World Cup Daily Diary: Argentina takes it all
How do you throw the trophy twice and still walk away with it?
Some people think that a higher power has a hand, that there is some predetermined plan for Lionel Messi to win his World Cup, to mark the final i on the map. his résumé, that it was as simple as that. Others would suggest that Argentina are just better at penalties, and somehow, somehow, by the toe length of Emi Martinez, they got there. Or you could say it was just a bunch of weird things that happened.
Because Argentina stole the trophy. France spent 79 minutes looking for bits and pieces of a team that had spent the weekend with the flu. While Didier Deschamps’ tactics never really made France look alive, at least until they got the ball in to Kylian Mbappé, that approach (combined with people running around as if they were trying) being very careful not to pee in my pants) produced a very good result. lethargic and ignorant performance. France is not only behind Argentina but also second in everything. Playing a medium block or low block works when you close the space you intended. It’s not so much when you just stand still, like the Fa basically did.
How France has felt about the virus that has hit their team this week, we will probably never know the full extent of it. But there are some penalties for letting Antoine Griezmann, who is essentially a striker, play in midfield, especially when he’s up against a dynamic and industrious opposing midfield like Enzo Fernández, Rodrigo De Paul and Alexis Mac Allister. Argentina outnumbered, dominated, more discerning and beat the French midfield, essentially having a 3v2 advantage over Griezmann cut off everything.
While we will all remember this game for the last 40 minutes, France should be forever grateful for that, because the first 80 minutes they went nowhere. Until the first penalty, they had a shot off target. Argentina knocked Griezmann and Mbappé out of the game by simply always having the ball and then cutting any of their passes on the rare occasion that France were able to revive by stringing three passes together. . The number of times France has thrown the ball out of bounds is astounding. “Stumbling” would be an appropriate word to describe the way they move on the field.
Argentina’s big call was to bring in Angel Di Maria to start the game, aiming to attack the weak link in the French defence, with Jules Koundé playing the role of a full-back when he was actually a full-back. central defender. The funny thing is that Argentina’s first goal came when they dragged Koundé inside, let Ousmane Dembélé defend Di Maria and awarded a penalty.
One of the other French decisions that we won’t know whether it was a tactical one or a sickness one was to put Dayot Upamecano back at center-back against Ibrahima Konaté, who was later to be the star of the semi-final against Morocco. . Ibrahima Konaté is said to have contracted the flu earlier in the week, so his health remains a mystery. But it was Upamecano who was elevated and completely flustered by Messi’s touch and passed to Julian Álvarez, who triggered one of the most spectacular counter-attacks you’ll ever see.
Again, Argentina’s ease of passing and trailing France on this counter may be due to France’s lack of legs due to a fever and hastily ate lunch a few days before, but that doesn’t detract from the artistry of the French. it.
And from then on it should be child’s play. And it was! Argentina continued to control the game and hold the ball without aggressive pressure in the third half when everything should have ended. But it also doesn’t feel like they have to. The Dharma offers nothing, does nothing, and it feels like they have accepted their fate and just want to go back to bed.
But this is Argentina, who look chaotic in defence while always doing just enough to get through. Argentina managed to take a two-goal lead against Australia. They took a two-goal lead for the Netherlands. Only against Croatia do they seem to be struggling, and that’s because they have a three-goal lead. This leaves them with a little lack of urgency to get a third table against France which is quite curious.
Not that France started knocking on the door. The penalty that Nicolás Otamendi took was nothing more than a hopeless penalty that made Otamendi lose his position and had to pull Muani back.
Once you open the door to chaos, chaos will usually pass. It was like two teams swapping shirts at the time. When Mbappé’s penalty went into the net, Argentina felt as if they only needed a second to know, and there was nothing they could do to stop it. Adrien Rabiot’s pass for Mbappé to score the equalizer wasn’t even a great pass…except that France eventually got the ball into their star and let him do the bad thing. The score was 1-2 with Marcus Thuram and suddenly France sent Undertaker into extra time.
