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Football World Cup: Poland continue despite the 0-2 defeat against Argentina

Jach failure is accompanied by a special tragedy, the history of Argentine football is full of such moments. At the 1994 World Cup, Diego Maradona was convicted of doping, without him his team seemed helpless. Four years later, a dream goal by Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp sealed the end, in 2006 Jens Lehmann pulled a cheat sheet out of his socks during a penalty shoot-out, unsettling Argentina’s shooters. For a brief moment late Thursday night it looked like another episode would be added. But that was just a snapshot. With a strong performance and an unchallenged 2-0 win against Poland, Argentina qualified as group winners for the round of 16. There the team meets Australia.

Stadium 974 in Doha is right on the waterfront, as is La Bombonera, Boca Juniors’ iconic Candy Box stadium in Buenos Aires. The design and appearance of the arenas may vary, but those who didn’t know better could get the impression of having landed in the capital of Argentina. No team enjoys more support in Qatar than Argentina. And they had all come to this crucial game. The guest workers from Southeast Asia, who enthusiastically slip on the sky-blue and white jersey with the number ten, that of Lionel Messi, in Qatar.

So the stadium was firmly in Argentine hands, and around 99.7 percent cheered the selection. Support was also needed, much was at stake. A defeat – and Argentina’s book of failure would have been richer by a page. A draw could have meant the end under certain circumstances. Poland, on the other hand, could afford to lose depending on what happens in the parallel game between Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

The pressure of winning has disfigured generations of Argentine footballers beyond recognition. All the more surprising how the current selection reacted. The start may have been a bit hesitant, but coach Lionel Scaloni’s team developed a superiority that became constant pressure after half an hour at the latest. Every duel went to Argentina, Poland was pushed around their own penalty area like a handball team. Argentina lined up pass after pass, always looking for that one free gap.

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