The victory in the final of the Copa América 2021against Brazil and at the Maracaná, ushered in a new era in Argentine National Team. Subsequent events prove it and it is not necessary to delve into explanations. The release achieved after winning the title caused a brilliant football growth. A growth that had its maximum peak in the world final. Because the party against France in Lusail marked the apogee of an era which had started more than a year earlier.
The final takeoff began in a game of South American Qualifiers ante Uruguay. In October 2021, the team led by Lionel Scaloni gave his first football exhibition with a 3-0 outstanding thanks to the goals of Lionel Messi, Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martínez. Until that day, the Albiceleste had shown signs of character and strength, with some flashes of good play, but against the team led by Oscar Tabárez in the second game with an audience after the pandemic, Argentina showed itself for the first time as a machine capable of anything. A new era of world football was born that day.
The National Team that won the World Cup in Qatar combined many of the historical virtues of football in this country. Touch, dribbling, fierceness, mischief, talent and temperament. He always knew what key to press to overcome difficulties. The transformation was gradual since Scaloni’s arrival in September 2018. And it was completed against Uruguay in 2021. From there, the only thing left to do was sustain performance. Perhaps the most difficult.
Uruguay in Qualifiers, Italy in the Final, France in the World Cup. In these three meetings is the pinnacle of football excellence of this time. Three moments of maximum splendor in the epic of one of the best national teams in history.
Of course, on that path, The beginning deserves a special highlight. The brilliance of the match against Uruguay It had the charm of the unexpected. Because today it is already part of our daily life, but in reality Nobody expected this full Argentina. He arrived without warning, as his goals often arrive. So natural, spontaneous. This fierce, brave and increasingly luxurious team emerged from one that wavered in its inconsequentiality and that until the Copa América had only shown some timid reactions. It was a sudden metamorphosis, as if the victory at the Maracaná were so powerful as to illuminate the future.
Since that unforgettable final win, the first in almost thirty years, everything fell into place. On and off the court. Because that team that was formed in anodyne matches, without an audience and under a stony silence, in that duel against Celeste, was the first of the several mass baths that it had and will have. He immersed himself, once and always, in a popular affection unknown for a Selection.
Until the 3-0 win over Uruguay, Scaloni’s team had never played that way, neither in terms of the quantity of domain time nor its quality. The already implicit and identifying virtues of today’s world champion emerged like never before. He demonstrated ferocity in pressure and recovery, voracious offensive appetite and an attacking game without hesitation. It does not have overly complex tactical foundations nor does it have any pretensions of style or search for a “signature game.” Perhaps that is the great virtue of Lionel Scaloni: understand who gets along best and give them freedom. The benefits of a coach.
Enzo Fernández and Alexis Mac Allister, whose partnership represents the total evolution of an idea, were not yet there, but the union of men who speak the same language. And that premise remained: Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso, De Paul, Messi and Ángel Di María share language and also write a wonderful story with those words.
The fierceness, which in attack is observed in the verticality to search for the rival goal and in the creation of the ability to search for each other and in the dynamics of movements, starts from the midfielders and also from two other fundamental names in this story: Emiliano Martínez and Cristian Romero. Today, they are the best in the world in their positions and not only give hierarchy to the team, but also new blood and vitality. Contagion they call it.
The last (actually, the first) gear in the machine is Messi. Both in the afternoon programs and on platforms and social networks, “old” journalists and modern “content creators” agree that the best Messi of the National Team was born after the Copa América. The truth is that it makes no sense to compare, because Messi was always the same. The only difference is his own life. At this moment, he knows almost everything he should know about the game and is surrounded by companions who accompany him, who look for him and, above all, who find him. Watching him play is moving, because of the art and the joy. It was demonstrated better than ever in Qatar 2022.
The post first appeared on www.espn.com.ar