At the World Cup press conferences, Lionel Scaloni has so far dominated all his counterparts, often masters in the art of jargon. On the eve of the start of Argentina, the youngest coach of this World Cup (44 years old) had become accustomed to the host country by also connecting the air conditioning, just to calm the ardor of a people quick to ignite for his selection. “We are in no way obliged to win the World Cup. If you think that, you are completely wrong.” he launched to the journalists, adding that it was not a question “just a game”. “Then real life goes on”he continued.
A few days later, after a victory synonymous with survival in the competition against Mexico (2-0), the man nicknamed the “Gringo” did it again, while his deputy, Pablo Aimar, burst into tears after the opening of the score by Lionel Messi. “We should have a little more common sense and think that this is just a football match. I received a message from my brother, in tears, who had gone to the countryside not to watch the match. It is not possible to come to this. (…) It’s hard to make people understand that tomorrow the sun will rise, whether we win or lose. »
In a country regularly overwhelmed by passion, especially when it comes to football, the speeches of the coach jostle. This was still the case before the decisive duel against Poland, the moment chosen by Scaloni to express his admiration and his support for Brazil, while, every four years, the horde of Argentine supporters arrive in globalist lands with his playlist of chants to poke fun at the historic rival – and his incarnation, Pelé.
To reinvigorate national football that had long been stuck in the golden age of Diego Maradona, the new Albiceleste guide has therefore chosen to pull another string than the – traditional – one of emotion, which carried the “generation Messi” to three consecutive finals (World 2014, Copa America 2015 and 2016), all lost on the wire. “A World Cup is always complicated. When you’re indoors, you can’t get carried away by the euphoria. Scaloni has always been very intelligent, he takes the matches one after the other, without going crazy.observes Bernardo Romeo, U20 world champion (under 20) with Scaloni in 1997 and current coordinator of youth selections.
“The closest to the players”
Argentina took time to adopt their coach. When his appointment was announced in 2018, part of the country did not know him, the other fell on him. As adept with metaphor as he was with the ball, national idol Diego Maradona, then coach of the Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico’s second division, judged “not even able to direct traffic”. The Albiceleste comes out of a tiring and failed Russian World Cup – elimination in the round of 16 against France – the atmosphere is gloomy and no one is in a hurry to send their CV to the Argentine federation, which is therefore betting on a staff member of Jorge Sampaoli, asked him to look elsewhere, to rebuild everything.
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Source: Le Monde