Argentines are said to have incredible self-confidence; One realizes this, among other things, in a series of jokes which, though biased on the one hand, have such an essence of truth on the other that they have received the highest grace imaginable. Even Pope Francis, an Argentine, recited one or the other, including this one: “Do you know how an Argentine kills himself?” On the sidelines of a trip to Mexico, the Pope asked, solving the mystery: “His vanity rises and he throws himself down.”
What does that have to do with football? Well, the Argentines are feeling like world champions again after a prestigious win.
The Argentine national team played at London Cathedral called Wembley on Wednesday – and as one of the current winners of the Copa America, it won the Intercontinental Champions Cup with a thrilling 3-0 victory over European champions Italy. A duel like this has happened twice before in history. In 1985, France beat Uruguay 2-0 in Paris. In 1993, Argentina beat Denmark 5-4 on penalties in Mar del Plata. That was the last trophy for Diego Maradona, who died in November 2020, as captain of Argentina, and of course Maradona was present in some way on Wednesday.
Of course, with the Argentines, it is always about Diego Maradona
When the trophy was taken to the pitch before the match, he was also the master of the celebrations with Benjamin Aguero – son of former professional Sergio Aguero and grandson: Maradona. Fan hymns have been updated; Where Maradona was said to have been taller than Pele, it is now said “más grande que Isabel”, meaning Queen Elizabeth. And then, of course, there was a sign mentioning Maradona and pointing to the present: “With God in heaven, with God on earth.”
Lionel Messi, who recently spoke of the near-paranormal circumstances commemorating Maradona’s death, seemed like a god on earth to Argentines for some time. To recall, a few days after Maradona’s death, Messi removed the Newell’s Old Boys shirt under the shirt of his club Barcelona at the time. Messi grew up in Newells, while Maradona joined Rosario FC towards the end of his career. Messi said the shirt just appeared to him. While he was wondering how to honor Maradona, the door to his always-closed home was mysteriously opened. And as he looked through the gap, his eyes fell on Newell’s red and black shirt, which he didn’t even know he had anymore.
His performance at Wembley on Wednesday was another tribute to Maradona: Messi played, yes, like an angel.
The way Lautaro Martinez made it 1-0, slipping around Italy defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo, dribbling towards the baseline and then spotting top player Lautaro Martinez down six yards was amazing in itself. Later, Angel Di Maria (45) and Paulo Dybala (90′ + 4′) completed 3-0. The newspaper commented that “Argentina sent a message to the world.” no nasion in Buenos Aires.
who – which Urbi et orbi The Argentine summed it up to captain Messi: “We can face anyone.” Indeed: under interim coach Lionel Scaloni, 44, who was appointed in 2018, the team has matured so much that it not only won the Copa América 2021 in Brazil (!), but also went 32 matches unbeaten.
Argentina was already a revelation in the qualifying round for the World Cup in Qatar, and the uncertainty resulted only from the fact that Messi and co have not duel with the Europeans for years. The European champions are now off the field – less than a year after Italy won the European Championship final at Wembley against Spain, as well as when old champion Giorgio Chiellini bid farewell. After 117 international matches, he played his last match for his country Squadra Azura. The previous match against the Europeans was Argentina’s 2-2 friendly match against Germany in Dortmund in October 2019.
“We have to keep our heads on the ground now…sorry, with our legs,” Di Maria said, laughing as if he had heard a good Argentine joke. For example, the one that the Pope personally said to Rafael Correa, the former president of Ecuador: “People were surprised that I chose the name Francis. They were expecting a second Jesus.” Either way: If you thought you had angels, gods and a pope in your pocket at the World Cup, you can count on that. Trustworthy.