Lionel Scaloni took command of the Argentine team without too many expectations. His was a provisional appointment, precipitated by the dismissal of Jorge Sampaoli after the dismal participation of the albiceleste in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He was an interim coach, the AFA took hold of him due to proximity. His only experience consisted of having directed the U-20 team. Scaloni is only 44 years old, he is a young coach who was given a great opportunity at the wrong time, but which he clung to as he did with rival wingers in his days as a winger.
Helped by Pablo Aimar, one of the most talented footballers to emerge from Argentina in recent decades, he was seducing Messi, whose frustrations with the albiceleste were in danger of becoming chronic, and he was gathering around him a new group of younger players and energetic, uncontaminated by old vices and inertia.
With Scaloni at the helm and Messi acting as the master sensei of the new generations, Argentina chained third place in the Copa América in 2019 with the continental title of the 2021 edition, a very relevant and liberating success, adding to that an extraordinary figure. of games without losing (36) that went to the warehouse of statistical records at the least imagined moment: debut in the World Cup against Saudi Arabia and a monumental surprise. Defeat.
Scaloni appeared before the media yesterday in his first bad moment as coach. He sipped water from his bottle between questions, despite the fact that they were not very incisive, and he seemed to feel the weight of the two embroidered stars on his short-sleeved polo shirt, which remind us that Argentina has been champion a couple of times in its history, in 1978 and 1986, too long ago the last time.
Scaloni tried to transmit calm as is his obligation, far from the hysteria of Sampaoli, his predecessor, but it is obvious that today's match against Mexico makes him contract a thousand muscles. If the albiceleste does not win, he will be virtually out of the World Cup with two games played. A drama. Scaloni, although he said it slowly, knows what trouble he is in. "Argentina is different from the other teams, we are different," he confessed about environmental pressure, the fear of being left out. "When things are not rosy is when we need unity," he asked.
Nerves attacked the youngest in their debut, acknowledged Lautaro, who came out to speak just before his coach. "Did he say that? It is normal to be nervous and feel pain in the belly. But you have to turn the page on the pineapple from the other day, as always after a pineapple there is no other choice but to get up”.
Scaloni was asked by the journalists who had traveled to Qatar about the physical and mental state of Leo Messi, and he denied that he did not train last Thursday. “I don't know where that came from, he did it like always and even pictures came out... Leo is fine. We need him, like all the players". And he threw preventive topics there just in case things don't go well against Mexico: "We are not going to negotiate our way of playing"; "You have to face each game as if it were your last"; "I hope the fans remember what this group has given"; "We are going to give up every last drop of sweat"...
And the obligatory question came, since yesterday it was exactly two years since the death of Diego Armando Maradona. “We are going to try to give him a good day there in heaven where he is. Every time I see images of him it is incredible that he is no longer here with us.