Thursday, February 2, 2023

Messi lifts weights against Australia like Maradona 30 years ago

DOHA ( Associated Press) — In 1993, Diego Maradona led Argentina to victory against Australia in the most important game the two teams have ever played in their history. After 29 years, fate wanted Lionel Messi to take charge of the World Cup.

Argentina, two-time world champions, and much-less-scroll Australia will clash in Doha’s Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium on Saturday in the Round of 16, in a table that theoretically appears favorable enough for the Albiceleste to reach December’s final . 18.

In a short history of seven doubles, the most important was done at the end of 1993 in the playoff for the 1994 World Cup. Argentina did not pass the South American qualifying round after Colombia handed them an embarrassing 5–0 defeat. Maradona, who had left the team after his first doping test, decided to help the team on their trip to Oceania.

With the star’s momentum, Argentina won the first leg and tied the rematch in Buenos Aires, keeping a World Cup ticket.

Nearly three decades later and in an even more impressive scenario, captain Messi will seek to become the talisman of a team that began the competition with an unexpected shock win against Saudi Arabia, but has rebounded after victories over Mexico and Poland. Emerged and came to the fore. a candidate.

“I remember clearly that we didn’t expect to play Argentina in qualifying. They lost to Colombia… Maradona had retired, he had put on weight. The fans wanted him to come back, he made six appearances. Lost a lot of weight in the week and it came back”, recalled Australian coach Graham Arnold, who played that game, during a press conference before the round of 16.

“He didn’t seem that impressed, but it was impossible to get close to him. We tried to kick him and he ran away. It’s one of my best memories of playing against Maradona.”

In Qatar, the “Soccers” managed to win the same tournament twice for the first time in history, and Germany repeated the 2006 feat when they finished in the top 16.

“The past is over, but tomorrow (on Saturday) it will be a different match, a knockout. “We have a lot of respect for Argentina, (but) we will be eleven versus eleven,” Arnold said. “It’s going to be a battle and we’re going to do our best to win.”

Argentina will try not to stumble over the same stone again. Just as victory against the Saudis was taken for granted, it now has more obligations than its next opponent.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni analyzed, “The opponent is inferior, you have to look at it, it’s a good team.” “You have to put aside ideological partisanship and go play a football game.”

“Here you can’t underestimate, you have to play football as much as you can,” he insisted.

The coach called for discretion after Argentina’s best ever game at the World Cup, with a Messi who knew how to recover from missed penalties and flanked by youngsters Alexis McAllister and Enzo Fernandez in midfield and Julian Alvarez up front. Brought freshness.

Messi will try to score his first goal in the knockout stages of the World Cup. His total is eight in the first round of five World Cups.

For his part, midfielder Rodrigo de Paul declared that Argentina knew how to cash in on a loss in the first match.

“We found ourselves in a situation we weren’t used to, we hadn’t lost in a long time. There you can see the character, the kind of group we are… like we started and finished first, And seeing the reaction of the group, seeing it today I think it was positive”, said the Atlético de Madrid player.

Regarding Australia, de Paul analyzed that “they are a very quick team, they have tall centre-backs who we don’t have to leave near the field. With extremely quick wingers, this is the card they are coming out against”. We have to be very careful in that part of the field not to get into the wrong position.”

Scaloni did not repeat the team in the tournament and it is unclear whether he can do so due to the muscular overload suffered by winger Ángel Di María. There is no player with similar characteristics in the team, so if he does not play, the plan can be changed. The coach did not confirm the squad and said he would test the Juventus player in the last formal practice on Thursday.

An alternative would be the return to the team of striker Lautaro Martínez, who was a substitute against Poland, and Álvarez taking over Di Maria’s position.

In Australia, they do not think it is impossible to beat Messi’s Argentina to reach an unprecedented quarter-final.

Arnold commented, “We’ve always been told we’re Cinderellas, but everyone is until you win … We like that they saw us as Cinderellas, nobody Thought we were about to get here.”

Forward Matthew Leckie said, “There’s no pressure for us.” “We just need to enjoy the moment, enjoy this opportunity. And like I said, nobody expected us to win. So let’s surprise the world.”

The survivor of this key would face the winner of the Netherlands-United States match.

Nation World News Desk
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