The great rival will not be Poland

France Y Brazilso far the two best teams in the World Cup, and Portugal, with the glamorous Cristian Ronaldo and the hierarchy of his very good players, they have already advanced to the round of 16, each with their own style. The gesture and body attitude of its players and their coaching staff, before and during the matches, reflects the competitive tension of the great event. They play with ease but also with intensity and gritted teeth, without giving or receiving advantages. Always very far from the suffocating anguish with which the Argentine National Team is facing the World Cup.

If for the French, Brazilians and Portuguese the greatest competition in world football is in dispute in Qatar, for Argentines, much more seems to be at stake. Something like the homeland, the flag or the very existence of the Nation. It shouldn’t be like that, but it is increasingly like that. And it is not good, quite the opposite. The tense and frightened gesture of the players during the execution of the hymns, the tears of coach Lionel Scaloni and the emotional overflow of his assistant Pablo Aimar after the two goals against Mexico, the feeling of relief and relief more than joy and satisfaction that the squad experienced after Saturday’s victory reveal the delicate emotional trance that the National Team has been going through.

It was already said in this same space but it is worth remembering: the unexpected defeat against Saudi Arabia unbalanced Argentina. Nobody was prepared to absorb such a blow and 1-2 had the same effect as a morale bomb that exploded as soon as that unfortunate game ended. On Saturday against Mexico the splinters were collected. But the feeling that prevailed until Messi’s goal was that of a team drowned by nerves and fear of losing and overwhelmed by the weight of responsibility and self-demand. It was possible to avoid the defeat that would have meant an indigestible elimination already in the second game. But the tension is still there. And with her and despite her, we will have to play against Poland.

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More than the Poles, more than the power of a scorer like Robert Lewandowski and a team without great lights but hard and worked, Argentina’s great rival will be Argentina itself, his emotional vulnerability and the paralyzing fear that another defeat will end the World Cup adventure in Qatar. If they beat Poland and get through to the round of 16, the World Cup will be on track after a bad start, that defeat will remain a bad memory and energies will be concentrated on the one-on-one that will begin on Saturday.

If, on the other hand, the worst should happen, which nobody wants to happen, the National Team will unfairly experience (or they will be made to experience) the feeling of something worse than defeat. As if a World Cup were life itself and not what it truly is: the most important sports competition of all, neither more nor less than that.

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