When Lionel Scaloni took over as caretaker Argentina coach after the final World Cup, he was obsessive about France, the group who had simply gained the competitors — eliminating Argentina on the best way. The longer term, mentioned Scaloni, lay in fast transitions, in fast counter-attacks. It was the type Argentina wanted, and the type he was going to implant.
It lasted exactly one aggressive sport, a disastrous 2-0 defeat to Colombia within the 2019 Copa America.
There was an apparent flaw in Scaloni’s argument. His thought of play was a really poor match along with his excellent participant. Scaloni was sufficiently shrewd, and sufficiently humble, to grasp his error. Throughout the remainder of the event he rowed again, and began establishing a aspect that was higher suited to the extraordinary abilities of Lionel Messi.
Match by match Argentina improved in the course of the course of that Copa, once they misplaced to Brazil within the semifinals and ended up ending third. They haven’t been crushed since. And Messi has seldom, if ever, seemed happier representing his nation. Rather than Scaloni’s unique concentrate on the short counter-attack, Argentina’s sport revolves round a possession-based midfield. Tottenham Hotspur‘s Giovani Lo Celso, particularly, has constructed a high-quality on-field relationship with Messi, who additionally dovetails effectively with Rodrigo De Paul and anchorman Leandro Parades. And his partnership with centre-forward Lautaro Martinez is getting higher and higher.
As Messi grew to become disillusioned with Barcelona and remains to be new at Paris Saint-Germain, it seems that taking part in for Argentina has turn out to be much more necessary to him. The county’s footballing public have definitely sensed this, and have constructed up an identification with him that’s most likely stronger than it has ever been, particularly after beating Brazil within the Copa America closing again in July.
Messi and Argentina can construct in direction of subsequent 12 months’s World Cup with a swagger of confidence, and he’s having fun with himself a lot that he’s reluctant to name time on his worldwide profession. He mentioned just lately that Qatar 2022 is not going to essentially be the top. He’s taking it sport by sport.
However — and it is a unhappy reality that soccer followers are going to should get used to — sooner or later Messi will play his final sport. On the age of 34, his closing look is in sight. We’ll all should get by with out him. Argentina must get by with out him.
It’s potential that Friday’s match away to Uruguay will provide a sneak preview into this unthinkable future. Messi just isn’t 100% match, with each knee and muscular issues. PSG are far from happy that he travelled across the Atlantic — they assume he ought to have stayed in Europe, engaged on his health.
Messi has been coaching however there should certainly be a temptation to let him relaxation up and hold him recent for Tuesday’s house sport towards Brazil. It’s most likely not a temptation that Messi will really feel as he’s infamous for desirous to play on a regular basis. But when Scaloni does go away him out of the Uruguay sport, how can Argentina fill the void?
Within the earlier qualification marketing campaign, for Russia 2018, Messi missed plenty of video games by means of harm and suspension, and Argentina struggled desperately with out him. He needed to carry out heroics within the house straight to make sure that the group booked their place. This time, he has been ever current. Scaloni has not needed to do with out him in a aggressive match. If Messi doesn’t play on Friday, then the Uruguay sport — towards extremely motivated, harmful opponents — turns into an enchanting peak into the longer term.
What may Scaloni do?
Maybe the closest, best alternative could be Paulo Dybala. The Juventus striker has but to make an influence in what to date has been a particularly disappointing worldwide profession. One of many issues, as Dybala has confessed up to now, has been the problem of clicking with Messi. Usually each of them could be seeking to obtain the ball in the identical house, and there is just one winner in that contest. Dybala has reduce a diminished, intimidated determine. Maybe he’s now sufficiently mature to reap the benefits of Messi’s potential absence.
One other alternative with apparent virtues could be that of Joaquin Correa, typically utilized by Scaloni as a second-half substitute. Correa has incessantly come on to fill the centre-forward place, for which he isn’t a pure. Now he might line up alongside the true centre-forward, his Internazionale teammate Martinez.
And there’s a third risk, one being pushed strongly by the Argentine press — River Plate’s Julian Alvarez.
There may be some hometown bias on this. With all the celebs primarily based in Europe, there may be all the time delight to see home-based gamers get the decision. This may attain ludicrous, even childish ranges of nationalism. Earlier than the final World Cup, for instance, some within the native media pushed the concept of the nationwide group being composed of Messi, Cristian Pavon and 9 others, and Boca Juniors winger Pavon was nowhere close to adequate to obtain such hype.
Is it completely different with Alvarez? The 21-year-old striker definitely has the potential to be a star. Fast, skillful, clever and versatile, he can play all throughout the attacking line and, along with his particular person expertise, he’s a pure collaborator, utilizing swift passes to unlock opposing defences. It’s stunning that Alvarez remains to be primarily based in Argentina, however River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo has made some extent of bringing him alongside gently, establishing a profession for the long-term reasonably than in search of the short-term sale.
Has he been making a reputation for himself in a consolation zone, or may he be the kind of participant adequate to step into Messi’s boots with out it being embarrassing? These are questions that stretch effectively past the sport towards Uruguay. However Friday evening in Montevideo may furnish some intriguing proof.