The fear passed, Argentina aims for the heights again

“I think we are back to being the team we were,” summed up midfielder Alexis McAllister after Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Poland, which sent the Albiceleste to first place in the group. vs.

The team that Argentina was was the one that arrived in Qatar swollen with confidence, heading a 36-game unbeaten streak and convinced that Messi having become Messi again after an average first season at Paris SG, a third coronation after those of 1978 and 1986 was possible.

But it suddenly became something else entirely, an anxious and weakened team, after its totally unexpected defeat against Saudi Arabia (2-1) at the start of the tournament.

The next match, against Mexico, was one of fear, faced with the risk of defeat and elimination far too early. But Messi and his family overcame the obstacle (2-0) and were again convincing against Poland (2-0) to reach the 1/8 finals.

“So many responsibilities”

Present at a press conference on Friday, the midfielder of the selection and Atlético Madrid Rodrigo De Paul explained how much the pressure of the result still weighed on Argentine shoulders.

“At first, I didn’t take advantage of being at the World Cup, with this blow that we took. In the second game either, because we had to win. Against Poland, a little bit. But in fact, it was yesterday that we were able to really enjoy it for the first time, watching the matches quietly, drinking mate with the guys, ”he said.

“Later, there are times that I will value more. But today, there are so many responsibilities, such expectations, that we cannot take full advantage of them,” he added.

But De Paul also felt that the surprise defeat against Saudi Arabia had helped bring out “the character” of the Argentine group.

“It’s not an easy tournament. Germany and Belgium were out, Spain almost too. We finished first in the group and that’s a valuable result. It was tough times, but looking back, I think it was positive. We saw how the group reacted in difficulty, ”he said.

“Theoretical favorites”

This ability to react, the quality of certain executives (Otamendi, De Paul, etc.), the emergence of a few hopefuls (Julian Alvarez, Enzo Fernandez), the fervor of a very present public in Qatar and, of course, the unequaled class of Messi, already author of two goals, allowed the Argentinians to put on their costume of favorites before facing Australia, exit second of the group of France.

But coach Lionel Scaloni is wary. “I don’t know if the opponent is inferior. It’s a good team and it’s always difficult to face a group that knows what it wants. I believe in putting aside the theoretical favorites and playing football,” he said.

The “Socceroos” are impatient. By reaching the 1/8 finals, they have joined the 2006 team and can now achieve the best result in their country’s history in the World Cup.

“It’s a football country and it’s great to play against them. Considering the opponent, I’m sure we’ll see the best of Australia. Brains will be on every second,” coach Graham Arnold promised.

Previous Post Next Post