Maybe Lionel Scaloni's phrase after winning Mexico had its effect. Maybe not, but better to think so. The Argentine coach said that perhaps his compatriots were taking soccer, the World Cup, Messi and everything together with too much drama, that the players noticed it, that even his brother had called him crying and whether you win or lose, the sun ends up coming up.
The reflection, loaded with common sense, seemed to connect with the brains of his footballers, who finally completed a normal performance in Qatar, that is, they put their superiority over Poland into practice by passing the ball judiciously, being creative and daring in the final meters and accumulating scoring chances, which is basically how games are won. Argentina felt liberated, sent the nerves that gripped it to hell, overcame the Saudi trauma and won naturally, with goals from the youngsters Mac Allister and Julián Álvarez, reaching the round of 16 as first in the group. It will cross there with Australia. Poland, for its part, lost but ended up happy. It is in the round of 16 after being better than Mexico in the general calculation. They will be seen, yes, with France.
The stories prior to the match, pure media recreation, focused on the Messi-Lewandowski duel, but the Polish forward of Barça did not even get the ball. The man was like an artificial island of those that are common in the Persian Gulf, an Asian luxury of prohibitive access. In reality, the night became a fronton between Messi and all of his Argentina against the goalkeeper Szczesny, an outstanding guy next to his teammates, disciplined guys but without excessive grace to do anything else. Dribbling should already be an optional subject in their soccer schools. Marking Szczesny was titanic, they even saved Messi a penalty, but they shot so much that he ended up giving in.
The inclusion of Julián Álvarez in the eleven was decisive. He endowed the albiceleste with more verticality. It was a dagger. Scaloni is rejuvenating his bet, since Álvarez is 22 years old and the midfielders Mac Allister and Enzo Fernández 23 and 21. Julián Álvarez did not stop accumulating attempts until he knocked out the Polish goalkeeper. Mac Allister opened the scoring. Scaloni will be happy.
Argentina kept the ball from the beginning and walled up their rival in a meritorious offensive crescendo. His players seemed lighter, less stuck and therefore their combinations were more polished. Messi appreciated it, touching a lot of the ball and organizing the offensives together with Di María.
Apart from Julián Álvarez, both of them enjoyed chances to give Argentina the goal they were looking for. Di María tried with an Olympic goal that defeated, of course, Szczesny. And then one of the moments of the night would arrive. The referee decreed a penalty for a clearance by the Polish goalkeeper whose mitt collided in the jump against the face of the ten. The VAR decreed the maximum penalty, showing that the referees continue to make a regrettable interpretation of the game: Szczesny hit his rival out of inertia because, as far as is known, a human being cannot amputate his hand in mid-flight. Messi failed, but against all odds nobody dramatized. Could it be that Scaloni has achieved it? There were shouts of "Messi, Messi" in the albiceleste stands. The paradón was enormous.
Argentina continued to be convinced of itself. She went out to the field to eat the world after the break and ate a piece, specifically to Poland. It took only a minute: Argentina deepened on the right and finished off with Mac Allister's right cross into the net. Mac Allister, son of Carlos, that defender of Boca Juniors and other Argentine clubs. I'm sure the man with his son's ass shouted.
Poland stretched out of inertia, but Argentina kept reserving the poison. Julián Álvarez had it in for Szczesny and ended up beating him under devastating parameters: howitzer to the squad. There was no more story to tell. Or perhaps yes, perhaps Argentina has realized that with a bag of nerves on your back you can't advance, you can't play football well. Against Poland they left him in a corner of the locker room and they were even seen enjoying themselves.