Although it was not convincing against Mexico, Argentina’s win was still a success.
Just as the match seemed to be drifting towards nowhere, a destination still unknown to the global football game with lobotomized soccer, disjointed players, and an utterly lackluster direction, the diminutive Argentinean, disconnect from the diabolic anti-spectacle surrounding him, did what he does best: mesmerize Gods, find that space and deliver salvation.
In the 64th minute, Lionel Messi had a great finish. Mexico was stunned by a thunderbolt and so were all those who saw him.
Lionel Messi was the first Argentina player to step onto the Lusail Stadium field. It was a cauldron full of sounds, lights, impressions, and impressions. But, in reality, it was an excuse to think deeper and more profoundly because there was only one question: “Is this it?” Is this Lionel Messi’s final match at a World Cup tournament?
Argentina had been there before. They lost their first game against Cameroon at the 1990 World Cup. This was a shocking result and nearly as devastating as the heart-breaking defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia. But they continued on to the final in Italy, which was the goal for the following few weeks.
After the euphoria that accompanied a 36-game unbeaten streak leading to the World Cup, the Argentinians were stunned by the result against Herverenard’s team. There was always a fear in their camp that something would go wrong. They did it in the most shocking way possible. Despite the shock, the players and fans believed that Argentina could win the World Cup. It was just like 1990.
But, despite all the noise and thunder in a boisterous Lusail arena, Argentina immediately demonstrated why they were in such a delicate position. They simply couldn’t control a match. It was not against Saudi Arabia or Mexico. The Mexicans settled down after ten minutes and began to wrestle the initiative from their rivals before the match turned into a highly intense, uncompromising, low-quality, and extremely difficult encounter. At the end of the first period, sixteen fouls were committed. This was four times as many shots.
This match felt like a World Cup match. All was at stake. Some players couldn’t carry the weight of the game. Mexico’s veteran Andreas Guardado was a fixture in every World Cup since 2006. Lionel Messi was almost invisible as he limped off.
He was the star of Argentina and one of the greats of the game. He has been inconsistent in matches and even less in his final years. But he could not handle the physicality of Mexico on Saturday. Maybe he was reflecting on his team. Argentina took 50 minutes to complete a circuit of passing.
It was Argentina’s worst football match in many years. It reminded me of Marcelo Bielsa’s Argentina at the 2002 World Cup, when the South Americans, who were top favorites back then, left the competition in the group stage. They did it in 1962 and 1958, too, but at Lusail, they were not in danger of such a fate because Mexico was on par with Argentina’s abominable standard. Alexis Vega was the one who played Chucky Lozano’s pass when they broke shortly after the break. They didn’t know how to score. This was a clear sign that the two teams had very little to offer and were moving nowhere.
Lionel Messi’s drop was deeper by this point, but he didn’t exert more influence, even though Argentina played with more conviction. The match continued to drift. Finally, Messi’s moment came. This was the moment that split them. Mexico had more balls than Mexico, but that didn’t make them any less toothless. Enrico Fernandez, the Argentine substitute, was not with a stunning curl, he defeated Ochoa leaping to secure a 2-0 win for his team.
It wasn’t convincing or pretty, and the other teams’ Brazil and France will not have been impressed with Argentina. Although it was sometimes desperate, Messi’s World Cup dream is still alive.