The party of champions was with a 2-0 victory against a worthy Panama with a touch of Lionel Messi that was worth all the efforts that the fans made -to a greater or lesser extent- to be present in the packed and energetic Monumental.
The analysis of the match between Argentina and Panama will be kept in the keepsake box e Lionel Scaloni won’t pay too much attention to himNO. It was a party and was played with logical relaxation. The postcards from the preview of the duel showed what would happen, with Dibu Martínez crying when the whole stadium sang the “boys”, with Scaloni’s tears when listening to the anthem and with Lionel Messi’s complicit smile with his three children. The party left little room for football, it must be said.
There are things, of course. What should first be noted is that Scaloni understands almost everything. Because not only did he send onto the field the same 11 he played in the final against France, but in the first minutes he had Ángel Di María play from outside left, that chess move that distinguished him at Lusail. Then, shortly after, Fideo moved to the right to abandon the 4-3-3 and form a 4-4-2, with Messi and Álvarez in the lead.
Scaloneta’s idea was marked by fire, especially after the great final that the team played against France. There is a midfield that is already starting to fade from memory, with De Paul, Fernández and Mac Allister. But they know they can’t fall asleep because Paredes, Lo Celso and Palacios are fighting from behind, three of those pampered by Scaloni.
With the midfielders, Argentina ensures a fast and good circulation of the ball. And they all complement each other: Enzo is the brains, De Paul the engine and Mac Allister the dedicated one. You should look at the heat maps after the duels of Colorado’s son and it will be evident that he only races for the places he has to race.
Argentina wasn’t feeling well, so they didn’t take the lead at half-time. He played badly, he missed many passes. De Paul was the one who struck the most, with Fernández missing some long touches.
And Messi, what about him. A bad game can be allowed. Or many. This and all the games he has left in Rosario can play badly. He has already given what he had to give; the rest will be yapa. He gave away the certainty that La Pulce is deadly, missing three passes in a row to Di María, a real rarity. Anyone who’s been on the field will have something to pull off when they hit a couple of passes on the small field with friends. “Messi missed three passes in a row against Panama,” they’ll say. Or we’ll say What a gift.
Lo Scaloneta overflows several times on the right sector, with Molina and Di María. But they have always missed the final pass and one of the many legs of the Panamanians has always appeared, arriving at the Monumental with an alternative team. Most stark were a magical free kick from Messi that collided for the corner and a long-range strike from Fernández that goalkeeper Guerra took from the corner.
Scaloni has a hand in the interval because he too doesn’t like to lose anything. Thiago Almada’s entry was good: he gave more freshness to the attack. The other one who came on very well was Paulo Dybala, who replaced Di María after 14 minutes. Both Almada and Dybala connected a lot with Messi, who continued with his night of infrequent passing. Surely the week’s roasts and rallies took over. He repeats himself: if he deserves it.
The duel against Panama was a free kick festival for Messi. The rivals hit hard and were brutal. Two of Leo’s shots collided with corners, a couple more were saved by Guerra, and a fifth went well over the top. Almada’s goal came from one of those who collided with the post, who grabbed the rebound and put the long-awaited 1-0 up.
It seemed that the party was complete with that goal from the former Vélez. But Messi still had a chance and people deserved it. It wasn’t Leo who needed the goal, it was the over 80,000. Then, in the final free kick, La Pulga pressed the ball hard against the floor and left it hanging over Guerra’s left corner. There was the final touch, a worthy closure for the world champions.
Jason Root is the go-to source for sports coverage at News Rebeat. With a passion for athletics and an in-depth knowledge of the latest sports trends, Jason provides comprehensive and engaging analysis of the world of sports.