With South America conquered, Scaloni’s Argentina eye World Cup glory

Nov 3 (Reuters) – Argentina’s nearly three decades of pain and tearful defeats in major finals ended when they won the Copa America last year and Lionel Scaloni’s side will head into the World Cup confident with victory in Brazil. .

La Albiceleste, who last lost in the 2019 Copa America, fly to Qatar on the back of a 35-match unbeaten streak and as firm favorites to break Europe’s 16-year ban at the World Cup.

Scaloni, 44, is credited with winning a major final after six failed attempts. He rose through the ranks from assistant role to manager Jorge Sampaoli, to caretaker manager and finally permanent boss.

Argentina’s FA handed the rebuilding project to Scaloni, who took over after their exit from the 2018 World Cup in the last 16, with him following Argentina’s 2021 Copa triumph, easily defeating Euro winners Italy in the ‘Finalissima’ in June.

Also Read :  Iran faces USA in winner-takes-all match to progress to World Cup knockout stages

The win was impressive not only because of their style and 3-0 scoreline, but also because South American teams have not played competitive matches with their European counterparts since the arrival of the Nations League.

“I hope people identify with this team,” Scaloni said after he was recently offered a contract extension until the 2026 World Cup.

“Whatever has to be in the World Cup (it will be), but we will put every last drop of sweat (there).”

The Scaloni House was built

Argentina have been a top-heavy team for years with a luxury of options to choose from in attack, but were let down by a goal-leaking defense and midfield. Scaloni’s first order of business was to change that.

Also Read :  COP27 delivers climate fund breakthrough at cost of progress on emissions

Out went the aging players and in came young, hungry hopefuls, and Scaloni implemented his vision for a successful team that would later be named ‘La Scaloneta’ — The House Scaloni Built.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, midfielder Cristian Romero and midfielder Rodrigo de Paul formed the spine of a new-look team as Scaloni found players to take some of the weight off Lionel Messi’s shoulders.

Their possession-based play with the likes of Giovani Lo Celso, Leandro Paredes and De Paul freed Messi to connect further up the pitch, where Messi is most lethal.

Their talisman has been buoyed by Scaloni’s changes and tactical prowess, growing determined to perform well for Argentina and even play through injuries in the Copa America semi-finals and finals.

“Scaloni is one of us,” Messi said. “He was the one who chose the national team, the one who believed, who took responsibility at a difficult time.

Also Read :  Worries over Germany's China dependency overshadow Scholz trip

“He gave us confidence, he brought in new people, he always knew what he wanted and we grew. From Copa America 2019, we took a leap.”

The 35-year-old was the best player at the 2014 World Cup as he came agonizingly close to emulating Diego Maradona’s success in leading Argentina to World Cup glory, only to be beaten by a superior Germany side in the final.

Messi was the only surviving member of that starting line-up at the Maracana Stadium. But this time he has the support of a squad built by Scaloni to win not just games but championships.

Reporting by Rohit Nair in Bangalore; Edited by Ken Ferris

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Back to top button