Argentina – Italy: the best thing the team can take from Wembley will not be winning a dubious title

Argentina – Italy: the best thing the team can take from Wembley will not be winning a dubious title

The idea is not original, but it is timely: bringing together the champions of America and Europe in a match ensures interest in the media, the public, the sponsors and the protagonists themselves. The poster promoted by Conmebol and UEFA has the pompous name of “Finalissima” , almost a nod to Italy, which will have to settle for watching the World Cup on TV. Playing at Wembley, with the world of football pending and the challenge of Qatar in sight, has a value in itself, regardless of whether the victory ensures an official title or if everything will remain in one more statistical figure.

All this together seems enough to elevate the appointment that the Argentine team has ahead. But, without contradicting the above, there is an element that is still superior: in a cycle that already has 46 games (the last 31 undefeated, the best streak at the national team level at the moment), it is only the second against a European team. And of this caliber: very far away (October 9, 2019) is the 2-2 against Germany in Dortmund, when Lionel Scaloni had just taken down the “trial coach” poster and had asserted himself in his position. That trait, in the end, will be worth more than what the Wembley electronic billboards say when it’s all over: that the team has a brush at this level will be a rare sensation. And necessary.

The change in European competitions opened a gap that was impossible to fill for teams from other continents. To the pre-existing combination of European Championship qualifiers, the European Championship itself and the World Cup qualifiers, UEFA added the creation of the Nation League after Russia 2018, which practically closed the window of possible friendlies with pairs from other confederations. So, like never since TV was seen in color, the team will arrive at the next big event without that baggage.

A few days ago, Roberto Sensini compared in LA NACION : “When you face strong teams like Germany, Spain, France, England and some surprises that are never lacking, they play you as equals and lose that respect that they do have in South America . I like to play against those teams because there you really measure yourself and see how you are, ”said the man who accredits three World Cups as a player. In keeping with this idea, Guido Rodríguez reflected, also in this newspaper:”Almost all of our players are in Europe, but it’s different to play for the club, in the league and for the national team.” Scaloni, in an interview with LA NACION prior to the Copa América, reflected on the big issue: “You are playing South American qualifiers and then in the World Cup you find something else. And there is the question”. Accept reality , in other words.

That is why yesterday, in the bowels of the stadium, and before a training session on the pitch that his team will step on today, the DT himself showed his joy: “ It is always important to measure yourself against the best , that is why we are happy to enjoy this game”, he said in the press room. The data is worth it: from that game in Germany to today only four starters are repeated: Otamendi, Paredes (today injured) De Paul and Lautaro Martínez. If you look at that call, you can see that some now irreplaceable pieces were not yet part of the stable cast: Dibu Martínez, Cuti Romero and Di María , to name the most important. How not to give extreme importance then to such a commitment? More: until the match with Poland in the World Cup there will not be another crossover with a European of some prominence:next Sunday’s friendly with Estonia cannot be included in that list. It is a team located in position 110 of the FIFA ranking, which was never part of the football map with capital letters…

And how does the selection arrive at the expected appointment? Beyond the contingencies (Italy between the duel and the beginning of its reconstruction) and the occasion (the end of the season in Europe, with bodies and heads already exhausted), the game rose in temperature as the days went by. There will be a World Cup atmosphere,Precisely, judging by the sale of tickets (sold out weeks ago) and the typical Argentine flag raised yesterday and also planned for today in the vicinity of Wembley. The absence of Paredes will allow us to see the aforementioned and reliable Guido Rodríguez in action again, in the most marked turn that the initial formation will have. That will also show the presence of Tagliafico by Acuña, who drags a muscular discomfort. “Winning a title at Wembley will always be special for an Argentine,” Dibu Martínez logically reasoned yesterday, aware of how symbolic the stage is. There may reside another special element…

And if it is about proper names, none like that of the Argentine captain, axis of the promotion of the duel . Perhaps the most interesting thing that can be anticipated about his presence has been said by the coach himself: “Messi needs a good preseason,” Scaloni was honest. After his worst club season on an individual level since he debuted in Barcelona, ​​a match like this arouses his desires: Messi has long since changed the equation and enjoys the national team more than the shirt he wears in Europe. For this reason, it would not surprise anyone if he continues the trip to Pamplona, ​​the venue for Sunday’s game, instead of starting his vacation. But, regardless of whether he lifts the trophy today at Wembley or not, the important thing will come later. An adequate rest and a serious preseason, in tune with the challenge that awaits him in November, will be the best thing that can happen to the 10 before his fifth World Cup. The last of his extraordinary career.

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