of 2:0. Messi opens from the field, and Alvarez fixes after a goalkeeper’s mistake – but in the end, the future champions will barely fight back, and Lautaro Martinez will screw up a bunch of chances in the end.
The defense is the same as with Poland, the midfield is the same. For the first time, an injury does not allow Di Maria to start – this will continue until the final. Instead, Papu Gomez appears for the last time at the World Cup. It will be replaced on the 50th. The match starts 4-3-3.
At the stage of the 1/8 finals, both Portugal (6:1), Brazil (4:1), and England (3:0) give out the goods more convincingly than Argentina. All of them will be eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Argentina – Netherlands – 2: 2, victory on penalties. Now it’s clear: Argentina is a contender for gold
The first big, status match is with the Netherlands. He becomes the best at that moment in the tournament, and only the final will surpass him. Every second everything is close to a mass brawl, but Argentina plays better (including the entire overtime after a wild disappointment at the 11th added minute to regular time) and shows itself to be a really close-knit team. And Emiliano Martinez wins a penalty shootout for the first time in the tournament.
It was the only game where Louis van Gaal‘s mirror image Scaloni switched to a three-center-back formation. It worked!
for example, in the fact that with a pass from Messi, the score was opened by rising higher than usual and covering the entire edge of Molina. Only on the sharp restructuring of van Gaal, who was released towards the end of normal time ahead of all the big ones,
on which they began to load, Scaloni not have time to respond quickly. As a result, 2:0 on the 11th added turned into 2:2. In place of Albiceleste, anyone would have broken, and they went into overtime as if nothing had happened. Then the same thing happens in the end…
Lisandro Martinez was added third to Otamendi and Romero
Compared to Australia, due to the change in the scheme in the center of defense, Lisandro Martinez was added third to Otamendi and Romero – the only replacement in the starting lineup. He ousted Papa Gomez from the squad. A couple of strikers were Messi and Alvarez,
while Argentina’s midfield did not change from Poland. Only with Croatia, another person will be added to it – again due to a change in the scheme.
Nuance: the decisive penalty was scored by Lautaro Martinez, who did not succeed in the whole tournament the game, but Scaloni was not afraid to entrust him with the post-match 11-meter one. And he said at the press conference (as after the final) that you often have to appoint a list of hitters,
and now there were more than five who wanted to, and you had to choose. It can be seen that the coach trusts to beat not least those who are on fresh legs, who came to replace. Now – Lautaro Martinez, in the final – Dybala , Montiel …
If the Argentines played with Poland for the first time with the champion frame of the squad and for the first time showed intelligible football, then it was after the Netherlands that it became clear: the team of Scaloni and Messi is a candidate for champions.
Argentina – Croatia – 3:0. Gave the ball – got the easiest match in Qatar
The semi-final with Croatia was the most trouble-free game for Argentina in the entire championship – even with toothless Poland it was more difficult. There we had to wait for the first goal until the beginning of the second half,
but here by the end of the first, it was already 2-0. Argentina deliberately gave the ball to Croatia (they won’t do it in the final), got the space, and took advantage of it perfectly.
No matter how many schemes Scaloni used in the tournament. Now – 4-4-2. For this, Paredes was needed in the squad, which Laos had to remove in the previous match, but regretted. The former Zenit was added to the permanent trio of have – de Paul, Fernandez, and McAllister. Lisandro Martinez,
the fifth defender, dropped out of the squad. Another Akunya, who played at the base of four games in a row, changes Tagliafico. That is, there are two replacements at the start.
The pair of forwards is the same as with the Netherlands – Messi – Alvarez. She makes the result, and for the young Alvarez,
who made a double, this game becomes the best at the World Cup. In the final, he will not be particularly noticeable.
The first substitution of Dybala attracted attention, and not “under the bonus” in the very end, but in the 74th minute.
Yes, the score was 3-0, but by doing so, Scaloni showed the striker that he needed him. Paulo will reciprocate at the end of the final…
Argentina 3-3 France, win on penalties
For the final, Scaloni chooses 4-3-3, which he last used with Australia. Di Maria is required for this scheme. And he is, and the old man is in order. As always in the main matches,
it was Angel who buried Brazil a year ago in the final of America’s Cup at the Maracana. France – not buried, but earned a penalty and a goal – more than a significant contribution to the victory. And if in the end, the fly of genius hadn’t bitten Mbappe, and if Messi didn’t score Argentina’s third goal in response, Di Maria would probably be the best player in the final. But I don’t think he’s upset.
The four defenders for the final at Albiceleste came out the same as in the semi-finals, and in … the match with Saudi Arabia. Paredes was removed from midfield (there were three midfielders), adding winger Di Maria. The rest are the same. That is, for the third time in the playoffs – before that it was for Australia after Poland and for the Netherlands after Australia – Scaloni made only one replacement in the starting lineup. At the same time, changing the scheme every time.
I have already mentioned the unusual role that Dybala played in a matter of minutes on the field – he worked into his own box and prevented Mbappe from delivering a decisive shot. And then he scored a penalty.
And one more nuance: the last, fourth penalty in the series was performed by Montiel. The one who, on the 118th, when Mbappe kicked, put up his elbow and brought a penalty kick, from which Kylian made 3:3. But this did not prevent Scaloni’s confidence, and the defender acquitted him, like the rest of the beaters. Unlike Koman and Tchuameni.
