Argentina’s performance in the 2022 World Cup is proof that a team built on an individual still has a chance to win.
If “La Albiceleste” wins the 2022 World Cup, they will be one of the most special teams in world football. Eight years ago, when Argentina lost to Germany in Brazil, it was said that the days of Diego Maradona “carrying” the World Cup winning team were long gone. And an Argentina based on Lionel Messi cannot win. Modern football is a story of collective play.
However, the Argentina of 2022 makes the above statements no longer accurate. A team built to serve as the foundation for Messi to advance to the world cup final. The beauty of football lies here. In an age when football has become more scientific, physical and collective than ever before, Argentina can still win the world championship by repeating the same tactics as they did with Maradona in the past.
Echoes from the past
It was not until Messi dribbled past Josko Gvardiol to get the third assist of this 2022 World Cup that people compared his performance to Maradona in the summer of Mexico 1986. After the match against Australia, Jorge Valdano said: ” The idea that all players are the same is not true. If you are Messi, how can you be like anyone else? If you are Maradona? How can you be the same?”.
The scorer who helped Argentina win the 1986 World Cup commented: “You have to respect their space, their playing habits (Messi and Maradona), give them the ball even when they are being marked. For a long time. , this Argentina team didn’t do that; now they’ve learned”.
Before the semi-finals, he affirmed: “The current Messi is the Maradona of the World Cup. He connects better with the team, like Maradona with us in 1986.”
Valdano’s comment is the clearest proof that “La Albiceleste” goes on the same path as the 1986 World Cup. The coincidence between Messi and Maradona’s performances also comes from the statistics.
With 5 assists and 5 goals on Mexican soil 36 years ago, Maradona left behind one of the most outstanding individual performances in World Cup history. Messi is no less competitive in Qatar, with 5 goals and 3 assists. He will have one more final to boost his stats.
Like Maradona, Messi has also played all of Argentina’s matches at the World Cup so far. Maradona hit 30 shots in the whole tournament, Messi now has 27 shots. “Golden boy” leads the list of creating opportunities for the 1986 World Cup with 27 times, Messi also has 18 chances to create opportunities and leads at the 2022 World Cup.
In addition to statistics, there are many similarities between Messi of the 2022 World Cup and Maradona of the 1986 World Cup. The PSG superstar does not hesitate to provoke opponents, even playing tricks exactly like his predecessors. , when hitting the ball with his hand in the match against the Netherlands. That image is reminiscent of the controversial goal of the “Golden Boy” against England in the past.
The system of 3 central defenders Lionel Scaloni applied in Qatar operates quite similar to the 3-5-2 scheme Carlos Bilardo used at the tournament in Mexico. Maradona paired and assisted Valdano, like Messi clearing the ground for Alvarez to shoot Croatia’s net.
“The team was then built on a very solid structure,” Valdano recalls. “In the center, a genius is given the privilege of freedom. Maradona’s influence is so great that it seems to extend to the entire team, but we are a very tightly organized collective based on a strategic perspective. art”.
Argentina of the 2022 World Cup is also such a team. If Messi doesn’t run much, Alvarez, Rodrigo De Paul or Alexis Mac Allister will do it instead of their captain. They always make sure Leo is as free to play as possible.
However, that does not mean that Argentina lacks tactical excellence. Coach Scaloni’s team is among the best-organized teams in the 2022 World Cup. The way they flexibly switched from a system of three central defenders to a defense of four before Croatia, defeating Luka Modric and his teammates with a reflexive play. shows this.
Messi has one more game to go to boost his personal stats and go down in history as the captain of the world championship team. That will be the ultimate challenge for Leo. And all comparisons can be meaningless if you fail.
In football, the winner usually has it all. Few people remember and honor the runner-up. Messi and the Argentine understood this better than anyone after the 2014 World Cup final.
However, even if Leo couldn’t help the team win the world championship, he played the tournament of the lifetime. Messi of the 2022 World Cup is not inferior to Maradona of 1986, at least in terms of statistics or even “ugly” moments.
Sometimes, the championship is not the most important thing in life. As Pep Guardiola said: “The important thing is that you tried, and at least you tried”.