Usually, extra time is just a 30-minute performance by 22 exhausted players trying not to screw up and cost their team an important game. That is almost always exacerbated during a World Cup when the stakes are highest. But again, this is Argentina, who are the Tin Cup of football and just need to hit a treble with a lousy lie to try to reach the green for two innings instead of just holding the ball. Like extra time against the Netherlands, they were in control again and created most of the chances. France emptied their midfield to try to equalize in normal game time, so Argentina gained the advantage again.
And if Lautaro Martinez hadn’t become the darling of Romelu Lukaku and Gonzalo Higuaín, perhaps the penalties wouldn’t have been necessary. He blew a chance in the first half of stoppage time by making a touch he didn’t need and allowing Upamecano time to cross to parry his shot. At the very end of extra time, he had a free header that he went completely in the wrong direction.
However, he will argue that he has already established Messi’s clear winner:
And yet, when you want to shoot yourself in the face, and none more so than Argentina, you will succeed in opening a new hole in your skull. So you’ll slide out to block an elbow shot in a cockfight, causing Mbappé to incur a second penalty.
And Argentina may have and should have lost everything.
It was just another dribble that Argentina tried to turn into France’s best chance of the game. And considering that Martinez barely cares about it, that might lead one to conclude that yes, it all has to be. The World Cup is always in Messi’s hands. Or Martinez assigns a time to perfect this.
And so it ended after another penalty shootout, with Argentina not losing.
It’s probably the best last genre, and certainly the best to watch, in that you can read whatever you want in it. Fateful aspect for Argentina. Or it could be a testament to their tenacity and willpower in the face of their own series of self-destructive behaviors. Rarely does a team have to survive on its own, overcome the worst habits and still rise to the top. Or perhaps it was the heroism of Mbappé, who essentially led France to almost the second consecutive World Cup of his own. As well as Mbappé seems to be resistant to viruses. It could be all of those things.
Never before has a World Cup champion waged a war on himself like Argentina. They played brilliantly in the further stages, as evidenced by the second or third goal against Croatia. However, their defense always felt like they might step on a landmine they forgot to put in the ground, and it did. Perhaps the best illustration of Messi’s excellence is that he was able to overcome the lack of defense and his team’s determination to make it difficult.
The finale, at least in its final third, is everything at once. Argentina has been everything at once in the whole tournament. In that sense, only they can win such a game. When chaos boils inside, chaos on the outside seems the norm.
Goals for the day
Argentina’s fluid play, the definition of counter-attacking football should be embodied in academies around the world, but Mbappé is a giant with turns he has to accept:
Does VAR damage anything?
It’s a bit odd that none of the Argentine penalties were checked, as it seemed rather light, but other than that, it was still out of control.
Did Alexi Lalas say anything stupid?
Let’s enjoy the eight months we’ll have before he doesn’t need to focus on coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup so we won’t have to hear him speak louder and faster when saying something more important.
A eulogy for the departed
It’s strange that a team that was so close to accomplishing something fundamentally unheard of in modern times, defending the World Cup, was to be quietly mourned outside of France. France will say they played the way they had to to achieve so much and we can all do the same if we don’t like it. And this is all proof of the ridiculously simple level of depth the country has. They lost their entire midfield before the tournament started, no matter. They lost their starting left-back in the first game, and could have brought in a better one, who happens to be his brother. The Ballon d’Or holders fell apart before the tournament even started, and so did his reserve, but France still had strikers around who combined attack better than those guys.
And yet, given how outdated they can make things, given how conservative they are, it doesn’t sound like a huge loss or a missed opportunity. France almost every game boils down to a moment or two where they are extremely confident they will go through thanks to their talent and experience. They came across a team in Argentina who accidentally caused many such moments.
They’ll probably always wonder what would have happened if their preparations hadn’t been jostled/destroyed by the flu. It’s unlikely they’ve been much more aggressive, because they haven’t been. That’s not how they won four years ago. And once again, Emi Martinez is about to go back to work.