11 reasons why Argentina became world champions
1. It is clear that at the age of 35 Messi had an insight, he was not only a star but for the first time at the World Cup – a real leader of the team. And the team, which included many young players, for whom Leo is a god, was ready to die for him. These three factors combined (Messi’s game and leadership qualities, the team’s willingness to die for him on the field at his last World Cup) were perhaps the main ones. But not only. Let’s try, on the basis of the path that we have shot, to find other reasons.
2. Scaloni proved to be a very flexible coach from a tactical point of view. The team has never repeated the formations in two matches in a row and has never released the same squad. All the time there was some kind of adjustment for a specific opponent, and there was never such a thing: as “Leo will come out and decide.” And that’s why Leo went out and decided. Because there was a team on the field.
Just one example. They say that Paulo Dybala, a great talent and a tough scorer, almost never played at the World Cup, Scaloni did not find any use for him, etc.
But maybe his role, his purpose for this gold in Argentina was to come on as a substitute in the first added minute to overtime,
work into his penalty area and turn out to be the very fourth player who secured Romero, Paredes, and someone else beaten by Mbappe — and at the last moment knock the ball out of Kilian, prevent him from inflicting a fatal blow in the final second of the game?
superhero Mbappe could score one of the greatest goals in the history
Maybe he wasn’t required to score goalscoring feats here – Argentina already scored ten goals in four matches in the playoffs and six in the semi-finals and finals. And this was exactly what was needed – when the already superhero Mbappe could score one of the greatest goals in the history of the game, prevent him from shooting.
Messi, Molina, Alvarez, and Di Maria scored in the playoffs. That was enough. And Dybala will still score. In the meantime, he had to run back, to be in time, while Mbappe was swinging.
And he did. Because Argentina had a team. And Dybala, the famous player who could be offended by the whole wide world and whose usual functions do not include running deep into his own penalty area, came running. Worked out. Played for the team. And she became the world champion.
Last year’s victory at America’s Cup for the first time in 28 years
3. Last year’s victory at America’s Cup for the first time in 28 years played a huge psychological role, especially the fact that Brazil was beaten in the final at the Maracana. This took a huge burden off the shoulders of the Argentines, they believed that they were capable of anything at all.
4. Just in time to receive a flick on the nose from Saudi Arabia. Here, however, two options were possible. Either the team falls apart and quarrels, as happened to the Belgians after the loss to Morocco (and in the second round), or, on the contrary, it additionally unites, understanding that, according to Messi, “now every match until the end of the tournament is the final”, and turns into a gang. True, in the first half with Mexico, she was only a gang, forgetting about football. But then one blow from Messi – perhaps even the main one for Argentina in this tournament – turned everything upside down.
create good relations with Messi and in general within the team
5. Scaloni, from whom nothing was expected four years ago (he was never in the first roles and seemed to many an accidental figure), managed to create good relations with Messi and in general within the team. They say that with Sampaoli,
whom Scaloni helped in Russia-2018, Albiceleste had constant conflicts, and the players did not understand his ideas and eccentricities. And they appreciated the fact that Scaloni in that coaching staff is the only one with whom you can talk normally. That is, he led the national team with a vote of confidence from the players – and did not lose it, but only strengthened it, showing his fairness.
6. Before the final, Scaloni invited five players led by Sergio Aguero, who was part of this team, but for one reason or another, could not play in Qatar, to be in the national team. And for the players of the main application,
it was very important to see that those guys were not treated as expendable and no longer needed material. And it is on the shoulders of Aguero that Messi will sit during the celebration of gold after the final whistle.
He found this backbone in the form of a trio of midfielders
7. Scaloni spent the whole group tournament looking for the backbone of a new team, he understood that much was not going well and that something else was needed. For the match with Poland, he found this backbone in the form of a trio of midfielders de Paul – Fernandez – McAllister (only the first one was initially at the base) found: this group of players burned out the center and most quickly and conveniently delivered the ball to Messi. At the same time, it became clear that Lautaro Martinez was failing the tournament and Alvarez was more effective. He also made his first start with Poland.
With Mexico, five new players entered the field compared to Saudi Arabia, and four came to Poland compared to Mexico. Further changes in the line-up were already cosmetic (1-1-2-1),
and the three midfielders and Alvarez, starting from Poland, always came out from the first minutes until the end of the tournament.
8. Factor Emiliano Martinez. The goalkeeper did not have a single mistake in the tournament, he was infinitely confident in himself. Won two shootouts and made a key foot save on Kolo Muani in the 120th minute of the final. I myself saw only one case when the goalkeeper played SUCH a role for Argentina – Goikoechea at the 1990 World Cup. And with the fiercest competition from Livakovich and Bunu, the prize for the best goalkeeper Emiliano was given on business.
France in 2022 followed by Brazil in 2021.
9. Di Maria’s ability to play decisive matches. France in 2022 followed by Brazil in 2021. Even despite the injury.
10. Scaloni did not go over either the “artists” or the “proletarians” on the field, there was a balance of attack and defense. Maybe if he tried to incorporate Dybala into the base,
two non-pressing creators would be too many for Albiceleste. At the same time, all midfield players plus full-backs (remember Molina’s goal against the Netherlands) could score and give. The team played combative and positive football at the same time,
did not rely on one Messi, and scored 10 goals in the playoffs, carefully distributing them two or three for each game.
11. Fans. Along with the Moroccans, they are the best in the tournament. When 50,000 residents of your far from the richest country come to the final halfway around the world,
you want to move mountains for them. And when they also sing songs like “Muchachos”…