Born in the 21st century, I experienced a roller coaster of events as an albicelestian. At least 90 percent of the albicelestians born in this century supported Argentina just because of the GOAT Lionel Messi. We had Maradona, a person who had a similar set of skills to Messi or even more. The main difference between these two was that Maradona showed character on and off the field, while Messi was known for his shy nature. Maradona has always been given a god-level status in Argentina, because of the way he won the World cup in 1986. So if Messi were to reach close to that God-level status, he needed to win the World Cup.
So here begins the story that would forever be told.
Let’s start with the 2010 World Cup where Messi predominantly started to play even though he debuted in 2006. He was mainly on the bench. 2010 was special for Messi because the young superstar was being coached by the great Diego Maradona himself. Argentina had lost in the quarter-finals against Germany. They lost in the 2007 Copa Final too.
Many people born in this century or the late 20th century were at the age when they knew most things about football. The 2014 World Cup happened during that time. We could understand the game better as we grew. Argentina, to be honest, didn’t have a world-class squad. It had a mediocre squad, even though many would disagree.
Argentina as usual started the tournament slowly. They improved with each match. Then came the finals with the same opponent who knocked them out in the last World Cup, Germany. 90 minutes of play and no goals were shot. The match went into extra time. In the 113th minute, Germany’s sub-player Mario Gotze scored the winning shot. It was such a heartbreak moment for them to lose a match at the last moment.
Then came the 2015 Copa America. Here, too, Argentina reached the finals and lost during the Penalties.
2016 Copa. The same result, we lost on Penalties. Heartbreak after heartbreak over the span of three years.
The thing was that Messi won the Golden Ball award ie the Best Player of the Tournament Award at the 2014 WC and 2015 Copa. But he had missed a penalty in the shootout of the 2016 Copa. After suffering all the losses, he planned to retire.
Argentina now played under coach Sampaoli. To get qualified for the World Cup, they needed to survive the World Cup Qualifiers. Unfortunatly, they had a terrible start to the World Cup Qualifiers. At the request of the AFA Seleccion and many other players, Messi returned. Argentina was playing terribly. Then came the biggest challenge.
Argentina had to win against Ecuador to qualify for the world cup. It seemed like an easy task. But they had to play in Ecuador. Argentina had never won a game at Ecuador in so many years prior to this match. The main reason behind this is that the stadium is located a lot above sea level, making it difficult for international players to play their best. The game started and Ecuador had already scored the first goal. Desperate times. Then came Lionel Messi with a hat trick win for Argentina. They qualified for the WC.
The players on the team were weak. But they somehow passed the group stage. They couldn’t, however, beat the Fearsome France, who turned out to be champions.
Sampaoli gets sacked
A new era began when Sampaoli gets sacked. Normally, countries appoint new managers who are famous. But Argentina appointed Lionel Scaloni, an ex-Argentinian player who was also the assistant coach under Sampaoli. Arguments were raised about his inexperience in coaching a big team. Initially, the change did not reflect well. At Copa in 2019, they lost against Brazil. Yet another heartbreak. The AFA Seleccion gave full support to Scaloni and extended his contract.
But that was just the beginning.
Scaloni started to restructure the team. He made many changes by adding many youngsters who then played for Argentina’s premiere division, but now playing for Famous European clubs and removed existing players.
He built a group of players without Messi at first and started playing many friendlies, World Cup qualifiers, etc. After the base team was fixed, Messi came into that squad. It was initially a little struggle for Messi but later he became settled in the situation.
Scaloni never played great, beautiful football, but he always made tactics for the team to win. Argentina was building as a team, slowly. After the defeat against Brazil, Argentina hadn’t lost a single match prior to 2021 Copa America. Winning the penalty shootout against Colombia by the heroics of Emi Martinez, they qualified for the Finals yet again. This time, it was against Brazil in the Famous Maracana Stadium.
Itnis dimaria scored in this match, which later turned out to be the winning goal. Yes, Argentina lifted the Bloddy Copa America after 28 years. All those who criticized Messi for not winning had kept quiet. It was a victory for football. But Argentina did not stop there. This had been a preparation for the World Cup.
Then came, the 2022 Finnalisima where Europe and South American Champions come face-to-face. Argentina won quite comfortably against Italy (3-0) where Scaloni and the team lifted their second trophy within a span of one year.
Argentina came to the world cup as one of the favorites and was also coming with a 35-game losing streak. But God had other plans. Argentina had lost against Saudi Arabia in the opening game. The hope and happiness that we had all went to dust quickly. Now the match against Mexico was a do-or-die situation.
Both of the teams didn’t play really well. Mexico defending with five at the back and Argentina struggling to break that. When the lights are the brightest, the pressure is highest, and the crowd is loudest, The GOAT Lionel Messi is known to thrive. And, out of nowhere, Messi scored the opening goal and wins it for Argentina.
Game by game Argentina kept on improving. Thanks to Emi Clutch Martinez, we won against the Netherlands too in a Penalty shootout. We won against Croatia quite comfortably and reached the WC final again after 2014.
On one side we had a 35-year-old Messi who was playing his best performance for Argentina at the World Cup so far and has a team behind him who was ready to fight for him so that he could lift the trophy. On the other side, there was Mbappe, the young prodigy who had already scored 10+ goals in the World cup itself (the highest is just 16), and a team who was defending the title.
As usual, the man of the finals Dimaria scores for Argentina yet again. Until the 80th min, the game was quite boring for neutrals as France was playing poorly. Again God had other plans, he didn’t want Messi to win the World Cup so easily. After the 80th min, Mbappe scored twice and equaled it, thus leading to extra time. Both the teams scored a goal each and France couldn’t extend their lead, because of an inhumane save by Emi Martinez.
Argentina had more pressure on the penalties because it was their chance to lift the cup after 36 years. Moreover, it was Messi’s Last World Cup. He needed it badly. But even after all this pressure, arising to the situation was Emiliano Martinez.
Yes, after 36 long years, Argentina lifted the World Cup. Messi got a taste of his own success. The GOAT Debate kind of ended too. It was Redemption for Messi, a fairytale of an ending for his career.
If you are a person who has been supporting Argentina and Messi since 2007, we know that the excitement can never be spelled out, rather, it can be only witnessed. Even the neutrals wished Messi to lift the World Cup, just because of the tremendous career he had.
So in the span of two years, Argentina won three International Trophies. Redemption happening like hell. I have Huge praise for Lionel Scaloni, who worked and won all the tactics he beautifully implemented. Now the world can rejoice as their prayers have been finally answered. Somewhere in heaven, Maradona would be extremely proud of what the Argentina Team has fulfilled.
Last but not least, VAMOS ARGENTINA!