without convincing, Lionel Messi’s Argentina remains alive

without convincing, Lionel Messi's Argentina remains alive

Against Mexico, Lionel Messi’s Argentina had no choice. And had to compose, Saturday, November 26, with a fervent Mexican public at the Lusail stadium. But at the end of a choppy meeting, a very pale Albiceleste won (2-0) for its second match in group C. Not enough to convince, a few hours after the great victory of the Blues against Denmark in group D; but enough to stay alive in this 2022 World Cup.

Beaten to everyone’s surprise when they entered the tournament in Qatar against Saudi Arabia (1-2), Messi and his teammates knew they were expected. Those who assumed their dreams of world title had no choice but to respond present. “We have to turn the page and we have already done so”, warned the Argentine coach, Lionel Scaloni the day before. For him, after the accident of the first match, where his troops had dominated before losing to a “alignment of the stars” in favor of their opponent (according to the French coach of the Saudis, Hervé Renard), there is no question of changing everything. “Our style is non-negotiable. We took a hit, but we have to keep our values. » And to announce that the Albiceleste “will play in the usual way. »

Relive the encounter: Argentina-Mexico: Albiceleste win and keep their chances of qualifying

In a Lusail stadium transformed into a cauldron with a sometimes Mexican, sometimes Argentinian accent, the very vertical stands of the enclosure which will host the final of the competition took their part in the spectacle. They took it well in the first period, as the meeting was chopped up. If the Argentinians immediately tried to accelerate, to erase their disappointment on Tuesday, they came up against a compact Tri.

Once again the light comes from Lionel Messi

Intertwining aggressiveness and play, Mexico posed concerns for the partners of Angel Di Maria. In a game where many players found themselves looking at the grass a little too closely, the chances seemed as plentiful as the rainy days in Qatar. With the only shot on target a free kick from Mexican striker Alexis Vega at the end of the first period, the start of the game lacked rhythm, if not intensity.

Punished by Saudi Arabia in the impact for their entry into the running, the Argentinians tried to correct the situation in the second half. More enterprising – less messy too – Lionel Scaloni’s players have raised their voices. If they did not multiply the chances, the compact Argentines put pressure on their opponents, and waited for a flash from their undisputed leader to make the difference.

“Messi is 35 years old, and the matches will follow very quickly, observed Omar Da Fonseca before the World Cup. And Argentina does not bring enough danger apart from him, he will be forced to sublimate himself. » Well muzzled by the Mexican defense, which clung to its tails throughout the meeting, the Paris Saint-Germain player proved right to the former Argentinian player, now a consultant for beIN Sports. As often, it is from him that came the light.

Well served outside the penalty area, the Argentinian captain fired a crushed shot in the middle of a forest of legs, which left the Mexican goalkeeper no chance (1-0, 64e). Filled with many fans wearing his tunic, the Qatari stadium let his joy explode. Under the “Messi, Messi, Messi” triumphant from the 88,966 spectators won over to his cause – the second largest attendance in the history of the World Cup, according to FIFA, after the World Cup final in the United States in 1994 (94,194 spectators) –, the sevenfold Ballon d he gold has shown that, at 35, he does not intend to give up his chances of winning the most prestigious international trophy. The one after which he has been running since the start of his career.

Read also: Qatar 2022: the “unofficial” profile of the Argentinian team

Masters of their destiny

Eliminated in 2006 and 2010 from the World Cup by Messi’s Argentina, the Mexicans played their chances thoroughly. If their coach, Gerardo “Tata” Martino, is from Rosario, like Messi, the players of the Tri would have had nothing against shattering the dreams of the Argentine captain. After their draw against Poland for their debut in the World Cup (0-0), the teammates of a “Memo” Ochoa less imperial than against the Poles did not manage to be dangerous.

At the end of the game, the newcomer Enzo Fernandez came to validate the Argentinian victory. On a corner played in three stages, the midfielder shifted with a stepover, before clearing the small Mexican net (2-0, 87e).

Far from convincing, the Albiceleste provided the essentials against a tough opponent. To secure a place in the round of 16 – where they could cross paths with the Blues, as in 2018 – the Argentinians will have to win against Poland on Wednesday evening. Once again masters of their destiny, Lionel Messi’s teammates have avoided the worst. It is now up to them to write the rest of their story.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers World Cup 2022: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the last chance for two legends

Our selection of articles on the 2022 World Cup

Find all our content on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, from November 20 to December 18.

  • Know everything : The calendar, the results, the rankings, the “unofficial” guide to the 2022 World Cup
  • Investigations: France-Qatar, a friendship full of resources; Award of the World Cup to Qatar: Sarkozy, Platini and the takeover of PSG at the heart of the French justice investigation; For the environment, an event at the critical stage
  • Report : To the Mbappé-Giroud duo, France very grateful against Poland
  • Editorials: The World Cup of excesses; FIFA at the stage of blindness
  • Decryptions: The delicate speech of footballers on human rights; The reasons for the discomfort; A very political “World Cup”
  • Reports: In the “engine room” of Qatar, where live the immigrant workers whom Doha does not want to see; In Qatar, a pan-Arab festival atmosphere; At the University of Dakar, “when Senegal plays, we forget all our problems”
  • Grandstand (Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International) : “By calling to ‘focus on football’, Gianni Infantino is trying to exonerate FIFA from any responsibility”
  • Portraits: Walid Regragui, the new signature of the Atlas Lions; Harry Maguire, a certain idea of ​​English football
  • Chronicle: “Changing the method of calculating additional time in a match is to take the risk of breaking the game”; “With video refereeing, the goals are conditional, the emotions too”
  • Podcast : Ecology, human rights, corruption: why the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a problem
  • Video : A “carbon neutral” World Cup? What lies behind Qatar’s untenable promises; For the first time, a match will be refereed by women