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Argentina overcomes an anxiety crisis

With a thunderous atmosphere at the Lusail Stadium, worthy of a World Cup match at last, Argentina and Mexico they faced each other in a high-voltage, intense, brutal clash, as could be seen from the moment both fans faced each other at the throats when singing the hymns. On the field there was passion, need, ambition, anguish, vigour…, all the ingredients that turn a football match into something more than a mere clash of players and geometric drawings. But digesting an electric shock of this caliber is not within everyone’s reach and Argentina, whose defeat would have sent her home hastily, was knocked out for 45 minutes. Until, suddenly, she ate her nerves and woke up.

In the first part, Mexico assumed better than Argentina that this was a night for heavy metal and not for blues. Tata Martino, coach of the North American team, laid out a sticky and uncomfortable net in the center of the field for the Albicelestes to fall while their two bubbly forwards, Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega, struggled for life on the attack front. Little by little the tension was devouring Argentina, who seemed to have come out to play with a heartburn.

  • ARGENTINA:

    Emiliano Martinez, Montiel (Molina, m. 63), Otamendi, Lysandro Martinez, Coin, De Paul, Guido Rodriguez (Enzo Fernandez, m.57), MacAllister (Palaces, m. 69), Di Maria (Romero, m ), Messi and Lautaro (Alvarez, m. 63).

  • MEXICO:

    Ochoa, Araújo, Montes, Moreno, Gallardo, Alvarez (Jimenez, m. 66), Herrera, Guardado (Gutierrez, m. 41), Chavez, Vega (Antuna, m. 66) and Lozano (Alvarado, m. 73).

  • GOALS:

    1-0, Messi, m.64. 2-0, Enzo Fernandez, m. 87.

  • REFEREE:

    Daniele Orsato (Italy). He admonished Araújo, Montiel, Gutiérrez, Herrera and Alvarado.

It was an ugly first half, steelmaker, with hardly any occasions; a first half in which you could almost feel the anguish that ran through the spine of the Argentine players. Only at the end, when the break was already in sight, were there two actions that could ignite the spark of the match. First, nearing minute 45, Alexis Vega, a footballer with a velvety touch, carefully placed a free-kick that Emiliano Martínez managed to catch. Immediately afterwards, a good Argentinian combination, where the ball finally moved quickly and judiciously, ended up in the boots of Acuña, whose shot ended in a corner kick.

And Messi? Messi is not enough to win everything, and the Argentines should have discovered that by now. In the first half he had a nice chance, when he took a free kick close to the bottom line. His shot, with that telescopic sight that doesn’t get out of adjustment over the years, was about to hit the goal, but Memo Ochoa managed to clear the ball. In the second half, however, Argentina seemed to release tension and assumed that if they wanted to continue in the championship they had to at least step forward, colonize the midfield and look for the wings.

They realized, in short, that Messi had to be helped in some way. Faced with the South American push, the Mexicans gave in and their iron core became a cardboard wall for a few minutes. It was what Leo needed to find the way to the goal; a goal that he anticipated since he picked up the ball in the 64th minute, led him an eternal second through the center and fired a low shot that went far from Ochoa’s mitts.

The players of Argentina celebrating the victory at the end of the match

AFP

Then the Mexicans wanted to recover their previous courage, but it was too late. They took up more space, graciously ceded by their rivals, but they did not know how to harm the Argentine defense, which saw, perhaps with a sigh of relief, how exhausted Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega headed towards the changing rooms. And at that uncertain moment in the matches, when the team that scored feels the strong temptation to retreat and leave the field free for their rivals, Enzo Fernández caught a ball in the area and unloaded a surgical shot, beautiful, unappealable, which Ochoa He could only wave like someone who sees a plane go by. It was the certification of the Argentine victory and the triumph that allows Scaloni’s troops to overcome the anxiety crisis and continue thinking about the future.

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