DOHA ( Associated Press) – South America Vs. Europe? Argentina will probably slip through that crack.
Its largest figure migrated to Spain with just 10 years. Their goalkeeper was a teenager when he went to England to try his luck. The coach was trained at the European Academy. And only one of its 26 players plays in the local league.
Argentina has South American genes, but the final polishing of its machinery bears the European stamp. And it is this twin effect that defines the team that will take on eventual champions France on Sunday for the World Cup title.
Ball handling and dribbling, typical of Argentine paddocks, are a distinctive mark of the albiceleste, as is the direct play and physical rigidity that is prevalent in European competition.
Before the World Cup, Argentine players replied, “We don’t care, we play in the best league every weekend.”
Much has already been written about the story of their captain Messi moving to Barcelona at the age of 13 because no club in Argentina was willing to pay for hormone treatment for his growth problem.
But he was not the only one who left the country at a young age.
Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, crucial with his defending to beat the Netherlands in a penalty shootout for the quarter-finals, left Argentina at the age of 16 when an English Arsenal recruiter warned of his conditions at a youth tournament with the national team. His journey as a footballing nomad has been typical, going out on loan several times with Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Reading, Wolverhampton and Getafe of Spain, until he consolidated himself in the Premier League at his current club Aston Villa.
Most of the most experienced players, such as defender Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica, Portugal), midfielders Rodrigo de Paul (Atlético de Madrid) and Leandro Paredes, and winger Angel Di Maria (Juventus, Italy), have spent more than half their careers in Europe. .
Like Messi and Martinez, “the jewel” Paulo Dybala (Rome, Italy) never played in the highest division of Argentine football. With less than 20 years, he was recruited by Palermo of Italy.
As head of the coaching staff, Lionel Scaloni trained and graduated as a coach at the Royal Spanish Football Federation, a course he followed for a decade in his league with Deportivo La Coruña, Racing de Santander and Mallorca. Were able to access after playing.
Forward Julian Alvarez, a World Cup revelation with four goals at the age of 22, is a true product of the River Plate youth system. But he has been at Manchester City for six months. Similar to Enzo Fernandez, a 21-year-old midfielder who plays for Benfica.
The only third goalkeeper in the squad without European experience is Franco Armani, also from River, and substitute striker Thiago Almada from MLS Atlanta United.
Argentina will look to end 20 years of European domination at the World Cup on Sunday. Maybe I can get it by giving them their own medicine.