The Argentine National Team arrives in Qatar with high spirits and some reservations

If the idea was that the Argentine National Team arrived at Qatar World Cup with spirits through the roof and self-esteem flaming, that was achieved. The last window of international friendlies before the main event showed a team consolidated in its game idea. With very clear concepts on and off the field of play. In that sense, the rivals were very well sought after: Honduras on Friday in Miami and Jamaica on Tuesday in New Jersey were weak opponents who never seriously competed. They didn’t even kick on goal. They let her do and the Selection did. She could have gone through the same thing and gotten tangled up in a thick, slow, sparkless game. That did not happen and the merit is undeniable.

Beware of mirages

Because there is a risk of overestimating one’s own possibilities and of believing that Argentina is the great candidate to lift the World Cup on Sunday, December 18 in Doha. And it’s not like that at all: Lionel Scaloni’s team arrives well, much better than Russia 2018. But the level of opposition has been too low (his last three games were played against negligible rivals like Estonia, Honduras and Jamaica) and throughout Scaloni’s cycle he only faced two top European rivals (Germany in 2019 and Italy in 2022). The National Team built its identity throughout the 2019 and 2021 Copa América and the South American Qualifiers. We will have to see if that is enough when it comes to playing the World Cup. It is possible that the group stage can be overcome without so much anguish. Doubts invade when they begin to balcony the crosses from the second round where France or Denmark would wait.

the idea is

In any case, in the bright moments the Selection showed a very tight performance. A defense planted in the middle of the field with two full-backs who pass all the shots to the attack and two central defenders (Cristian Romero and Nicolás Otamendi) of great understanding, physical strength and effectiveness in heads-up play. A midfield that moves the ball very quickly and finds passing lines forward and to the sides because everyone moves and no one stays still. And an attack with a lot of pressure capacity on rival defenders and scoring power. Messi and Lautaro Martínez scored 46 of the 90 goals of the Scaloni era. In any case, the deficit is in the midfielders who define less than necessary: ​​between Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes and Gio Lo Celso they add 7 goals. Little, very little.

Messi does what he wants

The most positive thing about the two friendlies was that The National Team developed its best minutes (the first 35 against Jamaica) with its star watching from the bench. There is no longer so much dependence on the Rosario supercrack that he does not need to appear so much to continue being decisive. A couple of brushstrokes in a short time (against the Jamaicans he scored two goals in two minutes) were enough for him to be the figure. Will that be enough in the World Cup?

Confirmed

He already told you, but it’s worth repeating. There are 22 names with confirmed passage to Qatar: Emiliano Martínez, Gerónimo Rulli and Franco Armani (goalkeepers), Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, German Pezzella, Nicolás Otamendi, Lisandro Martínez, Marcos Acuña and Nicolás Tagliafico (defenders), Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso, Alexis Mac Allister , Guido Rodríguez and Alejandro “Papu” Gómez (midfielders), Angel Di María, Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martínez, Julián Alvarez, Joaquín Correa and Nicolás González (forwards). All of them will go to the World Cup even if they don’t play another minute for their teams.

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The doubts

1) Scaloni wants to bring three goalkeepers with European experience. That is why he will wait until the end for Juan Musso’s recovery. If he returns well, he will go, if not there will not be a new call. And Franco Armani will be the third in question. 2) Gonzalo Montiel has no continuity in Seville and Juan Foyth will reappear in Villarreal in mid-October after an injury. The one who adds the most minutes until November 10 will be the other right back. 3) Scaloni is concerned about frequent injuries to Exequiel Palacios and Paulo Dybala. It is very possible that Enzo Fernández will keep Palacios’ position. Dybala will be summoned for now, but it depends on the answers that his physique delivers. He was one of the big losers for not being able to play in any of the friendlies.

The Roadmap

The final stretch towards the World Cup will last until on Friday, November 11. That day, Scaloni must deliver the final list of 26 summoned. The concentration in Doha would start on Monday 14, but AFA will make arrangements to win a week of work and that the players can be released on Monday 7. The friendly announced for the 16th against the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi would end up being a simple informal practice between the two selected to avoid the risk of injury six days before the debut against Saudi Arabia.

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